Single Review: Runaway June’s “Wild West”

Rating: 9/10

For those who haven’t yet met Runaway June, I invite and encourage you to check out their debut single “Lipstick,” which unfortunately didn’t perform well on the airplay charts but could have probably been a breakout hit for them a few years ago. Now the group, composed of Naomi Cooke, Jennifer Wayne, and Hannah Mulholland, are back with their second single, “Wild West,” and once again, they are bringing something different and promising to the mainstream.

“Wild West” is a nice love song where the woman invites her lover to “steal my heart like Jesse James” and, in a self-described tip of the hat to Jennifer’s grandfather, “come in guns blazing just like old John Wayne.” It’s the type of song a lot of people will be able to relate to, with a nice western theme that so many enjoy. Still, there’s some deceivingly deep imagery and metaphors in the lyrics too; “keep me by your side all night, hold me tight like a pearl-handle .45, and just let me be the whiskey on your breath, love me like the wild, wild, wild West.” There’s something understated in these lyrics that really brings out the romance in this song in a way that a lot of modern mainstream songs can’t get right–it’s either lost in a ridiculous barrage of pickup lines (any bro country anthem you want to insert), or encapsulated in some sort of needy, clingy, creepy sentiment (Brett Young, “Sleep Without You.”) There’s a subtlety in this that says more than the directness in many of today’s songs, yet it’s still quite relatable and somewhat radio friendly-ish.

The (friendly-ish” is not just because of “Lipstick’s” failure and the fact that Runaway June consists of three females, but also because of the instrumentation. For those of you who don’t know, and have been introduced to country by “Body Like a Back Road,” those things you’re hearing–that’s a fiddle, and that’s a steel guitar. This is still modern-sounding and in say, 2005, even 2009, it might have done really well on radio. Hopefully it can manage to somehow do that in 2017, or at least sell well enough to get their album released. I am really excited about this group, and a debut album from them cannot come soon enough. For now, go listen to “Wild West.”

Written By: Jennifer Wayne, Justin Lantz, Billy Montana

Note: at the time I wrote this, this was on Apple Music but not Spotify, it may be changed now.

7 thoughts on “Single Review: Runaway June’s “Wild West””

  1. I’d love to be able to hear this but you know…stupid iTunes only releases, lol. Ugh. That said, I’m looking forward to hearing this!

    1. Yeah, it’s not the best way to release something. As one of the people who use Apple, I hate to tell people they might not be able to listen to it, but at the same time, I sort of feel like it’s my job to listen to it even more at that point, so it’s a little weird πŸ™‚ hopefully you’ll be able to hear it soon!

      1. Well…there seem to be a lot of call backs to those songs. Broadly speaking, they are all obviously set in an old west type context or more precisely, a southwestern context. Desperado, as part of the eponymously named album, is at least implicitly referencing the Dalton Gang while WW calls back Jesse James (and John Wayne, but that does not quite fit what I am suggesting. Or maybe it does). Then there is the atmospheric of life and romance in the wilds, which permeates both this song and Peaceful Easy Feeling. There is a certain intimacy in both songs. They even share a reference to sleeping under the stars or outside. More directly, it almost seems like an appeal to the same person Desperado is aimed at, and really appealing for the same thing: come out of the free-roaming life and into a relationship. They even use the term desperado.

        I could be totally off base but those things just jumped out at me on the first listen.

        1. Thank you, that was very valuable insight that honestly, aside from the broader connection and the word desperado, I hadn’t really discovered. It reminded me of a more modern take on “Cowboy, Take me Away” by the Dixie Chicks, but I hesitated to put that in the review because I wanted the song to stand on its own and not be compared to that, especially since it’s by another group with three-part female harmony. But I think you make a lot of good, interesting points here. Thanks for sharing them!

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