Aubrie Sellers | Far From Home | (Soundly Music)
4 out of 5 stars
The thump-thump-thump of pulsating drums pushing a distorted guitar riff that wouldn’t be out of place on a Sonic Youth album isn’t what you’d expect from an artist whose previous track opens her sophomore release with a melancholy ballad sounding like an outtake from Emmylou Harris’s Wrecking Ball. Such is the dichotomy that singer/songwriter Aubrie Sellers explores on the often riveting, never predictable Far From Home.
Sellers, the daughter of Lee Ann Womack and stepdaughter of Frank Liddell (who produces both of them), comes by her country vocals naturally. But the roughed up guitars and steely attitude that made Sellers’ 2016 debut such a standout release are amped up and pounded down further on this sequel.
Four guitarists are credited (although frustratingly not by the specific track they contribute to) and even when the songs are relatively straightforward country pop as in “Drag You Down,” the bolstered sonics and raw attack, both instrumentally if slightly less so vocally, justifies the “garage country” tag Sellers uses to describe her approach.
While she occasionally swims in less choppy waters such as on the melancholy, bittersweet “Haven’t Even Kissed Me Yet,” (“Sometimes the sweetest words can really start to hurt when you can’t tell what they mean…you’re already playing with my head”), the song closes with an eerie, reverbed guitar solo highlighting the dark lyrics. But when Sellers rocks out on “One Town’s Trash,” a co-write with the Raconteurs’ Brendan Benson (a veteran who knows from raucous rocking), or the propulsive “Glad” with its near experimental crackling leads and “I’m glad that you broke this heart of mine” lyrics, the gritty punk factor cranks up to Jack White standards.
The needle pegging goes all out in “Troublemaker,” this album’s “Helter Skelter,” where the band goes increasingly bonkers as the track progresses until disintegrating at its end. There’s a bit of Sheryl Crow in the modified melodic rocking of “Under the Sun” and a cool “Taxman”-styled beat that pushes “Going Places” to a Beatle-esque vibe. These balance the more abrasive moments on an album that rightly revels in its indie-rock meets country blend.
Although her mom has also gotten grittier under Liddell’s production hand, little of this would be confused for even the most unruly Lee Ann Womack tracks. Which is as it should be;Sellers, perhaps acting as the rebellious offspring, is clearly moving in a harder-hitting direction, pushing boundaries and carving her own unique musical path.