Five Essential Tracks On MacKenzie Porter's New Album 'Nobody's Born With A Broken Heart'

May 7, 2024 - News

MacKenzie Porter’s second album, Nobody’s Born With A Broken Heart, has been a long time coming. The Canadian country-pop stalwart dropped her self-titled debut in July of 2014, earning solid buzz with earworms like Never Gonna Let You, If You Ask Me To and I Wish I’d Known. But instead of chasing the hype and rushing out a follow-up, Porter played the long game with LP2, working hard to ensure every heartfelt lyric, soaring strum and shimmering synth gelled in perfect harmony.

READ MORE: Canadian Actor & Muso MacKenzie Porter On Defying Labels, ‘Gross’ Shoeys & More

The end result is an absolute trip of an album. Right off the bat, Nobody’s Born With A Broken Heart is a weighty listen, spanning 19 songs across an hour and riding tonal peaks and valleys between simmering folk balladry and raucous barnyard pop. Just as broad as its musical palette, too, is the emotional breadth that Porter captures on the album, laying her soul bare as she reflects on the brightest of loves and most crushing of heartbreaks. It’s a tender epitome of her real life experiences, with will certainly resonate with her audience.

Upon announcing the album back in January, Porter said of the journey she wanted to immortalise on it: “Nobody’s born with a broken heart. We all start with the naivety and innocence of youth, but then life happens. There are so many circumstances and events in a lifetime that can slowly chip away at your heart, and in the end, you’re this beautiful, imperfect, cracked mess. But isn’t that what living really is? If you didn’t have the grit, would you really know the grace? That is what this record is about. These songs are those moments in my life. I hope they maybe heal a couple of those moments in yours.”

All things considered, Porter spent six years bringing Nobody’s Born With A Broken Heart to life. Having lived through so many formative moments in that time – like, for example, the birth of her first daughter – it’s no surprise she had a lot of stories to tell (and we’re sure there’s even more that wound up on the cutting room floor. Every song on the record is special in its own way, and they all come together to tell a rich and engaging story that deserves to be experienced in its entirety…

…That being said, we here at Countrytown certainly have our favourites. There’s a handful of songs on Nobody’s Born With A Broken Heart that truly floored us when we first heard them, and have since become bonafide staples in our daily playlists. So to celebrate the album’s release, we’re taking a deeper look at our five biggest standouts – the most essential moments of an album that will surely go down as a modern country-pop classic.

Have a listen to the full album below, then read on for our top picks (in order of where they appear on the tracklist).

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Young At Heart

As the second track on the album, Young At Heart works in tandem with its predecessor (Easy To Miss) to set the overall tone for Nobody’s Born With A Broken Heart. Easy To Miss starts the record with a mid-tempo pop groove and lyrics that place us in the midst of Porter’s heartbreak. Young At Heart builds on the foundations laid with more impactful musicality and a deeper view into the singer’s own mindset – she explains exactly why heartbreak is such a heavy-hitting theme for her, candidly conceding that her mindset could be seen as “immature”.

Porter admits her emotional instincts border on toxic, quipping in the chorus of Young At Heart that she’s “not above burning pictures, burning bridges, threatening to burn his house / [the] kind of thing you do in high school then grow up and laugh about”. But she doesn’t seem entirely unashamed of her baseline mindset – she points out she was “sure it would fade with age”, but she’s simply hardwired to be “young at heartbreak”. Nevertheless, she’s learned to embrace her emotional intensity, ultimately settling with herself in the song’s bridge: “It sure hurts but I wouldn’t trade it / ‘cause grown-ups are way too jaded.”

In the span of three minutes, Porter rawly bares her heart – not only displaying her vulnerability but owning it – and reckons with a part of herself she’d certainly struggled with in her past. Young At Heart is instrumental to the narrative Porter unfurls across the album, and musically it stands out as one of the most gripping cuts on there.

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Rough Ride For A Cowboy

A little later down the line, Porter makes it crystal clear what she meant when she said she’s not above starting fires: Rough Ride For A Cowboy tells the scorching story of an ex-beau that did the singer dirty, but sure as hell won’t get away with it.

Right off the bat, we’re met with a smoky suite of reverberant electric guitars and deceptively sweet acoustic strumming. Porter paints the picture of a right ol’ dickhead: “He’s a Lone Star casanova, puts the South in South Dakota, he ain’t ever met a mustang he ain’t broke / put a 90 on a Bucker, he’s a one-night one-and-done’r, he’s a runner but he’s running out of road.” He’s callous, unrepentant, and thrives on the weight of his ego – but hell hath no fury like Porter’s hunger for revenge.

