Billboard compares singer Anna Vaus to Taylor Swift

Country singer Anna Vaus set up a mock bar in a Poway field to record her new single, "Girl in a Bar."
Country singer Anna Vaus set up a mock bar in a Poway field to record her new single, “Girl in a Bar,” a song which has been mentioned in Billboard and Rolling Stone.
(Song video screen grab)

When Poway-raised Anna Vaus released her “Girl in a Bar” music video, the 24-year-old singer wasn’t expecting her new single to attract the attention of the big names in the music industry.

“Girl in a Bar” kicked off the list of “must-hear” songs in Rolling Stone’s March 29 country music picks of the week. Vaus also joined Carrie Underwood, Eric Church, Chris Young and others on Billboard’s rundown of best new country songs. A mention in “Music Row” magazine credits the Poway native with “blending refreshing hooks and unmistakably relatable lyrics.”

If her last name sounds familiar, there is good reason. Her father, Steve Vaus, is the longtime mayor of Poway who narrowly lost his bid last fall for Dianne Jacob’s termed-out seat on the county Board of Supervisors. What’s more, the resumé of the North County politician, usually sporting his trademark cowboy hat, includes winning a Grammy Award.

Anna, who recently moved to Nashville to bolster her music career, explained that the “Girl in a Bar” title and storyline emanated from a random dream.

“In my dream, I was dating Harry Styles, and he broke up with me,” she recalled. As her reverie continued, the British singer happened to walk into a bar where she was sitting. “In my dream, I say to one of my friends, ‘Great, he’s Harry Styles, and I’m just a girl in a bar.’ ”

She jotted her words down and took the lyric idea to Luke Laird, a Grammy-winning songwriter/producer whom she met after being selected as one of six promising young talents selected to be in the Association of Independent Music Publishers’ 2018 songwriters class. (She’s also an alumna of Country Music Television’s Next Women of Country 2019.)

Together they composed, “Girl in a Bar.” It’s one of five songs on an EP she plans to release early this summer.

Anna’s brother, Jacob Vaus, a Dodge Film School senior at Chapman University, offered to direct her video in Poway last September. But the pandemic made it difficult.

“This feels like the kind of song that needs to be filmed in a bar,” Anna said, “but what do we do? No bars were open. Then Jake called me one afternoon and said, ‘What if we build one?’ ”

So with the help of several friends, a U-Haul truck and access to a vacant lot, they fabricated walls and hauled them, along with chairs, tables and a bar to the Poway location off Garden Road, where they filmed a creative video in a day.

Because bars were closed due to the pandemic, a mock bar was set up in a Poway field for the videotaping of "Girl in a Bar."
Because bars were closed due to the pandemic, a mock bar was set up on a vacant Poway field for the videotaping of “Girl in a Bar.”
(“Girl in a Bar” music video)

Listeners streaming “Girl in a Bar” have no hint of the behind-the-scenes drama. During the shoot, Anna heard screams and discovered an uninvited visitor had invaded their set — a large rattlesnake. One of the crew captured it.

“We were a little uneasy as we continued,” Anna recalled. “We didn’t know how many other rattlesnakes were around.”

As for the song’s publicity, which includes a Billboard comment that “Vaus’s sweet delivery recalls Taylor Swift,” the young singer modestly responds, “I never expected a Rolling Stone write-up. I never expected a write-up in Billboard. I would have been happy with six people listening to it.”

She also is quick to shift attention to her brother. Turns out, Jacob directed the video for a second song highlighted in the same article of Billboard and Rolling Stone — Pryor and Lee’s “Good Ol’ Dogs and God.”