Tag Archives: Gretchen Wilson

Album Review: Sons of the Palomino (self-titled)

Rating: 7/10

Before I get too in-depth about this album, I would like to talk about what Sons of the Palomino are trying to do here. With this album, the band tries to recapture an era and a feel, that of the Palomino, a club where classic country stars played during the 80s and 90s. Megan told me I should read the band’s biography before listening to the album, and though I would have liked it anyway given how country the material is, I’m glad I knew all of the information about the band’s goals going in. It helps give the album a special feel.

As for the album itself, I did not love the whole thing. There were songs that I felt were too sleepy for my taste, like “Old Roads and Lost Highways”. Then, the album had a couple songs which I did not connect to emotionally, like “Whiskey Years”. I should have liked the latter more than I did, as it tells the tale of a man looking forward to the day where he can be sober and not have to drink his pain away.

For all of the lackluster moments on this album, though, I felt a real love for the instrumentation. Even on songs I did not care for, I always loved the actual musicianship. The steel guitar, fiddle, piano…it all goes back to the days of an older style of country. It’s a style that I personally gravitate toward, so even when I was ambivalent about the actual lyrics, I always liked the instrumentation.

With all of the things I didn’t personally get into about this album out of the way, let’s talk about the good stuff. The first track, “Runnin’ Around,” is what convinced me I needed to hear what this band were selling. It’s a mid-tempo country song about a man who knows his girlfriend is cheating, and how he won’t be there when she comes looking for him. Done a million times? Sure, but this band makes it fun, and again. The instrumentation here is stellar. The next song, “Authentic,” brings in something else unique about this album. At various points, there are featured guest stars singing in parts of the song. Well, the band certainly couldn’t get more “Authentic” than John Anderson, and let me tell you. Hearing him on this track was awesome. The actual lyrics tell of being real and true to yourself, and not trying to be some fake version of country. In the days of pop country, and many people not knowing what country really is, this song is a must-listen. “Countryholic” is pretty hilarious, as the song discusses a man who just loves Waylon and Willie, steel guitar, and boots. It’s a bit cliché, but I chuckled a few times.

I liked the slower and more feeling-driven “Outta This Town”. It’s all about a man who can’t seem to leave his hometown. The planes never stop there, the train never makes a trip to the town, and he gets a woman pregnant and marries her. Thus, he’s stuck in the town. This one features Emmylou Harris on backing vocals, and I thought it made a nice change from all the faster songs. As much as I’m bored of all the drinking songs in today’s mainstream country scene, “Hole In The Wall” was an easy listen. I didn’t love it, but it was pleasant enough. The lyrics revolve around wanting to find a little bar with cold beer, a small dance floor, and a jukebox. I just liked the instrumentation, the lyrics, and everything combined to make this an enjoyable, if not completely amazing, song. My favorite emotional song is definitely “Unbroken People”. It’s all about feeling the pain of losing loved ones, but leaning on platitudes people say like “everything will be okay,” or “you’re gonna make it.”. This was the song that really resonated with me emotionally, where most of the others failed to do so. Finally, there’s “Used to be a Country Town”. I loved Gretchen Wilson’s part of the song, and it really just made me want to go listen to more of her music. The song itself is all about how they used to party in a town that used to be country. They wasted their money, but they had fun doing it.

Overall, I liked this album. The guest stars featured made it really unique. There were some I actually missed until I later went back and looked at who was featured. I did not catch Vince Gill or Jamey Johnson. The musicians did a wonderful job at bringing back the sounds of 80s and 90s country, too. I love good piano, fiddle and steel guitar, and I got all three of those in spades. Lastly, I must talk about the skills of the lead singer. Jeffrey Steele has quite the vocal range. When I was first listening to this album, I thought there were more guest stars than the site of the Sons of the Palomino alludes to. In fact, it’s just that Steele can sing in both very low and very high registers. It’s pretty awesome stuff. I think if you like the 80s and 90s era of country music, you are doing yourself a disservice by not checking this album out. The instrumentation is great, there are some really well-done songs here, and seeing names like John Anderson’s on a contemporary project like this is really cool.

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Album Review – Gretchen Wilson – Ready to Get Rowdy

Rating: 8/10

Gretchen Wilson is an artist whose singles I heard on the radio growing up. However, I don’t remember ever listening to one of her full albums. I have always liked her though, since her music tends to be faster and a little bold. What I also appreciate is how unafraid she is to be country, whether that’s in her instrumentation or her references. Sure, she may overuse the term “redneck”, but still. Anyway, when I heard that Gretchen Wilson had released a new album, I was intrigued. It’s been a while since I’ve covered a female artist, and I Was in the mood to listen to something faster and fun. Which all means that I quickly opted to check this album out. I’m quite glad I did so too, since I really like what I heard.

