With her twangy voice and tattoos, Elle King fits perfectly into a particular type of country music: the rock and roll inspired style perfected by Miranda Lambert and taken up by Ashley McBryde in most recent years. Having made her name with a catchy pop song or two, Elle made successful guest appearances on mainstream country songs and has now made the full leap over to the genre with this recent album ‘Come Get Your Wife’.
Considering the difficult landscape for women in country music you wonder about the logic to this move. But then again pop music can’t exactly be easy either for young women either. At least in country you can express yourself and your flaws in a relatable way, play rock and roll inspired pop music and no-one expects you to be perfect or have some kind of choreographed dance routine for TikTok.
Elle’s version of a Tyler Childers song, ‘Jersey Giant’ showed she has the grit and the guts in her voice, to sell country music. There’s something of the fighter in both Childers and King, a tough exterior that unites them both. Other songs in this traditional style like ‘Crawlin’ Mood’ and ‘Bonafide’ really suit her voice too.
The mix of rock, pop and soul influences across the rest of the album do suggest that she’s hedging her bets still somewhat. The poppier songs like ‘Drunk (and Don’t Want to Go Home)’ and ‘Worth A Shot’ are enjoyable and clearly made for more mainstream country stations. ‘Try Jesus’ is pretty silly but all of these songs at least make her sound like the kind of riot you want to go out drinking with.
The heart and soul of the album is the song ‘Lucky’ written for her son, and acknowledging how all her ‘wrong turns’ have led her to a beautiful ending, one she admits she doesn’t even deserve. There’s something perfect about the balance she has achieved on this song – halfway between a modern country and pop song while still having the personal, honest heart of a real rock and roll singer. I’m reduced to tears every time I hear it.
Final song ‘Love Go By’ is another stand out, sung with the raspy voice of someone who’s loved and lived life to the fullest.
I’m always searching for this kind of record, one which doesn’t take it self too seriously, is fun to listen to and yet has a little bit of grit under its nails too. Welcome to the genre Elle – on this evidence she should stick around.
Very much enjoyed listening to this album absolutely my preferred flavour of country. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.
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