Album Review: Erin Enderlin – Faulkner County

Erin Enderlin’s last album Whiskeytown Crier was a richly realised collection of classic country songwriting. Her follow up Faulkner County, continues in the same vein, full of achingly beautiful stories and songwriting that speaks to the heart.

From the opening sorrowful strings of I Could Be Your Whiskey this album just felt like home to me. That’s appropriate since ‘Faulkner County’ is the place where she grew up and these songs are rooted in the music of her childhood listening to country.

On Whatever Gets You Through The Night Erin sings about finding that vice to make you feel less lonely, to survive in this damn harsh world. For me, and others I imagine, that is music. Thank god we have excellent albums like this to help us endure everything that life throws at us.

Traditional country music songwriting was built on telling stories of real life and The Queen of Marina Del Rey follows in those footsteps . The lyrics actually reference Elton John and she uses that influence in her sound too – after all he is an artist with a deep love and understanding of roots music.

Violinist Jenee Fleenor is the first woman to be nominated for a CMA for Musician of the Year and she deserves that award for her work on this album alone. On Use Me Again the fiddle just makes the song soar.

Broken and Hell Comin’ Down are heartbreakers that go to some dark places, but sound heavenly. A Man With 18 Wheels is a nice change of tempo, adding that classic rock element to her sound which feels like a natural fit.

This is a songwriters album, reminding me of Brandy Clark and Lori McKenna. Sure at times the genre cliches can seem a little obvious like on Hometown Jersey but when they sound this true then you’re happy to hear them again and again. In fact that song reduced me to tears, even though I predicted the end and knew what was coming it still got me in the gut.

My only other criticism of this kind of songwriting style is that I just find myself hoping for a few more personal stories, like Dolly and Loretta would have sung. Therefore These Boots is a welcome moment where she lets us into her own life and tells the story of working in the industry, stepping into the Opry circle and how much it means to her.

A cover of Dolly’s Old Flames is sung with the kind of reverential love for classic country that is woven through all of these songs. Then she offers us a song for another legend, this one a cover of Sweet Emmylou – the sad melodies comfort her and she needs them. Hell, we all do.

You can’t outrun your pain or escape from life’s heartbreaks – the best songwriters understand that. Luckily for us we can add Erin Enderlin and Faulkner County to the list of music that can help soothe our troubled souls.

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