Outlaw country star Jaime Wyatt is dragging the tracks and iconography of old, kicking and screaming, into the modern day. It is a bold task, a difficult one too, but the contemporary folk dedication from Wyatt on new record Feel Good is admirable. At play here is a need to keep the soul of this genre alive, and with an unexpected vocal range from the World Worth Keeping singer, there is much to fall for throughout. Feel Good is a piece full of surprises. Go in expecting nothing, and come out with the thrills and chills of the 1960s, all pushed to the forefront of modern country. It builds as well as the best of them and carries on from there.
Calming tracks from the heart of modern country are rare to come by. Jelly Roll sort of kicked the heads of any sane individual far away from returning to country. The bridge must be repaired after it was burned down so recently. Feel Good goes a long way in tending to the relationship, the mending of audience and auteur. Glittery twinkles over the final letter of Wyatt’s name on the front cover are a revival of the glitz and glam country records once had. It is the strange shlock of the genre, which was seemingly left behind, revived now and in a strong place. Titular track Feel Good, and the rest to follow, are not game changers but are strong enough to make a firm impact. Static on Back To The Country hits a simpler nerve, the change of pace to follow is a thankfully temporary one.
We are back on track with Love Is a Place, and Wyatt’s work blends the line of safe and knowingly comfortable. There is no trouble with this, the likes of country music which feels secure and intimate with likeable instrumentals and a strong voice worth listening to is few and far between. It is hard, sometimes, to escape the feel-good soundtrack momentum Wyatt has with her work, but likeable numbers Hold Me One Last Time and Where The Damned Only Go provides a smooth double bill. The first holds a guitar solo and scattered backing vocal which will rip only the best of feelings from your heart, the second an indication of what will revive the country genre – new ideas. Slick guitar work is a real ear-tickler, a sudden and momentum-changing moment. The more Feel Good rumbles on, the more it features these moments. The wah guitar features of Althea are unexpected and appreciated.
Where Fugitive may take a plainer tone, it is all part of the structure of traditional country. Rewarding and interesting in equal measure, Wyatt is pushing forward and giving the genre a chance. Few are doing so now, so to hear Feel Good tower over as well as it does is a warm and assured feeling. There are of course those lacking tracks, the simplicity of Jukebox Holiday is entirely reliant on the instrumentals surrounding it. But Wyatt has a strong voice and makes good on material which, in other hands, would be a dull traipse through what is left of country. Flickers of hope can be found within this piece.