Longtime hitmaker Jessi Alexander made her new album, Decatur County Red, more or less by accident.

"Basically ... I was like, 'I'm just gonna go cut some songs,'" she, with a laugh, told a small, enthusiastic Nashville crowd at a listening party in early 2020. "I'm just gonna go track -- at the best place in the world, Southern Ground! With the best musicians! -- but I still didn't know I was making a record."

Alexander has always been a prolific songwriter, but she says she never could have created this specific album without help from a house she inherited in West Tennessee. It's her grandmother's house, and the house she grew up in, but Alexander had no idea that her grandmother had left it to her until she got a phone call saying it was about to be auctioned off since she hadn't paid the back taxes.

The singer immediately went to claim the cabin, and when she arrived, she found a house badly in need of repair -- but full of memories. Throughout a series of trips to West Tennessee with her family (including her husband, fellow songwriter Jon Randall), Alexander began rebuilding the house. At the same time, she was also rebuilding her relationship with her past and, ultimately, forging the themes of Decatur County Red.

"It's every stitch of the fabric," she insists, speaking of the house's relationship to her new album. "I thought I was just getting this pain in the ass -- like, 'How many thousands of dollars am I going to have to spend remodeling this place?!' But when I first starting going back there, I just rediscovered my roots.

"I reconnected with my childhood memories. My musical influences. My pride about where I come from. The people that I was raised around," she continues. "That's why I'm so proud that the album's called Decatur County Red, because that is ground zero of me and who I am."

Below, Alexander walks through Decatur County Red, track by track, and explains how each song came to be on the album. Read on to learn the stories behind the singer's deeply personal project.

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