REVIEW: Skylar Gregg’s “Roses” is Country-Girl Down Home Sincerity


Skylar Gregg – Roses

Working out of Nashville country traditionalist Skylar Gregg created an LP out of her own stories about addiction, morality & abuse through an honest 10-year journey through her life. Skylar’s not from the cookie-cutter pop-oriented country singer establishment.

Her rich vocal twang (at times) has authenticity. The horns are Muscle Shoals thick & though her Nashville leanings don’t disarm her originality – she adds touches, sarcastic vocal inflections, & has more in common with Bobbie Gentry & Reba McIntyre (“Southern Strain,” “Landfill”) than Taylor Swift or Shania Twain.

The lead-off “Long Way Back,” has muscle that would perk up a country boy’s ears. You can smell the diesel in her arrangements, the humidity in her wise-ass phrasings & everything’s tightened by her country-girl downhome sincerity. She’ll knock you on your ass if you mess with her dog.

“Roses,” — the title track with its ebullient wild nature vocal fills the tune with reality & lots of thick raw syrup – not sugar, thick raw syrup. A sawing Liz Estes fiddle, Spencer Cullum Jr pedal steel & piano support Skylar’s potent vocals have a George Jones feel to it. She cuts it: “…too much shit to do before I die.” Ain’t that the truth?

The 11-track 40-minute Independent was produced by John Estes (keys/organ/guitars/horn arrangements) who worked with Dolly Parton.  The music drops Aug. 14th & it’s a digital-only release. No vinyl/CD for now.

Ms. Gregg is old-school but not retro. She has the dynamics of traditional instrumentation & her twangy rich expressive storytelling voice is front & center. She skims the attractive commercial styles of Skeeter Davis, Sandy Posey, Jody Miller & on “Have You Ever Tried to Lose Your Mind,” she’s in Nanci Griffith territory.

More soulful is “Everything Is Going to Be Fine.” An easily interpreted tune for a soul singer. Not as southern accented, but with the help of the horns Skylar grooves out with her tone & effective phrasing. She holds her notes with durability & the punctuating horns — soul finger cool.

With “40 East & 40 West,” Skylar morphs into Reba/Paulette Carlson vocal tradition. No easy feat. One of the best cuts. “I Already Know,” is a rocker. Nice thick aggressive sound. Her voice pulsates. Guitar interplay could’ve been more pronounced. While she’s not as vocally coarse – Skylar rocks as hard as Kim Carnes-Bonnie Tyler.

The band: Heather Moulder (keys/organ), Joel Gage, Colin Poulton, Joey Fletcher (guitars), Matt Heller & Taylor Powell (drums), Taylor Lonardo (bass), David Williford (sax), Leif Shires (trumpet), Spencer Cullum Jr (pedal steel), Liz Estes (fiddle). Background vocals: Heather Moulder, Skylar, Kimberly, Nicky, Paul & Danny Gregg.

The set is solid. Reinforced by fine musicians. “Drunk in Nashville” has the same catchy attraction as Kellie Pickler’s “Red High Heels.” Wonderful melody & story.

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