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“It’s an accidental love child,” says Nashville-based singer-songwriter Kate Tucker of Little Reader, her new and unexpected pop music collaboration with fellow songwriter and guitarist, Ross Flournoy, late of Merge Records bands The Broken West and Apex Manor. The duo’s debut album The Big Score (out May 19th, 2017) was produced by Mark Watrous of The Shins.

In addition to working on their own projects, Tucker and Flournoy have both found success writing for others in recent years. If you’ve watched Jake Tapper’s CNN show, then you’ve heard Flournoy’s theme music, and Tucker has found herself on stage at the Sundance Film Festival for her work in film scoring and soundtracks. Between the two of them, dozens of television shows have used Tucker and Flournoy’s songs. So, when these two met for the first time, in the hills over Los Angeles, where Memphis-born Flournoy now lives, it was merely to try writing together at the request of their publisher, or as Tucker jokes, “It was basically as blind a date as a co-write can be.” But, as we now know, the pair ultimately decided to take it all the way, and soon, Flournoy was in Nashville recording with Kate and her mates. It’s a good thing. The songs on The Big Score feel personal. Worn-in just underneath the freshness of their sound.

Tucker grew up in a family of truck drivers, and this lifelong experience with the American road is always in her work. Even in Little Reader’s most Depeche Mode-moments, the rust belt is there, following Tucker from her beginnings in Akron, to busking in Paris, to Seattle with her dream-pop band Sons of Sweden, then making the requisite stop in Brooklyn bringing about a more emotive, folk-leaning span of songwriting. And now onto Nashville and Little Reader. From the album’s opener and first single “Speed of Light,” listeners will feel like they are taken into a John Hughes film, namely “Pretty In Pink,” specifically right into Trax, the record store where Molly Ringwald’s “Andie” worked, and where Annie Potts asked for “applause, applause, applause!” Tucker actually references a different film. “Star Wars.” “It was around Christmas and we were all in ‘Star Wars’ mode,” she says. “I was feeling pretty great about a guy I was into, and between that and the onscreen reunion of Princess Leia and Han Solo, we came up with a song about the multi-dimensionality of love, and how it can maybe even outlast ‘time’ as we know it.” It’s lighthearted fun for those who have fought-for perspective on what’s lighthearted and/or fun. Namely, it can take some heartbreak – a “heavy heart” – to know what feeling lighthearted even is. A specific example?

The Little Reader track “Burn Eternal,” a breezy, almost flouncy pop tune that, just when you think it’s a lark, sneaks up with the chorus “If you walk away, you’ll have a hole inside your heart, just like one in mine you made.” Oh. Ouch. Didn’t know it was like that! “Heartache is its own dark medicine and owning it can be surprisingly empowering,” Tucker confirms. “And The Pretenders is a great band.” Okay, done deal! The debut album by Little Reader arrives May 19th, 2017, preceded by the single and music video “Speed of Light.” The 11-song album contains the bonus track “Point of No Return,” which also appears on the Rough Trade compilation “A Song A Day Keeps the Pain Away,” a subscription sampler totaling 90 songs, with all proceeds benefitting the Southern Poverty Law Center.