Katie Pruitt’s “Look The Other Way” Confronts Complaceny

September 28, 2020

Katie Pruitt confronts society’s complacency — her own included — in her new song “Look the Other Way.” The singer-songwriter dropped the timely new tune on Wednesday (Sept. 23).

“Look the Other Way” tackles gentrification, crooked politicians and police violence in each of its three verses. “Are we heartless or are we numb?” Pruitt asks.

“And I get pissed / When people tell me, ‘That’s the way it is’ / As if that’s all that they know how to say,” she sings in the chorus. “When you walk past / Do you even stop and ask? / Or have you learned to look the other way?”

“”Look the Other Way” deals with the ongoing issue of complacency and how we all play a role in it. I wanted to confront that complacency head on, both culturally and within myself,” Pruitt explains. “We have two choices when we witness evil being done: We can look the other way, or we can ask ourselves what we can do to stop it.”

“Look the Other Way” is Pruitt’s first new music since Expectations, her debut album, released in February via Rounder Records. The album takes listeners through her coming-of-age story and changing perspective on love; she spent four years on the project, which each song representing a pivotal moment in her personal history.

Pruitt is nominated for Emerging Artist of the Year at the 2020 Americana Honors & Awards. The awards show was recently postponed from Sept. 16 to a to-be-determined date.


Who Is Katie Pruitt? 5 Things You Need to Know

She Usually Writes Her Songs Alone

All 10 of the tracks on Expectations were solo writes for Pruitt — and that’s something of an anomaly for an album made in Music City, with its robust songwriter industry. But Pruitt says that writing alone isn’t just her comfort zone: It’s always what made the most sense for this particular set of songs, which are extremely specific to her experience and tell her coming-of-age story over the course of several years.

“These songs are probably the 10 songs out of the past four years that have all sort of felt like personal revelations in my life,” the singer explains. “And songs that came to me in a crucial time, when I needed them and was going through something and needed to talk about it.”

Sometimes, She Takes Different Performing Tactics Live Than She Does in the Studio

One song on Pruitt’s new album, “Loving Her” sounds pretty different on the album than it does when she performs it live: “When I’m singing “Loving Her” live … I’m kind of screaming the whole time,” Pruitt says with a laugh. “Well, not screaming. But it’s a different delivery live than it is on the record.”

That makes sense for the song’s subject matter, which is an open declaration of love for her girlfriend — and a kiss-off to anyone who’d rather she not sing about gay relationships. For all its cathartic power, though, Pruitt says she wanted the song to have a more conversational feel in its recorded version. “Because also, it’d be nice for it to reach and get across to people who don’t agree with me,” she points out. “I felt like delivering that song in a more reined-in kind of way might even reach people who would disagree with me.”

She Grew Up Often Feeling Out of Place …

Over the course of Pruitt’s childhood and early adulthood, she often found herself in scenarios that felt unnatural to her. She didn’t fit in at her Catholic school in her hometown of Athens, Ga., but the hookup and partying culture of her college experience didn’t feel quite right, either. She reflects on “normalcy” — and how it changes based on your surroundings, in her song “Normal.”

“I’m sort of visualizing certain scenes in my life and trying to put people there, saying, like, ‘This was normal when I was at Catholic school. You kneel, you pray, you do the sign of the cross,'” she says of that song. “And then, in college … there’s fraternities, sororities, everyone’s going out at night and the hookup culture … that was normal. And in both instances, I felt very out of place.”

Another big instance of feeling out of place, of course, came from being a gay woman growing up in the South with a family that had a hard time coming to terms with Pruitt’s sexuality.

… And That’s Why She Makes a Point of Being Specific in Her Songs

Pruitt didn’t always feel as though she heard stories like her own in the music she listened to back then — and that’s why she felt it was so important to be specific and honest about the things she was singing about. “I think it’s important to represent and be really transparent about those issues, especially in the South. Because, I mean, growing up, I didn’t really feel like I had that artist or that record. Or, like, when I really needed it, I didn’t feel like I had it,” she explains. “I had amazing songs, but I didn’t have that one thing that was like, ‘God, this is something very specific about my life, and someone’s talking about it.'”

She’s a Big Fan of Listening to Albums From Front to Back

These days, a lot of country listeners stream songs one at a time or skip around in an album’s track list to find the songs they like. Pruitt says she understands the appeal, but she hopes some listeners will still listen to her album in the order of the track list.

“I know some people don’t sit down and listen from Track 1 to Track 10, but I do,” she muses. “So order is important to me, and making sure that it’s cohesive, sonically.”


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