There may be no label that’s leading modern country music more than the independent and multi-faceted Big Loud. Of course, they have the heavy hitters of Morgan Wallen and HARDY, but their work with developing and pushing out artists is one that is unrivaled in the modern scope of where country music is — and where it’s going.

One of their more impressive clients set for a breakout in 2024 is the wonderful MacKenzie Porter, who will be releasing her long-awaited label debut album, Nobody’s Born With a Broken Heart, on April 26th via the label. For Porter, it comes nearly 10 years after her debut, self-titled album came out and 6 years after her initial signing to Big Loud. Reflecting back on her initial signing, Porter recalls her excitement to have her first record deal in Nashville, as well as her admiration for Joey Moi.  “He is, to me, a beast of a producer. He is so good,she tells me earlier this month when we chat via Zoom.And he can just take a song and elevate it to that next level, and make it something really special. So I knew I wanted to work with him, and he’s one of the owners of the label so it was a perfect fit.”

The more she got to know the team at Big Loud, the more she felt comfortable that they were the right label for her. “When I met Seth England — he’s another owner and kind of like the CEO — he is a super smart marketing genius and also a great A&R ear. I just felt like they were a great team, and it was a small enough label and team that I didn’t feel like I was going to get lost in this huge roster of artists,” she says.

It wasn’t without its risk necessarily, as in addition to music, Porter had built up a successful career as an actor and had just wrapped up her work on Netflix’s acclaimed show Travelers. While she tells me she is going got mix in some more acting parts, it was a concerted effort to turn her attention towards music. To say this has paid off would be an underestimate and disservice of sorts to the success Porter has achieved in the last few years. To date, she has achieved 6 number 1 singles in Canada, and impressively tied Shania Twain as the only other Canadian woman to have back-to-back-to-back number 1 singles on Country radio in Canada.

“It’s a hard industry so to be able to have any number ones is difficult. To have a couple back to back is really cool,” she tells me. “I think that I’m just excited to change the narrative of females in country and Canadian country and just be a little part of that.”

Her success has lead to opportunities to collaborate with artists like Dustin Lynch on his smash hit “Thinking ‘Bout You” and Default’s Dallas Smith on songs “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drink Alone” and one of my favorite songs from 2022, “One Too.” She describes Smith as a friend of hers, as well as labelmates, so their collaboration came naturally; whereas Lynch was a little different. “[That] one was kind of more like a blind audition. He was looking for somebody to be on the song with him, so a bunch of girls recorded their parts and he picked who he thought was best,” she tells me.

“Mostly it’s like, ‘Do I love the song? Do I love the artist? Do they like me?’ If all of those align, it’s a pretty fun process to put out a collaboration,” she further explains. Part of the fun for Porter is sharing the success of a song with another artist, whether it be Smith, Lynch, or whoever else. The other part is being able to share fanbases and collectively grow those, and it doesn’t hurt to showcase her talent to as many eyes as possible.

With Nobody’s Born With a Broken Heart a little under two months away from its release, we reflected on the journey here and what its like at long-last to have her Big Loud debut on the horizon. “It’s such a relief,” she begins to say, “I feel like I was working towards it so long. The 10 years feels very long for me too and I’ve had a bunch of stuff in between but I’m so ready for this. Some if it was timing that I couldn’t control, and some of it was.”

It’s a record that she’s incredibly proud of — all 19 tracks — and has hope that people will like it (you will). But now that the record is fully done and almost here, she’s sort of in limbo as she waits for the day to come. With a record coming that she has put years and tons of time into, what’s left to feel now is, well, anxiety. “So much and so much expectation, and pressure really. But at the end of the day, I can go to bed at night like ‘I love this record’ and that is what I can hang my hat on,” she explains.

Nobody’s Born With a Broken Heart lifts its title from the album closer and title-track, which is perhaps one of the more autobiographical songs on the record. Porter felt like the title sets the tone and overall embodies the message she wants to tell: the idea that none of us are born with scars, a broken heart, and that they come through hard and painful situations. For better or worse. “We all experience them in life, whether it’s heartbreak, family, illness, or whatever. You grow from that, you get stronger because of that, and you show that you’ve lived a full life because of that,” she says.

But, the title took on an additional meeting when she found out that she was pregnant. “I was like ‘Oh, she’s not going to be born with a broken heart, she’s going to be perfect, and then experience life to.’ So that was kind of this full circle moment,” she says. “I’ll want to protect her with everything that I have but the truth is, you know, she will go through situations and grow from them and learn from them and be stronger because of them.”

