BIG. I contemplated a clever, witty opening sentence for about a trillion hours until I accepted the fact that I have writers block and decided to just call this album as it is. Big.
Strong and soulful, Gin Wigmore opens her second studio album, Gravel & Wine, with a track that gives a big old middle finger to the norm. “Everybody’s doing it so why the hell should I”, she croons with the air of a younger, angrier Bobbie Gentry. Black Sheep does a brilliant job of introducing the album, containing catchy hooks and a strong, lyrical catalogue similar to that which launched her previous release, Holy Smokes, into the eardrums of thousands internationally. Whilst these similarities are apparent, there is no denying that Gin has flourished musically and personally as confidence and sass drips from every damn word she utters.
The months spent in USA’s deep south obviously did our girl good, resulting in 11 tracks that absolutely resonate an ardent, emotive twang. The honky-tonk of a saloon piano sprinkled throughout picks up the lively, country sound that is oh-so-America. However, balance is found in a dark, dank heartiness provided by seductive bass lines and robust gang vocals, most impacting in Kill of the Night, a track that is all bad-ass.
Another standout would definitely have to be Sweet Hell, a charming, sharp-tongued duet containing undertones of Edward Sharpe and a fantastic burst of brass fanfares. The galloping beat and sweeping melodies are just too delicious; it’s impossible not to have a hog-killin’ time with this one, as is the case with Man Like That – with its terribly dance-worthy beats and growling, bitter sentiment. Gin has undoubtedly delivered the expected amount of cunning insanity, but be assured that you will not be left wanting for a heartbreaking ballad.
Saturday Smile is such a wonderful example of Gin’s ability to summon tears. “I think it’s love”, she teases over a weeping string section and delicate piano. Happy Ever After is my pick of the ‘ballads’, though it is more than that. Starting with a wistful, yet uptempo arrangement carried by throaty choir vocals and a beat that wont quit, Wigmore details her experience in a broken relationship and the disappointment of discovering that her “Happy ever after wasn’t you”. It’s a track worth listening to a hundred times over; every time a new element is discovered, a new dynamic heard. This could really be used as an analogy for the entire album.
Gravel & Wine was far from my favourite thing upon first listening. I mentioned in the beginning that this album is BIG, and it is, in every way. Perhaps this fact was overwhelming at the get-go, but after several more listens and a cup of joe, I am in love. It is hard to argue that Gin has an enormous character and I believe that may be what makes this over-the-top, melodramatic release as wonderful as it is. I hope your dancing boots and Kleenex are close by; as for me, I think I’ll have another Gin.
Gin Wirmore’s new album Gravel and Wine will be released this Friday April 13th