She unravels her plan as the song progresses, the music brooding as she is: “In the morning when hе wakes up, yeah, he’ll finally get a taste of his own medicine, a spoon full of bitter / Hell, isn’t it ironic? / it’s freedom that he wanted / he got it, but don’t like how it got delivered.”

Rough Ride For A Cowboy is the only song of its ilk on Nobody’s Born With A Broken Heart, which at face value feels like a miss: it’s defiantly angsty and energised, with a fierce and rollicking instrumental that sticks like molasses. The track proves Porter’s versatility as a songwriter, showing a darker side to her character by way of bolder and more jagged metaphor (case in point, the bridge: “It’s his gravel meeting the treads on my tires / the tables are turning tonight”) and it’s hard not to wish we saw more of it on the record.

In saying that, the lack of a similar track makes Rough Ride For A Cowboy feel completely singular – it’s very much a “less it more” kind of situation.

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Coming Home To You

Juxtaposing the fiery grit of Rough Ride For A Cowboy is the stirring balladry of Coming Home To You, which builds into a bright and beautiful anthem about making the most of what you’ve got. If the prior track showed that Porter has a spicy side, this one shows that she’s a lover at her core, with a big heart and a radiant soul and an indomitable eagerness to look on the positive side of life.

She sings sweetly in the song’s instantly infectious chorus: “Most people would kill for a higher up hill, looking down on a better view / but I don’t want no bigger house if I ain’t coming home to you.”

Often on albums about heartbreak, it’s the earnest love songs that stand out the most – if only because they ground and contextualise more somber cuts. But that doesn’t track with Coming Home To You, which shines more for its authenticity as a view into Porter’s present: a heartfelt love letter to her husband of ten years, fellow polymath Jake Etheridge.

The couple have built an admirable, even enviable life together, both finding success and acclaim as actors and singers – but on Coming Home To You, Porter stresses she’d feel the exact same love she does for her beau if neither of them were as lucky as they have been. Overlaid with soaring strings, colourful percussion and Porter’s own bewitching vocal delivery, it’s one of the most poignant and memorable songs on Nobody’s Born With A Broken Heart, and works to drive home the power of the album’s title and ethos.

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Have Your Beer

Another track that spotlights Porter’s ironclad assertiveness, Have Your Beer offers an ex of hers a simple, yet effective message: once you’ve broken her heart, there’s no winning it back. It’s steeped in clever metaphor and sticky quips, as Porter emphatically explains how you “can’t take the tires off a truck, then take it out for a spin”, nor can you “blow your speakers out, then turn ’em up to ten” or “walk back over a bridge after you burned it down”.

Really, though, Have You Beer makes the cut for our Top Five songs on Nobody’s Born With A Broken Heart for how immediately catchy it is, reminding us of the belting hook on Fergie’s 2006 hit Big Girls Don’t Cry (which similarly dealt in themes of self-empowerment and the importance of writing one’s own narrative). It’s not an obvious pop radio hit, but it is the kind of song that sticks around in your mind long after it’s finished, and one of the first songs we revisited after our first cover-to-cover spin of the album.

We can easily see Have Your Beer being a staple in the setlist for Porter’s new live show, with that chorus basically demanding you sing along: “You said you don’t, now you do / but it’s too late, baby, you can’t have your beer and drink it too!”

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Pensive and downbeat but still lively and enticing with a cruisy flow and hooky rhythm, Foreclosure is a definitive country-pop breakup song. It’s not necessarily a song about heartbreak, but its hard to think either party in the couple Porter sings about feel good about the situation they’re in: their relationship has fizzled out and neither of them care enough to try rekindling their spark – so they simply decide to part ways.

The (all-too-common) narrative itself mightn’t seem poised to make for great songwriting, but Porter really makes a diamond out of dust here: her feelings of exhaustion and mourning are palpable in her vocal delivery, and the way it’s twined together with the instrumental – layers of reverberant guitars howling in harmony over tight, dialled-in percussion and wispy atmospherics – is nothing short of bewitching.

To that end, this simple premise really allows Porter to let the beauty in her songwriting flourish. The pre-chorus shines especially bright here: “Buy low, sell high / thought all it would take was time / fresh paint, new floors / now there’s a pink slip on the door.” It’s a testament to the artist’s aim to explore heartbreak from every angle – because sometimes it’s not a soul-tearing breakup or animosity that leads to a broken heart, sometimes life just gets in the way and the pain only swells up after all the ties are cut. Sometimes neither party is at fault for the broken heart.

As part of its broader narrative, Foreclosure is one of the truly essential tracks on Nobody’s Born With A Broken Heart – and despite having one of the most simple concepts, it stands out as one of the album’s most memorable tracks. This is the first song we’d point to in flexing Porter’s songwriting chops.

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