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.