Brit Taylor’s highly anticipated sophomore album ‘Kentucky Blue’ is a drive down the famed Country Music Highway (Route 23) back to her Appalachian roots. Grammy-winners Sturgill Simpson and renowned engineer and producer David Ferguson caught wind of the Kentucky gem after her self-reflective debut album ‘Real Me’ garnered praise from the likes of Rolling Stone Magazine.
The two legends didn’t hesitate to jump in and get their hands dirty, producing the next musical chapter of Brit’s life story. The album is to be released on Brit’s own Cut A Shine Records label in collaboration with Thirty Tigers on February 3.
‘Kentucky Blue’ is a heady mix of Appalachian twang, Patsy Cline’s tears and strong, resilient female empowerment. Opening track ‘Cabin in the Woods’ sets the tone from the get-go. It’s a fiddle and banjo-driven song about getting away from it all. Lush production and Brit’s rich vocals dominate as she sings, ‘The only thing missing is a little company….if you’re ever in the mood or in the neighbourhood, drop by my cabin in the woods.’
Similar, toe-tapping, dance hall vibes can be found on tracks like ‘If You Don’t Wanna Love Me’ and ‘Ain’t a Hard Livin’. The former, co-written with Taylor’s husband, Adam Chaffins, has more than a feel of 90’s Shania or Faith Hill at its funky, feisty heart. An organ provides a little New Orleans blues and, not for the only time on ‘Kentucky Blue’, Taylor’s lyrics encourage women everywhere to be good to themselves and respect who they are. ‘Ain’t a Hard Livin’, meanwhile, is a real wood floor, uptempo, fiddle-driven love song that contains some cracking honky tonk piano too.
Taylor isn’t afraid to let rip on ‘Kentucky Blue’. The double whammy of ‘Rich Little Girls’ and ‘No Cowboys’ sees her take aim at entitled elites and fake posers. ‘Rich Little Girls’, co-written by one of our favourite artists, Kimberly Kelly, is a scathing diss-track about legacy kids and nepo babies! It builds to a really melodic, blue collar chorus augmented by a whole ton of fiddles. ‘The only days off,’ Taylor sings, ‘I’m gonna get is when I get to heaven.’
‘No Cowboys’, meanwhile, replete with its plaintive guitars and accordion, gives off real border town vibes. It’s the kind of sister song, or maybe that should be brother song, to ‘Rich Little Girls’ as Kelly has men firmly in her sights here. Posers, fakes and men who are ‘desperate to be desperados’. You know the type, they’ve watched a couple of episodes of Yellowstone and think they can dress like Rip and the rest of the Dutton ranch hands.
No album birthed in the mountains of East Kentucky is complete without a number of ballads and heartbreak songs. This is where the Patsy Cline influence looms large across ‘Kentucky Blue’. You knew from the title track that it would be ‘one of those songs’, right? ‘Kentucky Blue’ (also co-written with Kimberly Kelly) is heartbreaking, plaintive ballad of the highest quality. ‘I’ve been Texas tired, I’ve been New York wired and I’ve been Louisiana lonesome too,’ Taylor sings as she builds to an inevitable chorus about loss and regret.
On ‘Love’s Never Been That Good to Me’ previous heartbreaks have made Taylor insecure and wary of committing again. It’s a gorgeous ballad with some wonderful piano. It gives off real ‘late night, hotel bar’ feels that suit Taylor’s vocals to a tee whilst on ‘Best We Can Do’, Taylor comes across like a young Trisha Yearwood on an Appalachian vacation as she circles back around to being strong and resilient again.
Special mention must be given to ‘For a Night’, which would be the song I’d be leading with to the media and radio from this intriguing and classy album. It’s a bit of an outlier, a Black Swan, perhaps? The uptempo, retro disco vibes sound like something the Bee Gees might have recorded if they had come from Texas or Kentucky! The song builds to one of the strongest choruses on the album, with the instrumentation popping off all over the place, making ‘For a Night’ ballsy, bombastic and full of joy. It would be a perfect gateway to the rest of Taylor’s music.
‘Kentucky Blue’ shines brightly in the Appalachian gloom. There’s a real duality at its core. A heady mix of old and new. Lyrics that tell tales of strength and heartbreak, resilience and loss. Taylor has no time for posers and fakes or for anyone that isn’t there for her but she’ll give you everything she has if you are. Fiddles, piano, organ, banjo and steel guitars all combine to provide the lush backdrop to an album that reeks of class. With these songs Taylor can venture out into the big markets of the south with some confidence as she builds her reputation out in clubs, halls and theatres in the months and years to come.
Tracklist: 1.Cabin in the Woods 2.Anything but You 3.Kentucky Blue 4.Rich Little Girls 5.No Cowboys 6.If You Don’t Wanna Love Me 7.Ain’t a Hard Livin’ 8.Love’s Never Been That Good to Me 10.Best We Can Do Record Label: Cut a Shine Records / Thirty Tigers Release Date: February 3rd Buy ‘Kentucky Blue’ right now