Record Of The Week # 105

Lainey Wilson – Sayin’ What I’m Thinkin’

After three years of living in a caravan, hoping for a break in Nashville, Wilson is starting to get traction. The album includes earlier single releases. A check on the internet sees her being identified as ‘one to watch’. This isn’t her first release but now there’s discernible momentum, with a major record label behind her.

She has an expressive and mellifluous voice often backed by harmonies on the chorus. The backing doesn’t lean on traditional instruments and is a pop rock confection with the odd acoustic guitar and mandolin. If that isn’t enough country for you then her voice and breadth of sounds compensate. The triumph of it all is that the ‘session musician catatonic contribution’ with its digital homogenous hard brittle finish is absent and in its place vibrancy, authenticity and funk. It’s hook-drenched and radio friendly.

The alchemist is Jay Joyce: he is amongst the doyen of country producers with Ashley McBryde, Eric Church and Brothers Osborne on his CV. And you can see how His earlier rock career influences his contribution, thoughtfully applied rather than the usual bro-country torpor. Lyrically it tumbles into Nashville storylines of small towns, drinking, partying, ‘single and free’, ended relationships and knee bending for the legends of country music including the song “WWDD” (What Would Dolly Do?).

“Neon Diamond” is a sing-a-long rock song made country by Wilson’s delicious Louisiana drawl and delivery. She eschews wedded bliss (and the ring) for a night on the town – ‘my left hand ain’t interested in anything but a drink’. “Sunday Best” tells us ‘right now forgiveness ain’t something I can find’ with drink easing the pain: but more importantly this is wickedly funky with a bass line that should also be bottled. “Small Town, Girl” also has a memorable bass line with an outlaw vibe and the combination of a great melody, voice and wailing electric guitar solos elevate it all. 

The mood is taken down to something more reflective and slower with “Dirty Looks”, where such censure comes about as she gets amorous in public. On “Things A Man Oughta Know” the electrification gets dialled down. A sensitive and heartfelt lyric that encapsulates her voice inside a belting melody, whilst a tasteful and bluesy guitar adds depth before a mandolin ends this too soon. Things are wrapped up with “Sayin’ What I’m Thinkin’”, an admission of guilt that she wears her heart on her sleeve with no filter: the declaration is about a relationship and its honesty. It sounds like after all the fun and braggadocio that’s preceded this she’s signing off being deadly serious. The hypnotic locomotive insistent beat and the harmonies are compelling. 

I reckon this is an end of year pick already. I hope she soars.

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