Country trio Runaway June are comprised of Naomi Cooke on lead vocals and guitar; Hannah Mulholland on vocals and mandolin and Jennifer Wayne on vocals and guitar. The girls have become the first all female trio to gain two country top 40 hits in a decade and their new album Blue Roses is released in the same month as their name – a fitting choice for a light and fun summer album of sweet country pop.
Opener Head Over Heels is a fresh and feisty break up song about getting over someone – a kind of New Rules for the country genre. Then we have their hit Buy Your Own Drinks, which brings some Miranda Lambert level of sass to the album. It’s a great song, an independent women drinking anthem which has even done well at country radio – a miracle in this day and age.
We Were Rich is a lovely moment, showing a more vulnerable side to the group. The song is drenched in the nostalgia of childhood, telling stories of growing up poor but happy. This is one of the few songs on the album not written by the band but they sell it like it’s their own story. Maybe a rootsier production style would have silenced the genre purists but it’s engaging nevertheless.
Got Me Where I Want You shows off their beautiful harmonies. Trouble With This Town enlists songwriting help from Liz Rose, and the results are catchy and reminiscent of Carrie Underwood, who the band have been supporting on tour recently.
The choice to cover Dwight Yoakam’s Fast As You should be applauded, showing these girls care about honouring the greats of country genre. In their hands it’s a sassy slice of fun, with some sweet banjo making it one of the most enjoyable moments on the album.
Blue Roses is a classic country ballad, a wistful moment of sadness to finish the album using the central flower metaphor to lovely effect. Dolly herself would be proud to sing this one.
My only concern for Runaway June is that we are working in a social media age where personality helps to sell the music so when you’re a group it is harder for your audience to get to connect with you individually. Compared to groups like Pistol Annies, I’m With Her and The Highwoman who were known personalities first, you feel Runaway June are playing catch up a little. Still with the return of the Dixie Chicks imminent maybe the time for the revival of great country girl groups is now.
Blue Roses is an enjoyable debut album and there there is much potential here. I hope that country music gives this band enough attention to allow them to gain success they deserve.