Gretchen Wilson’s debut album Redneck Woman is poised to kick off a new era in country music. Part of the self-titled Muzik Mafia (along with fellow country singers Big and Rich), the young singer/songwriter from a tiny trailer park in Illinois embraces her “redneck” roots and spins it into grade A gold.
The autobiographical album sets Wilson apart from her contemporaries with its grit and power. After tooling around the Nashville scene for years and having door after door slammed in her face, the raven-haired songstress is more than ready to have her say.
Every great singer should have anthem. While it usually takes years to develop such a song and a persona to match, Gretchen Wilson gets it right off the bat with her title track “Redneck Woman”.
As she sings with pride about keeping her “Christmas lights on / on my front porch all year long” it’s nearly impossible to not give Gretchen and her fellow redneckers a big “Hell Yeah” salute! “Here For the Party” also announces that Wilson is in the house and ready to country rock or as she puts it “I’m here for the beer and the ball busting band”.
Proving that she did pick up some old-fashioned country lessons during her dues-paying stint in Nashville, Wilson sprinkles some class-sounding ballads throughout Redneck Woman. “When I think About Cheatin” is as slow and soulful as anything that Patsy Cline ever sang while “Chariot” is a slowburner with a gospel blues feel.
When Wilson sings about how “I’m gonna get me a chariot / Yeah a big gold eagle on the hood” you know she means it. In fact, she’ll probably be the one cruising past you on the highway with the pedal to the metal.
“Homewrecker” finds the spunky singer going on the defensive. Someone is going after her man and she’s not going to take it lightly.
The song has Wilson’s signature fire, but it feels a little too typical when placed with the albums other ground-breaking material. Perhaps, this is an example of paying more dues to the Nashville scene who seems to demand that every country album have this type of track.
Wilson ends her album on a high. The whole album obviously showcases bit and pieces of her life, but the last track “Pocahontas Proud” doesn’t pull any punches. From “running with the crowd” in Pocahontas, Illinois to tending bar fifteen to her refusal to be kept down by years of rejection and concluding with the birth of her own daughter at twenty-seven, Gretchen Wilson is determined to “make Pocahontas proud”.
It’s a good bet that Gretchen Wilson probably is the biggest thing to ever come from her home town. But more importantly, she’s broken through all of the supposed boundaries of country music.
Her album Redneck Woman crashed through a ceiling that many thought was concrete instead of mere glass, but nonetheless, it came crashing down in surrender to this new kid in town.
Hopefully, Wilson will continue to travel down her own road – even if that means breaking a few more of those rigid Nashville rules.
Gretchen Wilson is definitely here for the party and for the long haul!