Single Review: Charli Adams – “Headspace” (feat. Ruston Kelly)

Bonus review: Carly Pearce featuring Patty Loveless, “Dear Miss Loretta” (for Country Universe)


I didn’t have “and now, a treat from our friends in the emo-pop world” on my 2021 bingo card, but these days you just have to roll with the punches.

Seriously, I haven’t been able to stop listening to this since I first heard it, and while I’m late to covering it, better late than never. I’ll confess: seeing Ruston Kelly’s name attached to this single is what made me give it a shot, given his own pivot into emo territory (just, you know, from a country state of mind).

And sure enough, while I can’t say Charli Adams is an easy sell for readers of this website, I love her fractured yet clear tone here, especially against Kelly’s more nasal yet earnest delivery. It’s a true duet that finds two characters personally imploding for their own reasons and trying to find comfort in each other. Only, the song implies that they’re together simply to quench a loneliness rather than solve their problems or possibly find something together that could lead to something more for both of them. The background context is a little vague, to be fair, but the general conceit that these two burned each other to the ground rather than helped each other hits regardless.

I should also say that this is less emo-country-inspired and more Americana-meets-’80s-heartland-rock in ballad form, where the synth tones are there to support an atmospheric production that this song greatly benefits from, if only to add to the dramatic tension of these respective spirals. It’s huge in scope, but also hazy enough to keep that fatigue always lingering in the background. A random surprise, but a welcome one all the same.

Grade: A-

Written by Charleston Olivia Adams and Ruston Kelly

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