If you are anything like me, you didn’t grow up appreciating country music. As a kid, my idea of country music was formed by goofy caricatures like Billy Ray Cyrus and more recently by soulless, commercialized pop musicians like Taylor Swift. In my mind, country music represented ignorance and stupidity. So it was refreshing to learn there was an underground country music subculture that created intelligent, thought-provoking music inspired by the unique and real life experiences and struggles of sophisticated, working class people.
This brings me to Nellie Wilson’s new album Not This Time.
At a lean ten tracks, Not This Time is a brief yet subtly powerful album inspired by the experiences of a woman “born to unwed parents in a trailer in an unincorporated town in rural Wisconsin.” The opening track, The Town Fool, is a brief yet potent song about your proverbial small town scheister. The second track, Suicide Kiss, is a high pitched, heart felt song that reminded me a little bit of Exene Cervenka’s 1989 solo album Old Wive’s Tale, but with a unique twist all its own.
Guitar, fiddle, mandolin and banjo are the instruments Nellie Wilson effectively utilizes, along with her gossamer voice, to express her unique blend of classic country and modern folk music.
My favorite tracks on the album; The Bottle (more than me), Cruel Jim, and Broke Ass Blues are all ardent tales of working class strife that any American not born into privilege will appreciate, or at least relate to.
The album ends with the brilliantly haunting ballad A Noose and a Note.
While Not This Time reminded me of a diverse group a musicians ranging from Squeeze to Concrete Blonde, it retained an entirely original quality and sound that stands on its own two feet.
In an age of mass-produced, brain dead music, Nellie Wilson’s Not This Time stands out as a fiercely unique album that screams I WILL NOT BE COMMODIFIED.
Nellie Wilson’s Not This Time is available online from Solitary Records.