Sayin’ What I’m Thinkin’
BMG/BBR Music Group
Good Time Friday Night Southern Country Music
Louisiana native Lainey Wilson’s broad Southern Twang is the clearest take from the opening thumping rocky track of this new studio album, Neon Diamond.
Therein lies the essential core to how you’re probably going to respond to this – on the one hand, there’s an edgy vocal “authenticity” (whatever that is) that will appeal to some, but to some others it might (unfortunately) not fit their comfortable radio-friendly world-view, especially in non-US territories.
Style-wise, it’s further Southern Boogie on second track “Sunday best” – pure Roadhouse music to its core.
“Things a Man Oughta Know” nudges things down a few notches with some nicely picked rhythm mandolin in its straightforward challenging of gender stereotypes.
Next up. “Small Town, Girl” is a funky Blues shuffle through parochialism in an idealised America.
Oddly, things take a Euro-disco turn on the very radio friendly “LA,” which will likely appeal to the Nashville bachelorette crowd as they drive down Broadway in those open-sided party buses.
“Dirty Looks” takes a more reflective turn and style-wise would have fitted nicely on Taylor Swift’s eponymous first album, before it’s back to the singalong choruses of “Pipe;” which features idiolectic grammar and the best use of “Y’all” you’re likely to hear this year.
Lyrically it’s somewhat tongue-in-cheek and this cartoonish approach suits the good time feel of the song.
“Keeping Bars in Business” takes a more serious tack, although its observation that the shittiness and rollercoaster emotions of life is good news for the brewery industry, might not find approval in all quarters!
“Straight Up Sideways” boogies its way towards a more hedonistic carpe diem approach to the imbibing of alcohol, although she sings, “there’s more than one way to get straight up sideways” – other forms of inebriation are clearly available.
The acronym titled “WWDD” – “What Would Dolly Do?” is not actually very Parton-esque in musical style, favouring a mid-tempo almost Glitter Band kick drum rhythm; but offers a fair enough way of dealing with life’s issues.
Things change again with a return to mandolin on “Rolling Stone” and the more acoustic rootsy sound makes a good vehicle for Wilson’s voice and also features some lovely twangy Calexicoesque guitar on the fade.
The album ends on the title track Sayin’ What I’m Thinkin,’ with its gentle brushed train beat, taking things to a more confessional conclusion.
Sitting here in a semi-detached house in Stoke-on-Trent writing this review, Lainey Wilson’s life experience could hardly be further away from my own; and of her targets demographic; so at times that gulf is a bit much for me to leap, but there’s a lot to enjoy in the humour, vocal timbre and philosophical hedonism on display in this showcase album.
Review by Nick Barber
Released 19th February 2021
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