Review | Kelsey Waldon’s country songs feel as steady as what’s under her boots


When a rustic music makes you faucet your toe, that’s your physique sending your mind a touch that this music is simply fairly good. Toe tapping isn’t dancing the identical manner that chewing gum isn’t consuming. It’s a reflexive expression of the mildest satisfaction, and at finest, a affirmation of the world beneath your ft whereas your thoughts floats away.

Kelsey Waldon doesn’t write toe-tapping nation songs. Should you want proof, purchase a live performance ticket and get there early sufficient to stake out some turf up entrance. You’ll see the 34-year-old Kentucky native doing a unique form of footwork onstage whereas she sings her high-lonesome music, conserving time with the heels of her boots, as if her songs are issues that have to be stomped out of the bottom.

That’s the way it went for 90-plus minutes at Jammin Java in Vienna on Monday evening, anyway. Waldon’s lyrics about perseverance and progress took every kind of dazzling flights from her airways, however the elementary energy of her music appeared to originate beneath her left heel.

And these have been thoughtfully constructed, rigorously detailed nation songs, too, performed regular and onerous. The perfect of them got here from “No Regular Dog,” Waldon’s latest album and simply the most effective launched by any nation singer this yr. Performing its title track right away, the songwriter laid naked her multitudes inside the area of a gap verse, describing herself as “a wolf on the kill” and “a survivor of my desires” whereas her bandmates used fiddle and pedal metal to howl alongside, both in solidarity or sympathy. That’s as a result of Waldon wasn’t simply singing about limitless craving up there. She was singing about enduring it, and in case you have been caught out in that Monday evening darkness evenly tapping your toes to this uncommonly heavy ballad concerning the psychic weight of perpetual anticipation, you weren’t actually listening.

After that, Waldon promised her viewers that she’d “preserve barreling by way of ’em,” and he or she caught to her phrase — a phrase that felt notably well-chosen. As a result of even when sung in her most delicate twang, Waldon’s latest songs gave the impression to be barreling by way of robust reminiscences (“Season’s Ending”) and blurry futures (“Can’t Ever Tell”), their forward-motion rhythms persistently returning us to the current. Her rhythm-minded bandmates — pedal metal guitarist Brady “Muskrat Jones” Henry, drummer Zach Martin, bassist Erik Mendez, guitarist Junior Tutwiler and fiddler Libby Weitnauer — weren’t toe-tappers, both, and so they repeatedly marked their respective locations within the music from the underside up, making time itself really feel vivid, collaborative and actual.

As if Waldon’s lyrics hadn’t already achieved the job, there was some extra-credit poetry in that collective temporal push, too. Time isn’t some non-obligatory factor. Now we have to barrel by way of it whether or not we prefer it or not. However we nonetheless get to decide on whether or not to do it alone or collectively.

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