On her debut EP, Good As Gone, Allie Dunn overcomes her fears and transforms them into a collection of breath-taking songs. With a strong desire to bring back that nostalgic Laurel Canyon vibe while adding her own flair, Dunn shows off her sparkling voice and melodies to match on a backdrop of organic instrumentation.
Dunn notes that each of the four songs is a reflection of a different time in her life, particularly her experience with love and fears surrounding it. This becomes obvious in the first few lines of opening track, “Need Somebody” as she projects, “I was dead set on dying alone/85 with no one to call my own/Love was never a friend of mine/’Til it found me/Now I find that everybody needs somebody” Written in 2020 during the early days of quarantine with boyfriend Collin Rowe, whom she was staying with at the time, Dunn realized that we all need a support system in order to survive in life – once the right person entered her life to change her perception.
“It was a truth that I’ve been wanting to say, but was scared to say it,” she remarks. Confronting uncomfortable truths is a theme that arises throughout the powerful project. This shines through potently on “Do You Miss Me (NYC),” a love letter to the city she grew up in but left behind in order to pursue her dreams. Caught in a moment of fear and vulnerability at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic when it was unclear when she’d be able to return to New York to see her family, the lyrics woke Dunn up one morning, leading her to the piano where she finished the song in 30 minutes.
Growing up in New York, Dunn was instilled with a love of music and performing when she began taking piano lessons at age 10 and landed a starring role as Tracy Turnblad in her school’s production of Hairspray. “It was something so special about it that I really wanted to pursue it,” she recalls to Audiofemme. By age 13, while most of her peers where listening to Justin Bieber, she and her dad were immersing themselves in the Eagles’ classic rock discography, sparking her desire to write songs. Two years later, she acquired a guitar, but says, “It was more about the people I was playing it to than myself at that time.”
“I would write to make other people happy in a sense, or invite them to my world at that age, which was interesting for young me,” she explains. “But as time got on, it started to become more personal, my writing, and more about stories that I’ve been through and what I found that people relate to. I think that’s so powerful, because at the end of the day, the reason I write is to give people something to make their day better.”
Later her perspective shifted toward creating a space for people to feel safe being themselves. “Every day, people come across things that aren’t always authentic, and sometimes people feel like they have to fit a mold. I especially went through that,’” she continues. “For me, it’s being as honest and authentic as possible in my writing [that] allows people to realize it’s okay to feel, reminding them that there is still authenticity in this world of craziness right now. That’s my main motivation.”
Dunn carries this pure motivation into Good As Gone, reflecting her genuine spirit. It’s a great introduction to her ethereal blend of pop country and Americana, but the journey to get here was winding. Her mother was a doctor, and Dunn initially planned to follow that same path. “I wanted to have a career that helps people,” Dunn says. She studied pre-med in college, writing songs and performing with her band around town in between biology classes. But during her senior year, she was met with a life-changing epiphany while shadowing a doctor in the trauma unit. There, she encountered the family of a young patient who was in critical condition.
“That was a wake up call for me,” she says of the pivotal moment. “I was like, this is not something I’m passionate about. I’d rather allow someone else who really loves this stuff to do it.” It became clear then that music and songwriting was her true passion and life’s purpose; just one month after graduating from college in 2019, she was living in Nashville, pursuing her musical dreams unabashedly.
Still, a piece of her spirit will always remain connected to home, and “Do You Miss Me (NYC)” captures the homesickness and longing for a place she’s unsure that she fits into anymore. “You got a million people/You don’t need no girl like me to stay,” Dunn sings passionately in what she calls the EP’s most vulnerable number. “That song came out of my heart. It just poured out, I had no control over it. I don’t know what it was, but it just came out of me,” she expresses. “It was the first truth I’ve written since being in Nashville that I was not afraid to hold back. It was a moment for me where I was like, ‘why am I so scared to write what I’m feeling?’ because I think that’s where the magic comes from. That song was a turning point for me as an artist, because from then on out, I stuck to the truth and said the truth. I’m thankful for that song.”
Dunn reveals that “NYC” is the ideal lead-in to her next project that will explore her story in even greater depth. Until then, Good As Gone serves as a well-rounded introduction and glimpse into the soul of one of Nashville’s brightest new talents. “This EP was a little a foot in the water to let everyone see how I write, and if they can relate to any of the songs on the EP, then my goal is complete,” she proclaims. “I hope people see honesty and want to be part of that world where you’re allowed to be yourself. I want to bring back the feeling that music is something that people find solace in, and I hope that people find solace in my music, for people to find some piece of truth that they’re going through in my music.”