It’s been a thrill these last four years losing my aversion to twang and growing to love a genre that’s become a huge part of me. It’s baffling to think about my life prior, when nothing beyond Waylon, Willie, ‘n Cash were acceptable from this world. Nowadays it’s rare if Jason Isbell, Tyler Childers, Lilly Hiatt, or Ms. Suzanne Santo and her HoneyHoney aren’t near to ear. The wide-ranging genres of Americana and Country Western music have become this music nerd’s main squeeze – much to my delight – which leads us to today’s hot topic of discussion: the fiery and talented Jaime Wyatt.
Jaime Wyatt’s newest album, Neon Cross – produced beautifully by Shooter Jennings – is absolutely a statement album. You can hear Shooter’s fingerprints all over this record, especially on “L I V I N” (Shooter’s got a thing for spellin’ out words in songs, it would seem) and a true standout track in “Hurts So Bad.” This song feels lifted, in part, from Shooter’s recent 2018 album. But Jaime’s given space to really go to work here making it her own. It seamlessly gallops and mourns, and croons ‘n swoons. It’s a perfect country ballad, absolutely dripping in melancholy, but just as two-steppin’ as you’d ever want a damn country song to be. “Why does it hurt so bad? I lost the best I never had,” Jaime asks. Turns of phrase, yearning words, and just the right amount of steel. Wyatt and Shooter knew exactly what they were aiming for on this record, and it’s the sound of a longtime pro guiding a feisty yet grizzled newcomer to stardom.
That stardom isn’t hard to see after reading a slew of articles of praise for Wyatt and her new album since its late May release. From spending some time in jail to struttin’ ‘round Los Angeles in a cowboy hat, despite that decidedly not being a thing people in LA do, it took one spin through Neon Cross to see why she’s getting the push she so clearly deserves. Anyone who has the awareness and know-how to close out their album with a Dax friggin’ Riggs cover is somebody I want to write about after ten years out of the game.
A big reason I was so disdainful of country music most of my life is the majority of plastic voices and songs streaming on the main airwaves. There’s only so much toxic sneering about putting boots in foreigners’ asses and so many of the same glossy-ass pseudo love songs with the exact same song structure, for 20 years and counting one can take before you just put up a wall and decide it’s never coming down. That world has a way of making one’s skin crawl with its ingenuine professions and blatant pandering. Thankfully, outlaws like Wyatt have been “runnin’ her whole damn life” and “the evenin’ speaks her language” as much as it does this writer’s. The world has been as broken and on edge as maybe anyone can recall, but there are striking moments of calm and clarity that make themselves known from time to time, and they’ll often involve a two-fist special of midnight coffee and a big ole’ glass of whiskey, with Jaime Wyatt’s soulful croon emanating joy, soul, and catharsis through every fiber of my being. Neon Cross is a coming out party for a bonafide outlaw country star. She’s struttin’ halfway across town already, just waiting for ya’ll to catch up.
Fans can find Jaime Wyatt at the following locations: