Whiskeytown Crier cover

Collaborative Review: Erin Enderlin–Whiskeytown Crier

Conversation

Brianna: So, this is an album we were both intrigued by. It’s essentially a concept album wherein each song tells the story of a member within the fictional community of Whiskeytown. After a brief introduction where all this is explained, the album kicks off with “Caroline.” I personally found this to be an interesting story, detailing teenage love gone wrong.

Megan: The concept is probably the best thing about this album. The songs are good, but they’re enhanced by the connector. You’re right, Caroline is a great character, and that story is essentially like any small-town teenage pregnancy, except I don’t think many dads end up murdering the boyfriend. You can imagine your grandma sitting around telling you that story of Caroline Radcliffe and wondering if it really happened. “Baby Sister” is a lot like that too.

Brianna: I admit, the twist where the dad murdered Caroline’s boyfriend really surprised me, and it makes the song stand out. I also agree about “Baby Sister” being a bit different, since said sister also murders someone.

Brianna: I love the instrumentation of “Ain’t it Just Like a Cowboy.” I like the imagery,as the song discusses being left by a boyfriend who is a cowboy. Is it just me, or is this song somehow a little different from your stereotypical sad love ballad?

Megan: It’s a little more reflective, I think. There are a lot of heartbreak songs on here actually, and that could potentially really bring the album down, but it doesn’t in this case because you see them as all different characters. You see the girl in “The Blues are Alive and Well,” drinking in the bar, as being different from the one the cowboy left, and different still from the woman in “Till It’s Gone” who’s drinking alone and smoking cigarettes. I love Erin Enderlin’s knack for capturing the same sentiment in so many different ways.

Brianna: Apart from the actual concept, I think her ability to so deftly draw so many different characters is what makes this album unique. I mean,aside from those slower songs, there’s also the more upbeat, sort of humorous vibe on “Jesse Joe’s Cigarettes,” where a girl is smoking her ex’s cigarettes and drinking his whiskey. She was also left by her boyfriend, but again, she’s not the same woman from “Till it’s Gone.” That’s a really good point. I’m glad you brought it up.

Megan: Good point on “Jesse Joe” as well, that song adds something a little more lighthearted which still fits. I still say the best heartbreak song here, maybe the best one overall, is “The Coldest in Town.” I know you love that one too. Also have to say Randy Houser’s participation here has to be the most shockingly underrated thing on this album. Tell me again why he’s singing shit like “We Went” whenever he can nail stuff like this.

Brianna: I love that duet so much! I honestly had no clue he could sing like that. I loved the way the two of them traded places in who sang lead on the first and second choruses. It’s one of my favorite songs on this whole album. My other favorite is “His Memory Walks on Water.” I love how it’s about a bad father, but upon his death, his daughter chooses only to remember the good times. This song just really got to me.

Megan: That one connected with me as well because I think it’s something a lot of us do, only remember the good in someone. We haven’t mentioned, and I can’t believe we haven’t since we’ve talked about this so much in private, the little noises and things between songs. Birds chirping, crickets, in this case, pouring rain and church bells. Then you hear the town crier telling you all about the daughter standing there at her dad’s funeral in the pouring rain, and it’s that much more poignant.

Brianna: OH, how have we not mentioned those little sound samples? They added so much to the album because they really put you in that place. They make you feel like you’re there. I like that one with the church bell the most.

Megan: Yeah, they added a lot to the concept. Talking about favorite songs, though, mine would be “The Coldest in Town” and “Broken.” “Broken” almost had me in tears more than once. It’s talking about a woman who married a man she calls a “bastard even though he knew his daddy” when she was only eighteen. Her family was a broken one, and she didn’t know how to be anything else. She eventually gave up their baby for adoption because she believed it was the only way to break the cycle. So much emotion pouring out of Erin Enderlin on this song, it’s unreal.

Brianna: I agree about “Broken,” definitely one of my top songs. That part where she talks about giving their baby up for adoption…that was just so sad.

Megan: So, anything you didn’t like about this album?

Brianna: Well, I wish there had been a few more upbeat songs like “Jesse Joe’s Cigarettes.” I also sort of wish the covers of “Hickory Wind” and “Til I Can Make it on my Own” hadn’t been included. The latter is a good song, but I just found “Hickory Wind” boring. More than that, though, I just found the cover songs jarring. They deviated from the album concept to me, since these were stories that had already been told. They took me out of the frame of mind I was in for the rest of the album. But other than that, I think Whiskeytown Crier is very good. There is a lot of heartbreak, but all the songs manage to stand on their own. I would give it an 8 overall. What about you?

Megan: “Home Sweet Home to Me” was just a little too cute to me. She sounds sincere and all that, but it just seemed cliché. I also really could have done without the covers. I didn’t think they really took away from the story like you did, but we’ve got fourteen tracks, over fifty minutes. All sad, slow material, or most of it at least. I just felt they were unnecessary. She said they were Jamey Johnson’s idea, so I am blaming him. Other than that, I thought he did a great job producing, and we haven’t said it yet, but this is one of the most straight-up, traditional country records of 2017. Also, I have to say, it’s nice to hear such a good vocalist, even more to hear a good one with her natural twang. I’d go with a light 8 as well.

Brianna: Yeah, the steel and fiddle on the album are definitely great to hear if you’re a traditional country fan. I’m glad I finally heard a new female artist I enjoy, too. I think from this conversation, it’s pretty clear Megan and I are both recommending you check this out. Though it isn’t perfect, it’s traditional, emotional, and the concept behind it is very unique.

Collective Rating: 8/10

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