Review: Johanna Divine- Mile-High Rodeo
Mile-High Rodeo, the new album from Johanna Divine is a brilliant example of how to stay relevant in the 21st century while still keeping it old school. By combining the classic country and western sounds of her home state of Tennessee and the Cajun inflections of her adopted home of Louisiana, Divine has created a nearly-flawless album that establishes her as one of the most promising songwriters to come along in years as well as a brilliant singer.
The album kicks off with “Done ’em In,” a classic country tune in the vein of Kitty Wells and Loretta Lynn where Divine tells of a good time turned sour in a lonesome bar.
Yet the album is much more eclectic than the opening track would lead you to believe. While there are other classic-styled country numbers- most notably the Patsy Cline-influenced “Bright Side”- much of the record displays a string of other musical influences ranging from Western swing to rockabilly.
Divine’s smoky voice is equally suited to both stripped down piano and fiddle ballads like “Lone Ranger” and country-rock excursions such as “Hijacked Again” and “Used to Losin’.” Her songwriting is equally diverse, ranging from the social-minded “The Big Grab” to the bad-girl tale “Paddywagon.”
Perhaps my favorite number on the record is the charming ballad “Lulu Saint Marie,” who is “more woman than you can handle, more man than you’ll ever be.” Divine has a knack for writing the type of story song that can paint stunning pictures in your head and I would put this particular tune up against almost any song out there.
This record is one of the best releases of last year. It’s the sort of album that has something new for you every time you listen to it and that will stay in your stereo for weeks at a time. And, seeing as how this is just her debut album, I have a feeling that Johanna Divine is a name you will be hearing in roots music circles for years and decades to come.