The inspiration for Brooke Eden’s new song “Sunroof” actually came to her in a perfectly unlikely place: the parking lot of a Mexican restaurant. While she waited for her girlfriend to pick up their takeout order, Eden felt the sun beaming in through the windows and cracked the sunroof for the first time all year.
“It was just the promise of spring and summer again after a really cold winter that year. I thought this feeling — this free feeling — reminds me of what it felt like to fall in love,” Eden tells Rolling Stone on a Zoom call in early March.
It’s an apt metaphor: After grazing the country charts in 2017 with “Act Like You Don’t,” Eden had to take a break from touring to deal with a health issue. She was also going through the struggle of self-acceptance and coming out, as her relationship with girlfriend Hilary Hoover deepened.
On the plus side, Eden’s time away from the road allowed her to focus on making music. She found a new sound with producer-songwriter Jesse Frasure, who has penned hits for Thomas Rhett, Jon Pardi, and Old Dominion. “I went to Jesse and was like, ‘Listen, I want to create this sound that’s retro and soul and country,’” Eden says.
“Sunroof” does as much, blending a cyclical, Jackson 5-style chord progression with handclaps, trebly guitar, and Eden’s laid-back vocal delivery. Eden wrote the song with Frasure and Sarah Buxton, capturing the first flush of romance and the feel of a sunny day when it’s “75 degrees outside with the summer sunshine on my face,” as she sings in the chorus. Along with Eden’s “No Shade” (and an upcoming third release), the song highlights an artist who emerged from a difficult period both happy and in love.
In the video for “Sunroof,” Eden traveled back to her Jupiter, Florida, hometown and cast her girlfriend as her love interest. The two ride around a scenic coastal area in a classic Ford Mustang, sipping on lemonade and holding hands by the beach. It’s innocent and sweet, yet immensely powerful — very few country videos, even in 2021, depict same-sex relationships.
“I thought it was important that we record this in my hometown, the place that made me, me. I also knew it was important for Hilary to be in this video with me because this song is a love song,” Eden says. “I felt like it was important for her to be in it and to normalize our love and for people to see that our love looks just like everybody else’s.”
It did take a little convincing for Hoover, a music business executive used to working behind the scenes, to sign on, however.
“[She] was like, ‘Hon, you know this isn’t my forte,’” Eden says. “I was like, ‘Alright, I guess I’m just going to have to hire an actress to be you.’ And she was like, ‘I’ll do it!’ It was a really quick, 15-second conversation of her realizing that was definitely not what she wanted me to do. And then once she got on set, she was a total natural.”
That idea of feeling free and easy in “Sunroof” translates to all parts of Eden’s life now. Since making the choice to live openly, she doesn’t have to deal with the stress or fear of how she might be received by fans or people in the business. That’s made all the difference in this new chapter of her life.
“I went into this process so confident and so steadfast in who I am and in my relationship,” she says. “You know, there’s not a whole lot that can trip you up when you’re proud of who you are and how you got here. It’s so nice and so easy to have these conversations with people when I just get to tell the truth.”