Kelsea Ballerini is unpacking the events and the aftermath of her split from her ex, Morgan Evans. On Tuesday, the 29-year-old GRAMMY-nominee released her six track EP, Rolling Up the Welcome Mat, along with an accompanying short film.
“Here’s my healing journey. here’s my heart. here’s my truth,” Ballerini wrote on Instagram of the project. “I’ve never been this open, I’ve never been this bold, and I’ve never been this proud of my art. so with love and respect, I’m rolling up the welcome mat. six song story and short film out now. happy valentine’s day.”
The new music and film comes after the songstress announced that she and Evans were ending their marriage in August. Their divorce was finalized in October.
Rolling Up the Welcome Mat begins with the track, “Mountain with a View,” and sets the stage for the entire short film, which is set in a big house surrounded by windows, with a brown welcome mat at the front of the residence.
“Mountain With a View” seems to be a direct callback to her ex’s song, “Over For You,” where Evans asks when she knew the relationship was over.
Ballerini sits at an empty table, following a phone call which reveals she’ll be at home alone while he’s on the road performing a show, as she begins to realize this is the end.
“I’m wearing the ring still. …I think I’m lying. Sometimes you forget yours. I think we’re not trying. I realized you loved me way more at 23. I think that this is when it’s over for me,” she sings.
Ballerini continues on about how at 29, just six years after she got married, she’s no longer on the same page she was when she was younger.
Her song, “Just Married,” sees her love returning home and planting kisses on her. However, he doesn’t spend time with her. Ballerini sings about just going through the motions of a marriage after their wedding date: “December two.”
“My heart wasn’t made for fixing a plate, or keeping our problems buried. Their was love and then it was just … married,” she sings.
In “Penthouse,” Ballerini seems to make references to her and Evans’ downtown penthouse in Nashville, Tennessee, and enjoying the fun they had before things went sour when she eventually wanted a home.
In the video, the couple share sweet moments as they play games and slow dance. Ballerini sings about wanting a house with kids and a backyard for their dog, “Dibs.” However, when the time came to get those things…everything changed, leading him to get half and her to “roll up the welcome mat.”
“We were playing home in a penthouse baby,” she croons.
In “Interlude,” Ballerni sings about fans catching wind of her breakup and commenting on her appearance. She also seems to recall a conversation with her mother, Carla, about her split, and all of the rumors surrounding her and Evans’ relationship.
“I wanna set it straight but my lawyers say I shouldn’t,” she sings. The most jarring line comes when Ballerini croons, “Good thing I’m good alone, cause that’s how I signed the papers.”
“Blindsided” is the second to last track, which is a little more up-tempo. Ballerini sings, “Were you blindsided, or were you just blind?”
As the couple lie next to each other — with no connection — in the bed, Ballerini sings about sharing her feelings with her love, which went ignored. In the track, the songstress references a fight they had before a big show (seemingly the 2019 CMT Awards), where she had to wipe her tears and get on stage and perform.
“Like that time in 2019 before that big show, we had a big fight, I slept on the couch. And then the next night you put on your suit, I put on a smile and sang about how it’s OK to cry …dying inside.”
Ballerini also sings about her ex not wanting a family.
For the final song, “Leave Me Again,” Ballerini sits in an empty closest playing just her guitar. Over the course of the acoustic track, she shares how she hopes he is doing all of the things that he loves, including spending more time with his family and hiking his favorite trail.
However, the song isn’t just about her ended love. The songstress also sings about her hope for herself following all the things she has been through. “I hope I never leave me again,” she croons.
The video ends with Ballerini singing that final line, packing up her guitar and moving out of the frame — and on with her life.
Following her split, Ballerini has been recently linked to Outer Banks star, Chase Stokes. The actor celebrated the release of Rolling Up the Welcome Mat, on his Instagram.
“So proud of you, your heart & your beautiful soul,” he wrote next to a picture of him and Ballerini getting close. “Congrats Kels.”