'Songland' Winner Griffen Palmer Details Debut Album 'Unlearn' (Exclusive)

Songland winner Griffen Palmer has released his debut album, Unlearn, a collection of pop-infused country tunes filled with heart and reflection. Over the past few months, Palmer has put out a handful of singles, which tease a little of what listeners are in store for, but don't give away just how much of a treasure trove Unlearn really is. Recently, PopCulture.com had a chance to speak with Palmer about the album and he provided some insight into a few of the songs, as well as dished on what fans can expect from him over the next year.

PopCulture.com: I wanted to ask you about the title song, "Unlearn," specifically, because I know that that was your most recent single. Can you share a little about the origins of that track and how it evolved into what it is now?

Griffen Palmer: I wrote that song maybe about two years ago with Jeff Warburton and it was really just a personal song about my experiences growing up and my family. My parents separated when I was pretty young. It really has a big effect on your outlook on things when you're trying to just learn who you are as a person, and what relationships look like and what love's like. Once you get old enough to decide what that should look like for yourself, it's a pretty interesting thing to go through. I just wanted to write that song as a song that I would've wanted to hear 15 years ago.

When I was really going through it, especially now being on the other side of things where my family's better than it's ever been and everyone's super happy. Anyway, so it's the most personal song on the record and that's kind of why I wanted to make it the title track, because I feel like if there's any song to get to know me by on this record, it's probably this one.

PC: Was there any kind of hesitation on your part to be this vulnerable?

Griffen Palmer: Yeah, definitely at first it was a bit overwhelming. When I first started sharing this song with my team, everyone was like, "This is incredible. This is going to help so many people." I was like, "I feel super naked." But the more we talked about it, the more I thought it was super important to include it. Yeah, I'm really glad I did in the end.

PC: How did your family respond to that? Yeah, like you said, it's so vulnerable, it's so personal. How did they feel about that song?

Griffen Palmer: Yeah, when I first played it for my sisters and stuff like that, who were right in the thick of things with me back in the day, they all got super emotional with it. I think it was reactions like that really showed me the power in the song and the importance in sharing that kind of story.

PC: I also really love "25 to Life." Great single, just a beautiful song. What was the story behind that tune?

Griffen Palmer: Again, I wrote that with Jeff Warburton. We were in the middle of the pandemic. It was right during kind of house arrest. We decided to try to stay productive. We were just going to live together during that time. I moved in with him and his fiance, God bless her, to just let two adults have a sleepover for a month.

I just had this idea called "25 to Life," and I just really wanted to touch on the juxtaposition between a sentence, like a prison sentence, the worst kind of sentence, and the idea of spending a really, really long time with the person you love, with kind of the idea that that would be the best type of sentence you could possibly have. It was a bit of a puzzle to put that one together, to try to fit in the kind of prison lingo mixed with the sentiment of a love song. But I'm pretty proud of how it turned out. I think we did a really good job.

PC: I know you've been touring, and have a lot more shows lined up. Do you have any parts of North America that you enjoy playing or that you discovered you enjoy as you began to tour?

Griffen Palmer: Obviously anytime I can play in Ohio is really fun just because a lot of my favorite people are all from Ohio. It's always fun to see them. [Palmer is originally from Ontario, Canada, but went to college in Ohio.]

On this tour I've got to see so many different parts of the country and I've really liked places like Philadelphia, and Boston, and those bigger cities, but also playing some spots in Georgia and Texas this weekend has been pretty incredible. It's been my first time in Texas. Just seeing all these new places is really fun.

PC: Would you say that your life after Songland was a pretty big change for you? Or, did the bigger changes came a little later with the touring, and working on the album, and all that kind of stuff?

Griffen Palmer: I think it changed in some ways just based on, it gave all the people in my life context for what I'm actually doing. Because when they know I'm just a songwriter and writing songs for people, it's hard for people to wrap their head around what that really is. Songland is really cool in that sense because it showed people what I'm doing and what the process is like, and what it really is like to have the life of a songwriter. It changed in that sense for me, but it didn't really explode my life into something super crazy. Maybe that's to come, but right now everything still seems pretty normal.

PC: What's on the horizon for you for the next foreseeable future?

Griffen Palmer: Right now, we're just really looking forward to getting this music out. Then we just got festival shows in the summer that should be getting announced pretty soon. Hopefully getting up another tour in the fall and just playing this music for anyone who wants to listen to it.

Palmer's new album, Unlearn, is now available on most streaming services. Click here to listen, and click here to find his upcoming concerts. Keep it locked to Pop Culture.com for more great country music interviews, news, and exclusives! 

Editor's note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.