Two reviews of two albums by two new voices on the country scene–and they’re both very different. First, Sayin’ What I’m Thinkin’ by Lainey Wilson, her first album on a label, sits on that three legged stool of country/pop/rock. but it’s mostly country. Then largely pop. And then just a smattering of rock–enough that it’s not hard to imagine the song as sung by Bad Company or Tom Petty. When I think of pop-country, I immediately think of Maren Morris. And that’s not a fair comparison here. Wilson doesn’t have the same sense of youth, urgency, or, frankly, power. Instead, she goes for a taste of wistfulness–less playful and more confessional. It’s a good album, made better by the obvious power of singles like the title track and “Things a Man Oughta Know” (which is a truly GREAT single), and some strong guitar work on songs like the albums other single, “Small Town, Girl.” It’s also a good album that’s somewhat weakened by more cliche songs like WWDD (“What Would Dolly (Parton) Do”) and her ode to Los Angeles, LA.
Now let’s move to Hannah Juanita’s debut, “Hardliner.” Of the two, it’s more traditional–and better written. Songs like “Call Yourself My Man” and “I’m Gonna Leave You,” among many others, have the honky tonk sound and the chicka-boom beat, tell of love and loss, and are just overall very well-written songs. She even throws in a “hee-haw” here and there.
I’m really hoping we get a lot more of her in the future. She’s one to watch.
Both albums have really, really good drinking-to-forget songs. Lainey talks about Keeping the Bars Open, telling stories about all the folks in a local watering hole. It’s a song that feels like home immediately. And Hannah Juanita offers “Time To Say Goodbye,” telling us that when she starts drinking every night, the relationship is over.
A very nice pair of songs from two really good records.