TWO years ago country-pop artist Jasmine Rae found herself unwittingly caught in the middle of an ugly plagiarism lawsuit.
In the blue corner was pop behemoth Ed Sheeran and US country megastar couple Faith Hill and Tim McGraw and in the red corner were Rae's Australian co-writers Sean Carey and Beau Golden.
Despite not throwing any punches herself, Rae was copping blows from every angle.
Carey and Golden had lodged a lawsuit accusing Sheeran and his co-writers of plagiarising Rae's 2015 single When I Found You.
Sheeran and his collaborators had written the track The Rest Of Our Life for Hill and McGraw in 2017 and Carey and Golden claimed it was a "blatant copy" of the song they co-wrote with Rae. However, Rae chose not to partake in the lawsuit.
"People didn't understand I wasn't involved in the lawsuit," Rae says. "The lawsuit was against Ed Sheeran and other people who were involved like people who just sang it [Hill and McGraw], so all the fans of those artists thought I was suing those artists. So I was copping hate from those fans, plus feeling like I was misunderstood and didn't want to open up.
"I couldn't actually talk about it because I didn't trust anyone. It was a really tough time where I thought I couldn't win no matter what."
The lawsuit was settled in November 2018, but it had a lasting impact on Rae. She was hurt by the disclosing of private information in the lawsuit about the writing process of When I Found You, which shook her confidence in co-writing.
"In a co-writing session you're throwing out intimate ideas," she says. "Really intimate ideas from your own life and those things you don't expect to be shared or used against you."
For 18 months Rae found herself increasingly disengaged from the music industry and questioning if "people actually need my music".
This was despite Rae boasting 10 Australian country No.1 singles and being the only female artist to win the fan-voted CMC Oz Artist of the Year.
Rae began writing alone using more electronic-pop computer tools like Logic Pro and GarageBand to create loops, readily heard on the single Green Light.
But slowly Rae regained confidence in the process of collaboration. The result was the 32-year-old Sydneysider's forthcoming fifth album Lion Side. The album was recorded between Sydney and Nashville with producer Lindsey Jackson (Jessica Mauboy, The McClymonts) and sees Rae return with a positive affirmation.
On the title track Rae sings, "I've got a lion side/ A fight inside/ No need to protect me" and then on Don't Do It For The Haters about the social media backlash she received from the lawsuit she offers, "It's like a sugar coated/ Kinda bitter pill/ Nothing shows the good like a bad day will."
Ultimately Rae says Lion Side is about recognising your own flaws and strengths and learning to accept that self-assessment.
"A few people have listened to it and said it's a strong-sounding record and yet really vulnerable," she says. "I have realised that being strong and vulnerable, there's actually not a lot of difference between the two."
Jasmine Rae's Lion Side is released on July 24.