Jax Hollow – Only The Wild Ones
On the lead single for her sophomore album, Jax Hollow describes herself as “feral.” She doubles down on the sentiment later in “Wolf in Sheepskin” with a howling “But I’m better sleeping alone!” But the true wildness on Only The Wild Ones (debuting here exclusively on Americana Highways two days before release) comes anytime Hollow straps on a guitar. No matter what she’s playing, the Nashville singer-songwriter brings a fresh, loose energy and ends up giving listeners what might be the best guitar record this year.
“Wolf in Sheepskin” kicks off the record with a clean electric sound and a stab at rugged individualism – “A dirty kingdom but it’s mine to rule right” – before blowing up into a rock song with dusty desert harmonies. “Ethereal Emerald” pairs big, chunky riffs from Hollow and Tim Galloway with Matt King’s driving drumbeat before giving way to one of Hollow’s many 80s-inspired solos (as everyone knows, the 1980s were the golden era of Big Guitar Solos).
After the blues-based hard rock of 2021’s Underdog Anthems, Only The Wild Ones finds Hollow embracing a more Americana-ish sound while also strengthening her songwriting. “Wallflower Girl In Bloom” further downshifts from rock goddess territory to a string band-ish arrangement, with Galloway trading in his axe for a banjo and featuring Serena Z on violin. Hollow’s acoustic work still drives the song about a young woman finding her way – “It’s time to tear down their notions and paint up something new” – firmly forward. And that ability to match the riffs with a good line comes up in tracks like “Stepping Stone,” an acoustic and organ-inflected tune about chasing the wrong man – “I should’ve waved my white flag, after seeing all your reds.”
There are still heaters on Only The Wild Ones: “Ride or Die” is a bluesy stomp that declares there’s nothing wrong with a little bit of infatuation – “You got the kinda frame make a woman roll over and forget her name.” And “Renegade Season” is a slow burner with a big ol’ solo. But the title track, which wraps the record, is a pretty acoustic number, laced with violin, that finds Hollow missing home for maybe the first time – “Take this worn-out town and wear it on my sleeve/They’re gonna see the part of you that lives in me.” She’s still feral, but looking at a time down the road a piece where growing roots might not be all that bad.
Song I Can’t Wait to Hear Live: “Runnin’ Like A Gypsy” – true to its title, this song moves, with Hollow’s multiple guitar parts racing Galloway’s banjo all the way to a (very speedy) end.
Only The Wild Ones was produced by Evan Frederiksen, Jae Sims and Joe Trentacosti, engineered by Frederiksen and Trentacosti and mixed by Jonathan Roye. All songs written by Jax Hollow. Additional musicians on the album include Frederiksen (keys, drums, harmony and background vocals), Sims (background vocal), Tim Galloway (electric guitar, acoustic guitar, banjo), Lex Price (bass), Matt King (drums, percussion), Serena Z (violin), Eddie Haddad (guitar), Michael Vance (guitar) and Patrick Sharrow (bass).
Go here to listen to Only The Wild Ones two days early!
(streaming everywhere May 5, CDs available May 28)
Check out tour dates here: https://www.jaxhollow.com/shows
Enjoy our previous coverage here: Song Premiere: Jax Hollow “Only The Wild Ones”