Musical boundaries need to be pushed. As much as I enjoyed the great old stuff featured at the beginning of PBS’s Country Music, the true fascination was watching the music evolve and change as new storytellers emerged. Now, with all of the digital tools we have, virtually any kind of sound can be created, but true artists will find a direction to match that sonic palette. California-based Aubrie Sellers has termed her style “garage country,” and on her second album, Far From Home, she pushes that sound far beyond her debut’s grunginess into something like a dusty cowboy future.
The album starts with the title cut, a somewhat slower tune, which is a trend I’ve noticed over the past few years (think Jason Isbell’s “Cover Me Up” or Chris Stapleton’s “Millionaire”). It does set a tone for the record, though, with lots of keys, reverb on the vocals and a building up as the track progresses. The overall sound expands as Sellers is “travelin’ through this wild land/Always searching all alone.” Lyrically, too, the songs sets up the rest of the album with themes of anxiety and searching for comfort in the familiar: “Ain’t it hard to find a friend/When you’re out there wanderin’.”
The record truly kicks into gear with the second track, “My Love Will Not Change.” With the help of co-producer Frank Liddell, Sellers and guest vocalist Steve Earle turn the bluegrass tune (from Shawn Camp and Billy Burnette) into a gritty, thumping back-and-forth – “I turned you loose, honey, I let you fly” counters “They won’t do ya like I did for you.” Capped off with a good, grimy guitar solo, the cut is a great, angry stomp of a listen – some of the best fun you’ll have this year.
The sonic “bigness” spans most of the abum. “Lucky Charm” has a swirly, cosmic sound. “Worried Mind” sports what I’d term sci-fi, western guitar (the album features four guitar players) while helping Sellers explore and explain her own dealings with anxiety – “If you don’t think ignorance is bliss/Then you don’t know a thing about this.” And “Troublemaker” has a long rev-up and a sonic breakdown at the end – fitting, as Iain Archer, formerly of Snow Patrol, is the song’s co-writer. The song also features the clever line “I’ll be the truck and you be the wall,” a refreshingly different use for a pick-up in a country tune.
Beyond the sonic overload, Far From Home’s best song is Sellers’ only solo write on the album. “Haven’t Even Kissed Me Yet” is the type of sweet-but-a-little-sad country song that Lee Ann Womack specialized in. Sellers’ voice is a slightly brawnier version of her mom’s, and the song has an expansive feel, but there’s still some old-school country to match the lyrics detailing something so good, you don’t want to mess it up before it can even begin: “Sometimes the sweetest words can really start to hurt when you/Can’t even tell what they mean.” And the album ends with a final evolution – “One Town’s Trash” deals with Sellers’ move from Nashville to L.A., leaving little doubt as to why: “These old streets are behind the times/You’d think distinction was a crime.” As she pulls out of town seeking greater treasure, a guitar solo and musical coda follow her, sonically adventurous until the end.
Far From Home was co-produced by Sellers and Liddell, recorded by Eric Masse, mixed by Greg Strizek and mastered by Stephen Marcussen. Additional songwriters include Park Chisholm, Adam Wright, Shannon Wright, Angelo Petraglia, Ethan Ballinger and Brendan Benson. Additional musicians include Glenn Worf (bass), Fred Eltringham (drums and percussion), Chris Coleman (electric guitar, steel guitar and percussion), Adam Wright (electric guitar), Ethan Ballinger (electric guitar, synth, and keys), Park Chisholm (electric guitar) and Coleman, Ballinger, Chisholm, Eltringham, Dylan Leblanc, Shannon Wright and Adam Wright (background vocals).
You can order Far From Home here: https://stores.portmerch.com/aubriesellers/
Check out Aubrie Sellers tour dates here: https://home.aubriesellers.com/