Nobody’s Born With a Broken Heart kicks off with “Easy to Miss,” which was released last month alongside the announcement of the album. It’s a pop-tinged country song that starts our journey with this album on a somber one as she says, “I think that is a good song to start with and get an idea of what the record might feel like.” But don’t be fooled, the record is diverse both musically and in its lyrical content.

One of the highlights of the record is the 1-2 bunch of “Pay Me Back In Change” and “Rough Ride for a Cowboy.” The aforementioned is an acoustic-driven country song that serves as a prequel or a “warning shot,” if you will, to the upbeat “Rough Ride for a Cowboy” that lyrically touches on what happens when you ultimately leave a relationship that you left after providing multiple chances for change. This sort of dynamic was intentional for Porter, in terms of how she wanted to lay out the track-listing and tell the story.

“The track-listing was such a project for us to work on. You know, you think about like, you don’t want too many ballads next to each other, or you want the story to progress in a certain way,” she says. “I think that’s life, too. You have a low moment then a high moment, then a low moment and a high moment, this little water-flow of life.”

An additional standout track and one that shows the diversity of Nobody’s Born With a Broken Heart and her own talent is “Confession.” It comes right around the middle and is a piano-ballad that doubles as one of the more devastating songs on the record, telling the story of someone who is reflecting on the pain they caused another and the regret they carry as they are still in love with them.

It’s a song she wrote back in 2020 and even though she is as a happily married woman now, Porter knows that the aforementioned feeling is a fairly universal one. “I do think that everyone has a situation before they find their person — or even when they do — that they relate back to an old relationship that you compare everybody to,” she says. “I think thats a pretty common feeling, and missing someone, maybe having a secret that you still love somebody.”

One of the more fun songs on the record is “Have Your Beer,” which has a chorus that is begging to get stuck in your head (and it will), and lyrically is a play on the phrase “you can’t have your cake and eat it, too.” If you had to narrow it down to one song on the record that’s for the girls, so to speak, well this is certainly the one. “‘[Have Your Beer]’ is a bit more of a fun and sassy song. I wrote that with my really good friends, and we were just messing with that hook that I thought was clever and cute,” Porter says. “It gives me my Taylor Swift moment on the record I feel like, I’m really excited.”

For all of the heartbreak and fun songs, even the love songs, there’s one song on the record for Porter that stands out as the self-described “marriage song,” and it’s “Foreclosure.” That may be surprising at first as it’s not particularly a love song, but more so touches on what happens when the initial spark inevitably starts to fade. Referencing specific things with the line “He fell behind on the flowers / I started showing up late,” it’s another song that likely will unfortunately relate to more people than I’m sure Porter would like. “Anybody who’s been in a marriage who says they don’t feel this, they’re lying,” Porter says regarding “Foreclosure. “There’s times that its challenging and you have to work at your marriage a lot more, and there’s times where it’s super easy.”

She further explains, “That song, to me, is that and it’s the idea of you thought it was going to be one way and it’s been a lot more challenging. I think my husband will say the same thing. There’s times when we’re dealing with like, family issues or it just gets harder to connect and you’ll have days where you’re like ‘Man, this is really tricky’ or ‘Are we gonna be okay?’ And then you are, and it’s a beautiful thing that you got through together.”

As previously mentioned,  the album closes with the title-track and through everything we hear and experience on the record, Porter deliberately wanted to end on somewhat of a more hopeful note. “There’s always healing in every situation and every time you get your heartbroken in any situation — one day there will be light at the end of the tunnel,” she says.

Nobody’s Born With a Broken Heart may be, at times, a superbly devastating record — but much like Porter herself, it’s not one dimensional. “Have Your Beer” is of course fun and serves up plenty of attitude, “Young At Heart” elicits a nostalgic feeling, and “Coming Home to You” is a beautifully-written love letter. It’s a rollercoaster of a record in the best way, but for Porter who wanted to accurately construe what her life has been and what it is like today, it shouldn’t be any other way.

Ultimately, it’s a record that tells the story of perseverance and hope. Much like many of us, Porter has lived at times an exciting and painful life. There’s love, there’s fun, and there’s loss that feels like the end of the world. We know, with time, that of course the moments of feeling that loss are not the end of the world. While none of us may have been born with a broken heart, what broke all of our hearts will one day seem small as we grow and come out stronger on the other side.

That’s where Nobody’s Born With a Broken Heart lies, and it’s a damn good record for it.