Wynonna Judd has long been associated with her endless succession of smashes in the 80s with her mother/daughter duo, the Judds.
In that outfit, she treaded the country line and obeyed all the Nashville rules, and hit followed hit.
The last decade, though, has seen a change of fortune for this sparkling singer, both personally and musically, and her new outfit offers up the sound of a woman comfortable with her talents and place in her industry of choice, having herself a good old rave up with family and friends.
And what a selection of guests she’s invited - Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks, Jason Isbell and others - all of whom slot in with ease and not a little brilliance.
On the magnificently maudlin Things I Lean On, Isbell’s harmonies are so closely intertwined with hers, that it’s hard to believe they haven’t been doing this for years, while Something You Can’t Live Without perfectly captures that beautiful balance of sexy and righteous, particularly on its punchline, “Baby I was born to be something you can’t live without”.
Elsewhere, You Make My Heart Beat Too Fast crunches along like some swamp beast, all scraping bottlenecks, loping basslines and Judd’s monster voice equal parts swagger and danger, and Ain’t No Big Things kicks up the dirt as it flies out like the town drunk hurled out of the saloon door on a Friday night.
And while the band is so hot it nearly combusts, it’s Judd’s voice that’s punched right up in the mix, nice and loud in your ears, so that every nuance and breath wraps itself around your ears like on the richly emotive Keeps Me Alive where her only match is Derek Trucks’ hair-raisingly brittle slide work. Gripping stuff.
The performances on this album are instinctively dynamic, and that’s something you simply can’t fake. It comes from a combination of experience, talent, and an ability to work together to create something bigger than the sum of its parts.
Big music from big talent, this one’s an absolute giant that sees Wynonna Judd at her most relaxed and expressive, as if she’s simply having a ball in the knowledge that she’s got absolutely nothing to prove.
Musician, actor, singer, music reviewer, Phil’s interests cover a lot of bases and this is reflected in the music he writes about. From blues to soul, ambient to electronic, Phil writes about artists he feels are interesting, true to their craft and worthy of your ears.