"Everyone wears the mistakes that they have made in their life like a big scar," Clare Bowen tells PEOPLE. "No one is alone in this. But those are the things that make you strong"

By Tricia Despres
May 23, 2019 10:00 AM

It’s 11 p.m., and Clare Bowen is content.

On this relatively cool night in Australia, she finds herself in the comfortable confines of her parents’ home, enjoying a sweet respite from a life that has been quite busy as of late. Soon, she will retreat to her old bedroom to dream of what the future will soon hold for her.

And she will be eternally grateful.

“This is the longest rest I have had in seven years,” Bowen admits to PEOPLE. “Jet lag has taken over my soul at the moment, but that’s OK. I’m ready for all that lies ahead.”

Claire Bowen
Clare Bowen

And yes, much lies ahead for the actress once best known for playing the character of Scarlett O’Connor on the hit television show Nashville. Most notably is the July 12 release of her self-titled debut album, with its lead single “Let It Rain” premiering on PEOPLE Thursday.

“I personally believe that every person that comes into our life, whether good or bad, makes us the person you are,” says Bowen, showcasing the accent that has delighted so many of her fans throughout the years. “Everything that happens in your life — whether it’s unbearable or makes you fragile — happened to make you stronger. That’s what ‘Let It Rain’ is all about.”

Claire Bowen
Clare Bowen
| Credit: Shore Fire Media

Co-written by Bowen alongside Josh Kaufman, Wyatt Durrette and husband and longtime collaborator Brandon Robert Young, “Let It Rain” was created on a winter afternoon in the living room of her Nashville home. The song’s heartfelt lyrics touch on those parts of all of us that we all increasingly try to hide with lies and generalities and bright and cheery Instagram filters, in the hopes that no one will see our truth.

But as far as Bowen is concerned, it’s that truth that makes life beautiful.

“This song literally fell out of us that day,” says Bowen, who makes her directorial debut in the accompanying music video for “Let It Rain.” “Everyone wears the mistakes that they have made in their life like a big scar. Those scars often come from whenever your lowest point was. It’s when you experienced that fall from grace. Everyone goes through it. No one is alone in this. But those are the things that make you strong.”

Clare Bowen
| Credit: Katie Kauss KDK Creative/Shore Fire Media

Bowen speaks from experience, as she has long discussed the fragility of her own childhood, a childhood that found her fighting cancer starting at the tender age of 4 years old.

“I grew up in the hospital,” Bowen recalls. “And now, when I see my scars, I realize that I wouldn’t trade any of them in for anything. I love tattoos, but really, my scars tell my story. Things that beat you down can set you apart in the long run, you know?”

The mental scars … well, she has a few of those too.

“I mean, your career is supposed to go a certain way and it doesn’t,” Bowen tells PEOPLE. “Sometimes it felt like I was losing, but now I look back and see that it all turned out exactly the way it was meant to be.”

Claire Bowen
Clare Bowen

Bowen has also announced plans to head out on her own headlining tour this summer, including stops in cities such as Chicago, New York City and, of course, her adopted hometown of Nashville, Tennessee.

“I can’t wait to tour the states and get back in front of my fans,” says Bowen. “I was able to build such a loyal legion of fans through my time on Nashville and those fans have stayed with me through it all. And I think those fans are going to gravitate towards ‘Let It Rain.’ It’s so easy to feel like you screwed everything up and that you have never been good enough. This song is going to show everyone who hears it that we’ve all been there. Sometimes you just have to put your hair down and love yourself for who you are. No one is perfect.”

Well, except maybe her husband of nearly two years, Brandon.

“We both have our past and our stories, but we found a home in each other,” she explains of the musician, who asked her for her hand in marriage onstage at the Grand Ole Opry back in 2015. “It’s the best feeling in the world to be Brandon’s girl.”

And yes, Bowen admits there was a time when she didn’t think she would experience a love such as this.

“I’m so grateful I found him,” shares Bowen, whose new album will include the track “All the Beds I’ve Made” as a tender tribute to her husband. “I really thought I was going to spend my life being disappointed about love. And let’s just say we tried very hard to not fall in love, but we simply couldn’t fight it.”

She takes a deep breath and exhales softly.

“There is just something when you find the right one,” she says quietly. “Everything else that has happened to you and everything else you have been through just pales in comparison. It’s so lovely to live life with him.”