Victoria Bailey - Jesus, Red Wine & Patsy Cline
Rock Ridge Music
Think country music ain't what it used to be? Then you haven't heard Victoria Bailey. With sweet So-Cal drawl and confessional melodies this young lady has the ability to articulate things both moving and straightforward, which makes you realise she is a singer with an observant mind and a big heart. When I hear her, I can see her bright eyes and friendly grin. Her voice seems to say: ‘How the Hell are y’all. Sit down and have a beer or four.’ This recording is the closest you can get to knowing Victoria Bailey without meeting her in person. She is a classic country songwriter, her feet so firmly rooted in the honky-tonk you can almost hear the creak of cowboy boots on the studio floor. She purveys an archival approach, complete with all its traditional trappings and even occasional frayed edges. Supported by a studio band led by producer ‘Red’ Long (pedal steel, keyboards, guitar) alongside Eric Roebuck (lead guitar), Ian Foreman (drums, percussion), Billy Mohler (bass), Philip Glenn (fiddle, mandolin), Elijah Peters (harmonica, background vocals) and Elizabeth Chavez and Cole Sylverson (strings), Victoria Bailey has created an album that sounds exactly like a non-stop stream of songs that you might hear on a 1950s country radio station.
For the past few years Victoria Bailey has been playing the bars and honky-tonks up and down the West Coast, charming audiences with songs about one-night stands, the dangers of outlaws, cowboy lullabies and her passion for traditional country, as she draws upon western swing and honky-tonk creating a collision of old-style country music and textures that can only be described as her very own. It is a full-on country sound with lyrical abandon and strong feminist heartbreak weaved like a fine quilt, the patterns laid down by a strong and intelligent design, by Loretta, Kitty, Wanda, Tammy, Dolly and all the country women that came before. Opener Honky Tonk Woman boasts a vibe that’s vibrant and yet unhurried, easily accessible even on first encounter and hints at a smooth twirl around a packed Texas dancehall. The jaunty pacing of Skid Row and Tennessee, the forlorn Spent My Dime On White Wine and the upbeat eagerness of Homegrown Roots all attest to the fact that this young lady clearly aims for ultimate accessibility.
There’s something to be said for the effusive enthusiasm of country music stirred with sentiment, joy, heartbreak and spirituality. Indeed, that’s an initial indication of authenticity, a tack that Victoria Bailey pursues to the fullest. Her voice has a pitched-up Loretta Lynn quality, her melodies are simple like Harlan Howard’s and her tone is reminiscent of lovelorn greats like Jean Shepard and Patsy Cline. Kicking old-fashioned country music screaming and hollering into the 21st century Victoria Bailey’s debut album is hard to wrangle with but easy on the ears, leaving you to smile, scratch your head, and marvel as you ride along.