Saturday, 27 October 2018

ALBUM REVIEW: Jamie Lin Wilson - Jumping Over Rocks. Self-Released (Out on October 26th 2018)

Jamie Lin Wilson was an artist recommended to me a few years ago. The subsequent period has seen her occasionally flicker on my horizon with only a 2015 album release to follow up the original 2010 Dirty Blonde Hair EP. However, 2018 is set to be a major landmark for this Texas singer-songwriter based south of San Antonio. The good fortune of obtaining an advance copy of JUMPING OVER ROCKS set the pulse racing with countless early plays that tagged this album as one of the year’s forerunners in the authentic country stakes. As the album is now out for all to enjoy, the time is ripe to share the love for a record spiralling deep into the ethos of this blog’s title.

JUMPING OVER ROCKS has its name drawn from a lyric in the mid-album story track ‘Death & Life’ and evolves into an eleven-song collection of primarily original numbers. The exception is a nodding tribute to the late great Guy Clark via a version of ‘Instant Coffee Blues’ in tandem with fellow Texan Jack Ingram as her duet partner. It is fitting that Clark has some presence on the album because Wilson is one of many artists stoking the fire of articulate song writing and fully embracing the sweet spot where country meets folk. The last analogy had its origin in the press release, proving that occasionally, publicist hyperbole warrants.

Jack Ingram also features on the first track in the co-writing role. ‘Faithful and True’ is a stunning emotive ballad, which exudes an enormous amount of strength straight from the off. Wilson’s voice really gets into the aching groove from the subsequent track ‘The Being Gone’. Here the Texas reference ventures north to Dallas in the lyrics and cements a ‘Lone Star’ rhetoric that begins with the album recorded in Austin.

Despite the paucity of solo releases, Jamie Lin Wilson is an experienced operator on the Texas music scene. There is no rookie naivety on the album, just the work of a seasoned professional, upholding the constitution rather than acting as a revolutionary. There is nothing wrong with that stance especially when eleven tracks to salivate over emerge.

Making substantial cases for the stand out moments are two tracks with serious connotations. Wilson teams up with Turnpike Troubadours frontman Evan Felker for the rousing ‘Oklahoma Stars’ to bring a slice of quality country music c/o west of the Mississippi. At the album’s conclusion, the style drifts heavily into Brandy Clark territory with the character led ‘Alice’ reminiscent of the great storytelling songs that launched her associate into the upper realms of country music. Whether a similar path follows for Jamie Lin Wilson is probably unlikely, but she knows her niche and plenty of adorable praise will still pour in from astute critics.

There is a tidy mix of stompers and smoochers across the album. ‘Run’ is pure country gold and rattles along with a tempo to keep the boots shuffling. At the other end of the scale, ‘Everybody’s Moving Slow' is your archetypal tender slow dancer and hits the heartfelt spot amicably. The ubiquitous steel maintains a steady upbeat feel to ‘Eyes for You’, while ‘If I Told You’ stoically flies the flag for the more emotive temperate numbers. The stark message that eases out of ‘In a Wink’ is that some much of this album has a stand-alone appeal making it very easy to syphon any one of the tracks for radio play.

The authenticity and real deal nature of JUMPING OVER ROCKS makes it an album to celebrate as much as one to deliver endless listens. Good music travels over the wires easily today, so if Jamie Lin Wilson had a desire to make a European trip, then plenty of fans would embrace her. Enjoying this cracking record makes having faith in that early recommendation handsomely pay off, with or without the live dates.

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