Wynonna Shares Her ‘Recollections,’ Why Looking Back Was So Much Fun

Many couples have spent their COVID-19 quarantine binge watching Netflix. But country superstars Wynonna and her husband, Cactus Moser, put their time together to much more productive use, recording an EP, Recollections, released on the Anti- label on October 30.

Videos by American Songwriter

“I’m calling it Recollections because it’s getting back to why it is I started singing,” Wynonna says, on a call with Moser from their Tennessee ranch. “People who listen to these songs go, ‘I’m hearing a different part of your voice.’”

Wynonna believes this new facet of her artistry has been drawn out because of the spontaneity of the recordings, which she and Moser recorded mostly by themselves in their home studio. “I come from the world of, ‘Do it again and again and again,’ and then you splice things together,” Wynonna says. But with Recollections, she found that “Live [recording] is so refreshing. It’s scary and yet it’s exhilarating because you can only do it that one time and that’s it.”

“It was more loose and fun, and that was the vision for the whole thing: not being stagnant and letting it be real not perfect,” Moser says. “There’s such fun moments we captured.” He points to their cover of the Fats Domino classic “I Hear You Knocking” as a prime example of this.

The other four tracks on the EP are “King Bee” (Slim Harpo), “Feeling Good” (Nina Simone), “Angel From Montgomery” (John Prine) and “Ramble On Rose” (Grateful Dead). It’s an eclectic mix, drawn from Wynonna and Moser’s personal favorites as well as songs they’ve played together in concert performances throughout the years.

With this project, Wynonna says, “I’m not trying as hard to be tough like I was when I first came out on my own, marching through the storm, fists in the air, going, ‘I can!’ Now I’m just really satisfied with my history and my experience, and my strength is just being myself in what I’m trying to say.”

Wynonna first gained fame as part of the duo The Judds with her mother, Naomi Judd, in the 1980s, notching up fourteen #1 singles. This was when she first met Moser, when they toured together (he was drumming for the band Highway 101. Wynonna then became a platinum-selling solo artist, starting with her 1992 album, Wynonna; she has gone on to release eight studio albums. She and Moser married in 2012, and he is her musical director, producer, and drummer.

Wynonna’s trust in Moser is what made Recollections possible: “Cactus Moser is so important because he challenges my perfectionism and says, ‘You’re not singing it again – it’s good enough,’” she says. “The reason we’re doing this together is because I couldn’t have been myself without him – he’s literally the one championing me and saying, ‘Just be you – sing it like you’re talking to me.’”

Moser also challenged Wynonna to go beyond her usual comfort zone when he urged her to play the harmonica on “King Bee.” Initially, she says, “I said no because I’m not professional enough.” But Moser persisted until she relented. When she listened to the final track, she says, “I thought, ‘You know what? I really can do it!’”

Moser says that breakthroughs like these – forged out of persistence – can keep artists motivated. “That’s the reason you do this as a life, because you’re going to have so many days saying, ‘That [part] sucks,’ but when you come back in the morning, you go, ‘Maybe it’s okay,’ and by the next evening you say, ‘This is great.’ That’s why you can’t stop.” After her good experience with her harmonica playing, Wynonna agrees that artists should be less self-critical: “Let go of the perfectionism and tap into your absolute creative heart and soul and follow your bliss.”

Wynonna and Moser show their playing skills on the rest of the tracks, as well – besides singing, she played guitar, while Moser played guitar, keyboards, bass, and drums. Moser says they knew they were hitting their stride “when you can listen to it and look at each other and go, ‘That is moving me.’”

With Recollections finished and COVID-19 restrictions still keeping Wynonna and Moser mostly at home, they’ve already begun work on their next project together: “We’re writing a new record that’s basically a complete autobiographical record,” Moser says. “It’s got the discovery of discussing what’s honestly real – not just thinking about love and generalizations, but thinking about specifics.”

As they say goodbye so they can get back to work on that album, Wynonna says, “I do have one more thing to say because I always do.” She wants to relay a piece of advice she once got from Vince Gill. “He said, ‘Pick something that you love so much that you would do it for free. Continue to practice doing it until you get so good at it that people pay you to do it.’”

That type of pure love for music comes through on Recollections – as it likely will again on the next album, and all their future work together. As Wynonna says simply, “I look forward to doing more of this because it’s fun!

Get Recollection on your favorite digital service: here.

Leave a Reply

Evolution of Betty Moon Could Lead to Grammy Nominations for ‘Little Miss Hollywood’