As someone born in the very early 1990’s, I have witnessed the different stages of country music. From the high days of 90’s country with AJ, Strait, Chesnut and the like, to the early days to Kenny Chesney - I've heard it all. That also means I was a fan of country before the ”dark ages” of the pop infused rubbish. In the early 2000’s I was introduced to the music of Gretchen Wilson and never found her style dangerous to the genre. She is a woman with a strong presence, demanding vocals showcasing that she is here to party and still has the country edge to her style. Admittedly, there was a gap in the time that I listened to her music. Recently I decided to see what the heck she has been up to and realized that she had a new album. I think I checked in at precisely the right time.
Ready to Get Rowdy, released on June 16th, is an album chock full of her trademark powerful vocals that we’ve all come to love and expect from Gretchen. It feels like an attempt to push toward relevancy in the genre-confused mainstream country environment. We are treated to a bar roof raisin’ anthem Stacy that will get you dancing along in no time. This harmonica filled song features the woman that just can’t get her act together and stop looking for fights. This girl is so crazy that she giving all the country girls a bad rap. It’s humorous all around, but the beat and overall tone make it one of my favorite tunes on the album.
Salt Mines taps into the relatable subject of the poor relationship that she just can’t get out of. The half drank whiskey bottles on the bed, the lack of money and the loneliness of being with someone who doesn’t care wears down on you. It unfortunately a topic that hits home to many women out there. It’s just not a desirable situation to be in and far too often people don’t know how to get out of a toxic relationship. The line, but you’re too good in bed is sometimes the justification some folks will give for not extricating themselves from the relationship.
The upbeat mid temp Summertime Town is her push back from being turned into a summer fling. After a while of playing the same game over and over, everyone eventuality wants to have something that is worth their time. Ever seen the movie, Good Luck Chuck? Even Dane Cook’s character got sick of all the one night stands because the novelty wears off, leaving you lonely once again.
What would a Gretchen Wilson album be without a blood pumpin’ country anthem? Rowdy is a balls to the wall, drink raising heavy electric guitar that is sure to get you pumped up. The heavy bass drum pounding along with her voice will get any party turned up a notch or five. It’s the type of song that’s not going to make it’s way into any history books, but it’s a definite good time.
Kid Rock is a guilty pleasure of mine as he has an ability to take his hand at nearly any genre and do it better than those who do it regularly. Unique vocals don’t hurt the cause either and paired with Gretchen Wilson - it’s excellent. The brass heavy Bad Feeling pair these two together where they sing about a break-up and finally just cutting themselves loose. It’s a soulful duet that makes for a nice touch to this album.
The other notable track is the very twangy and pedal steel heavy A Little Loretta. Officially my favorite track on this album, it is the perfect pairing to Wilson’s voice and attitude. I can only imagine how amazing it would be to have a song like this hit mainstream radio. It’s about hitting the final straw with her man after he continues to sneak around behind her back. She pulls off that ring, throws his crap out into the yard and moves on with her life.
I could spend incredible amounts of time discussing every track on this album as it is worthy of plays of it’s entirety. As someone with over two dozen plays of this album and counting, it’s the type of album that isn’t one of the history books, but it’s damn solid. It’s much more twangy then I ever anticipated and brings some depth and a lightheartedness along for the ride. In short, it’s a female offering that mainstream country needs right now, but will never have the guts to play.
Just a Massachusetts guy supporting Texas and other independent country/Americana artists.
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