Even if you know Brooke Eden and cheer for Brooke Eden, you might be meeting Brooke Eden for the first time on her new Choosing You EP. The 5-song collection is an ocean breeze cutting through a brutal August heat. Vocally, she does things few are capable of, but lyrically ... that's where the magic is.

"Comeback Love" is the song that sums it up best. Producer Jesse Frasure built a funky, '70s influenced arrangement for her to swing from, and the result is a reminder of why she's always been a celebrated vocalist. The melody woke her from a dream one night and made its way to a co-write with Frasure and Sarah Buxton the next day.

"I was like, ‘Y’all, I have this idea, and it’s about this independent person who is just like real sassy about the fact that she doesn’t need anybody," Eden tells Taste of Country, "and then she meets this person and all of a sudden she is obsessed with them … which was me," she adds with a laugh.

"I was best friends with my doctors and nurses, and I was like, ‘Uh, this is probably not good.’

The object of her obsession was and is fiancee Hilary Hoover, who Eden officially introduced as her partner in an Instagram video in January of 2021. As you'll soon see, it wasn't a secret to those who knew her best (or really anyone who followed her on Instagram), but being out in country music was — and still is — scary.

“I was like, ‘I have no idea if country music is gonna hug me and embrace me for this, or if they’re gonna be like … kinda Chely Wright me," the 33-year-old says, referring to the industry's chilly reaction to Wright's pioneering announcement in 2010.

Spoiler alert: fans have embraced her in ways she couldn't have imagined. In June she performed a new song called "Left You for Me" for the first time.

"I put it out a week before CMA Fest. I’m standing on stage and I’m like, 'Oh, maybe a couple people will know this song,' she tells Evan Paul (listen to the full conversation below). "People were literally singing it back to me, word for word, verses and chorus. I was, like, getting a little weepy on stage."

The new music is bold and confident and a revelation for those who thought they knew Eden. And to think, none of it would have happened without an ulcer and a really good book.

Taste of Country: Listening to this EP feels like getting to know you for the first time. On “Knock” I hear an Elle King vibe.

Brooke Eden: She’s my favorite. I love Elle King.

Have you ever worked together?

We have not worked together but I was touring a lot when her “Ex’s & Oh’s” was out. That would be like the one cover that I would cover during my shows. But yeah, I’m like very influenced by like that sound in itself — kind of that soulful, rebel — I don’t even know what to call it. It reminds me of like Duffy and Adele, the U.K. kind of ‘70s artists. I really gravitated to that in my adult years. And then I grew up on ‘90s country. I like to combine all of my love of music into my music.

You came out a year-and-a-half ago. What was the final straw?

There were a lot of moments for me. I was in the closet for five years, so it was a long time of like just toxicity. Basically, the first lightbulb moment for me was, I got really sick. I was like almost passing out on stage. My iron in my body was depleting really quickly and I was having to go get iron infusions. I was best friends with my doctors and nurses, and I was like, "Uh, this is probably not good." Basically, they ended up doing this camera pill which is so cool. You swallow a camera, and it takes all these pictures in your body, and I found out that I had ulcers in my small intestine. My doctor was like, "There is no pill for this. There’s no cure for this. You have to take care of yourself."

I knew exactly what it was as soon as he said it. I’m hiding such a huge part of myself, and for me that’s really hard. I feel like some people are more comfortable because they’re more private. I, over here, am an open book. I’m a songwriter. I’m constantly singing and talking about my life, so it was very, very hard on me and super taxing.

"There are moments in my life — I’m a very stable, mentally sound person 99 out of 100 days. But I even got to a place where I was like, 'Would it just be easier for me if I wasn’t here anymore?'"

And then I’m so in love with my girlfriend at the time and I wanted to marry her. We’re both open books. We both wanted to live our lives. I kept on thinking, 'Man, I wish that somebody else would come out. It would be so much easier for me to come out if somebody else came out." Then I started thinking, maybe I need to come out so it’s easier for someone else. I was reading this book, in probably October of 2020. The BS button got pushed and everything that didn’t matter was to the side.

What book was it?

I was reading a book called Untamed by Glennon Doyle. It talks about the way society shapes us, like men have to be super strong and bold and fierce and women are supposed to be sleek and sexy and skinny. But I’m reading, and she’s talking about integrity and just clearly defines integrity as when you portray to the world the person you are in your home. And I realized in that moment that I had been living my life with no integrity. And I was like, “Why am I doing this?”

So, in that moment I was like, “Hil (her girlfriend), I have to come out.” And she’s like, “Praise the Lord!”

attachment-Choosing You
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Who were you keeping it from? And who knew?

That’s the weird thing. That was the uncomfortable thing. I feel like everybody kind of knew. Like I’m posting with Hilary all the time. Our families knew. My record label knew, yes. It was very much — in the beginning — like, you can be in a relationship in your own house privately and be a country singer, but you can’t be out and be a country singer. I was told that.

But I had never said it to my fans, so it was like this weird elephant in the room. And the story wasn’t mine anymore. I was like, "No. I gotta take my story back and I gotta own my life and own who I am.”

Are you hearing from people that are there and want to come out?

It happens probably at least 10 times a week where someone will DM me and be like, “Thank you so much. I came out to my family and showed them your video. And this helped me come out to my family and they understand it.”

I had somebody reach out to me just recently and say, “You saved my life." And that, to me, is everything. There are moments in my life — I’m a very stable, mentally sound person 99 out of 100 days. But I even got to a place where I was like, “Would it just be easier for me if I wasn’t here anymore? Would it be easier for other people if I wasn’t here anymore?” So to hear that I can affect someone and say, "Hey, your life is gonna be great. Maybe this is the way society has functioned for many years, but there is nothing wrong with you."

I had a mom reach out to me and say, "I was really worried. I was fearful for my daughter because I know life can be harder. And I see you and your fiancee, and it makes me realize there is hope for my daughter."

Are you already working on your next project?

I am. Nobody knows about it yet, but I never stop writing.

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