“Felony Blues” Showcases Outlaw Country, And So Much More
Outlaw country contains rebellious lyrics that critique and upend pop country’s cookie-cutter approach to hit songs. SiriusXM has a station dedicated to the genre which it defines as “country with an edge.” Outlaw country traces its roots to country greats like Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, and David Allen Coe, among others. Those artists broke a mold and captivated an era. For many us, the old greats are in our DNA, and singers like Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton, Jamey Johnson, among others, bring a fresh yet historic flavor to Nashville.
Enter Jaime Wyatt. Wyatt spent eight months in jail for robbing a drug dealer after she developed a drug addiction. While in jail, Wyatt avoided trouble by “singing songs for people and making the laugh,” she recalls. Wyatt’s luck changed after her release when a friend gifted her a free studio session where she recorded an EP. Forty Below Records head Eric Corne listened to the album and quickly recognized Wyatt’s talent. He helped her remix the album to create Felony Blues, due to be released on February 24.
Felony Blues contains ballads from Wyatt’s time in prison, as well as stories that discuss the challenges of a traveling, broke musician. In the song “Wasco” Wyatt describes a cellmate’s love affair with another prisoner in a different jail whom she had never met. “Stone Hotel” describes Wyatt’s experience being sentenced by a judge and how life seemed to stand still behind the “big white walls.” Her lyrics creatively describe uncomfortable situations, but do so in a confident way that does not express regret or sadness.
Wyatt’s real strength, however, isn’t her lyrics. She has a voice that can take over a room. Her vocals could be described as a potent blend of Margo Price, Nikki Lane, and Jamie Lin Wilson. Listen to her once and you’ll be hooked. She produces a light twang undertone that is punctuated by quick changes in pitch and a delightful rebellious spirit.
Wyatt can also seamlessly transition to slower songs like “Giving Back the Best of Me,” a track which displays her extraordinary range of vocal talent. On “Giving Back the Best of Me,” her voice sounds more like Sarah Jarosz than a country singer. She sings in this style effortlessly and captivates the listener with beautiful vocals and powerful lyrics. Rarely can a country singer move back and forth between genres in the way that Wyatt does.
Wyatt’s album showcases a new tour de force in female country music. Threads of folk and outlaw country combine to produce what will surely be one of the best new country albums of the year. Purchase this album and enjoy listening to a rising talent that will grace listeners with lovely songs for years to come.