It starts off with a song called “Stacy”. It tells the tale of a woman who always has to be the center of attention for any man that she’s with. The funny part of the lyrics is when Gretchen Wilson says “Ain’t it so sad when girls like you make women like me look bad”. I loved the harmonica on this song. I think it is a very energetic way to open the album. Megan has reviewed the next song “Salt Mines. I won’t elaborate on it, other than to say that I fully agree with Megan’s take on the song. It’s very country both in instrumentation and in the way Gretchen Wilson sings it. The track is describing a woman who would leave her drunken slob of a husband if only the physical aspect of their relationship didn’t go so well. It’s definitely one of my favorites off of the album. I really like “Summertime Town”, too. I love how the imagery of beaches closing up and people driving away is used in the lyrics. It all represents a woman not wanting to be a man’s fling. If he’s not sticking around, she’s not interested.

“Rowdy” isn’t my favorite song on the album. It’s not bad, just not a standout. The lyrics are saying that she’s ready to get rowdy. It references her older songs “Here for the Party” and “Redneck Woman”, which makes me think she’s really saying she’s ready to be back in the music scene. I could be possibly overthinking that, though. “Whiskey and My Bible” is a slower song involving a woman who’s just trying to hold on and keep on living. She uses religion and whiskey to do these things. It’s an emotional song which is nice because it shows off Gretchen Wilson in a rare vulnerable moment, but I just can’t quite connect with it. I know it’s good, but it doesn’t really work for me emotionally. “Bad Feeling” features Kid Rock, which made me really unsure of what to expect. It turned out to be a very soulful song about too people leaving each other. She has a feeling he’s leaving, and he’s saying that nothing she does will make him stick around. I like Gretchen Wilson’s part more than Kid Rock’s, since he really sounds like he’s trying overly hard to sing in the key the song is in.

“Letting Go of Hanging On” has some really nice steel guitar and banjo. The lyrics tell of a woman who is sick of trying to hang on to her relationship. Their bond isn’t that strong anyway, so she’s done trying to make it work. I really like “I Ain’t That Desperate Yet”. She’s unwilling to change anything about herself just to make someone happy, and she refuses to settle for being with just any man. I love the message of this song, and think we could always use more songs like it. “Hard Earned Money” involves people working for a living and getting to spend the money that they make. They work way too hard for said money, but they’re just glad to have the job. In times where work isn’t always available for everyone, I definitely think the song will be relatable to a lot of people.

“Mary Kay & Maybelline” is a very emotional song, and one of my favorites. It starts off describing a woman who remembers how her mother made up her face every day, just to get by. Her father never really showed affection to her mother, and she tried to make herself feel better by hiding her sad and bloodshot eyes. Then it goes on to talk about how if love is going bad, just make up your face so you won’t look like the mess you are on the inside. This is definitely the best vulnerable moment on the whole album. “A Little Loretta” is a fun song. First of all, it references Loretta Lynn. Normally I wouldn’t claim that with such certainty, but one of Loretta Lynn’s first songs is referenced in the lyrics. It’s all about a woman who has had enough of her man going out in bars and cheating on her and now she’s “on the warpath”. It immediately made me think of Loretta Lynn’s song “Your Squaw is on the Warpath”. Of course I like this. The final track, “Big Wood Deck”, is just a fun summertime song. The lyrics tell of sitting on a big wood deck with beer in the sun, and really, who can’t resist a summertime song now when it’s as hot as it is, at least in my part of the world?

Overall, I like this album. Not all the songs are very deep, and honestly, I think I’m about overdue for a more upbeat and fun album like this. The Lyrics aren’t super-vague, and you always know what message Gretchen Wilson is trying to send. “Salt Mines” is way too underrated in my opinion, and more people should check out this album. I, myself, plan to look into Gretchen Wilson’s other music.

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Single Review: Gretchen Wilson’s “Salt Mines”

Rating: 8/10

All right, so no, I didn’t know we had new Gretchen Wilson music until yesterday when I heard it on WNIA Radio courtesy of my friend Zackary Kephart–check out his radio shows here–I guarantee you will never hear so much fiddle on country radio–, but that is what radio was meant to do all along anyway, and who knew it could still do that in 2017? And it turns out, yeah, we are evidently due for a new Gretchen Wilson album soon; this is the second of two new singles, and I’ll be honest and say I am not quite as thrilled by the first, “Rowdy,” which apparently came out in late 2016. But “Salt Mines” is a fine offering from Gretchen and reminds me why I miss hearing her music.

I forgot just how country Wilson’s voice and delivery can be, and it works well with the more traditional instrumentation. It’s the lyrics that stand out though, as Gretchen sings about going “back to the grind, another day at the salt mine” as she goes through each day married to a man who drinks, leaves his clothes all over the house, and generally doesn’t seem to care about much of anything. It’s told in a somewhat humorous light–“and you’d think I’d just quit, but you’re too good in bed”–what a line. She says she thinks about leaving all the time, but despite it all, she’s here to stay. Just a nice, solid country song. Glad she’s back and interested to see if we’ll get a whole album from her soon.

Written by: Gretchen Wilson