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Album Review: Jaime Wyatt–Felony Blues

Rating: 7.5/10

Jaime Wyatt’s debut effort comes to us from a place of authenticity few artists can really claim; she was convicted of robbing her drug dealer and subsequently served time in prison. Upon her release, the hardship and stigma that came with her past eventually led her to country music. I could go into more detail, but I feel like I should keep my focus as much on Wyatt’s music as possible. Still, it is worth noting because the album’s title rings true in a way that much of today’s music doesn’t, and the raw honesty that comes with life experience like this can serve music well, and certainly does in Jaime Wyatt’s case.

This is an interesting album to discuss, as it isn’t really quite an EP or an album. At seven songs and thirty minutes, it lies somewhere between the two. The rating may be slightly misleading because there are some really fantastic songs and some really average songs. So in order to better serve Jaime Wyatt and the potential shown in several places on this record, I will discuss the high and low points rather than going through the album track by track.

A definite high point on this record is the instrumentation. The opener, “Wishing Well,” immediately captured my attention with its driving production. From the opening line, “I wanna wake up somewhere where you don’t have to lose,” I was drawn to the raw quality in Jaime’s voice. This is the kind of song she really excels at, and I’d like to see more like it from her in the future. Lovers of fiddle and steel should check out “Wasco,” arguably the album’s best track. The narrator in this song is in love with an inmate and dreams of graduating high school and going to be with him, singing, “ain’t nobody gonna tell me who to love.” Songs like this and “Stone Hotel” directly speak to Wyatt’s past and give an authentic feel to the album. “Stone Hotel” especially seems autobiographical, telling the story of an inmate looking back on her conviction and forward to the day when she gets out of prison and can try to live a different life. Another song that stood out for me after a couple listens is the easygoing “Your Loving Saves Me.” “Hard as concrete, soft as gravy, Jesus is cool, but your loving saves me.” Once again, the production and instrumentation really fit the song well.

“From Outer Space” is one of the lower points of the album. I have listened to it several times, and it just doesn’t connect with me like some of the other songs. Jaime Wyatt’s voice really elevates the acoustic “Giving Back the Best of Me” and the cover of Merle Haggard’s classic heartbreak song “Misery and Gin,” but these songs don’t stand out like the more upbeat, rocking material. They are still really solid tracks, but I find myself coming back to “Wishing Well” and “Wasco” more than anything else because the personality and potential of Jaime Wyatt is clearest on these songs.

Overall, this is a pretty solid album. The highlights are the more upbeat tracks, especially “Wishing “well” and “Wasco.” The production works well with each song, and there are some nice lyrical moments as well. But more than anything on the album itself, this debut shows the potential of Jaime Wyatt. This won’t necessarily blow you away, but it shows promise, and Jaime Wyatt is a name you should keep an eye on.

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