In choosing a debut single, especially as a woman in country music, one has to proceed with caution. In the past, more uptempo pop-country songs have worked well for up and coming women, particularly “Love Me Like You Mean It” by Kelsea Ballerini and “My Church” by Maren Morris. But “Every Little Thing” was a smash for Carly Pearce, and that’s far from uptempo. Even sol, Johnston said that when she suggested that “Good Guy” be her debut single, her team was skeptical.
The song itself is a mid-tempo ballad, filled with intensely personal lyrics about an ex-boyfriend of Johnston’s. “Basically everything in the song is a true story,” Johnston said.
Intimate lyrics about him missing every show she played, and her never missing one of his hockey games craft a tale of a relationship where expectations are not being met, but love blinds reason. “That write was like a therapy session for me,” Johnston said. “Now that I’ve released the song, I think it’s kind of like a constant reminder to not go back to that person. It kind of holds me accountable. It’s a constant reminder that I deserve better than to just be making excuses for a person who’s not there for me,” Johnston said.
In contrast to some of her more uptempo songs, Johnston said that playing this song out is more of an emotional experience. “Every time I play this song I just go to a place where I try to feel it because it’s not a jam,” Johnston said. “You have to feel it and I try to remember all those feelings when I sing it.”
The song grabs people’s attention, Johnston noted. “The other songs I play, I think people like them, but this song has longevity on people."
“Good Guy” is just Johnston’s first release, but she plans to follow the song up with another single and eventually an EP, after the song has lived its life for a little while. “I have an EP, we’re not sure exactly when it’s going to be released,” Johnston said. “It is finished, but because “Good Guy” is doing pretty well for itself right now I don’t want to disrupt the flow.”
Songs on the EP vary in style and tempo. Johnston described one other song in the similar vein to “Good Guy” — more emotional and more of a ballad. But she said that two other songs on the EP are more uptempo, fun and flirty. She also mentioned a “black sheep” on the EP, something that stands out from all the other songs. “I’m going for diversity here and seeing what people like from me, and just being creative with it,” Johnston said.
The release date of the EP remains tentative. “The plan is for it to be out by the end of the year,” Johnston said. “[But] if the songs are just doing really good, then I might wait until the beginning of 2019.”
Listen to “Good Guy” below.