Coco Reilly is a perfectionist, but there is more to the story. The four-year-long road to releasing her debut, self-titled album found her not only trying to nail the exact sonics she wanted, but also battling with record label wishy-washiness and relocating multiple times — to California, to Nashville, to Iceland (not in that order). Recorded three different times, Coco Reilly is the result of a lengthy journey toward truth, and toward Reilly’s uncompromising vision for what she wanted to release into the universe. And the wait was worth it.
Backed up by a solid crew of Nashville mainstays like Dom Billett, Jerry Bernhardt, and Ian Ferguson, with harmony vocals from the equally angelic-voiced Erin Rae, Reilly gives us a fully realized collection of country music, psych-rock, and dreamy pastoral instrumental pop tunes. The arrangements swagger and lilt, swirl and drip in a supremely lo-fi concoction that fills every inch of space. There is a quiet power in Reilly’s voice, which glides woozily alongside a pedal steel guitar on standout “Suited,” a song about the way falling in love can knock the wind out of you. “I must admit that / for the first time / I’ve been taken / I’ve been shaken to my core,” she sings. In the breathy beauty “Define You,” Reilly sings about an unburdened love and the importance of flourishing as an individual, even in a partnership. On the hazy groove “Light,” Reilly laments the bittersweet contrast between the before and after of finding a lover as the guitar slinks upward toward a slow build.
It is the bookends of the album that really get at the core of Reilly’s quest, though. The fuzzy opener “The Truth Will Always Find a Way” is a down-tempo, foot-stomping anthem about confronting your demons, no matter how hard you may have tried to avoid them. And the shimmery “Be True” finds her wising up to what life is really all about: being true to yourself before you can be true to others. Romantic wind instruments kick up in the background as Reilly repeats her mantra, to a lover perhaps, but most importantly to herself.