Sarah Gayle Meech
Tennessee Love Song
3.5 out of 5 stars
Being crowned “Female Outlaw of the Year” at the 2nd annual Ameripolitan Awards in Austin and a few dollars will get you on a Nashville bus. But it’s a positive start for Music City by way of California’s Sarah Gayle Meech. Her sophomore release leans just enough to the mainstream to get some much needed crossover exposure without sacrificing her hardcore honky-tonk roots.
The title track of Tennessee Love Song seamlessly meshes the countrypolitan string laden pop of Glen Campbell with a twangy melody that’s both glossy and rootsy, a tough balancing act to accomplish. These 15 songs all aim for that same basic ground with some edging more into rockabilly (“Little Black Hole” features co-producer Andy Gibson’s hyperactive pedal steel, the insistent chug of “Watermelon and Root Beer” is impossibly catchy) and others like “Get it Over” pushing into Hank Williams Sr. territory. Others such as the lovely ballad “Rain Song” find the sweet spot between folk, pop and country and the opening “Stormy Weather” sounds awfully close to Patsy Cline at her most affecting. Gayle also skirts close to bluegrass for the jaunty, fiddle powered “Love of Mine.”
Every track is immaculately formed with a basic backing of sparse but not skeletal bass, drums and guitar. Each is framed by her husky, effortlessly endearing vocals, somewhat similar to Shelby Lynne, that are as inviting as her tunes. A duet with Joshua Hedley on “True Love,” another highlight, shows she’s willing to share the spotlight when the tune calls for it.
However, this is all Meech’s show. She wrote the songs, co-produced it, handpicked the musicians, and self-released the album on her own indie label. That’s a bold move for a relatively new talent, but it proves how passionate she is about her art and how hard she is willing to work to keep it real.
Despite Meech’s numerous tattoos, it’s tough to make a case for this as true “outlaw” music since it’s too honeyed with many of the edges buffed. But that in no way diminishes the obvious dedication, love, talent and craft infused into it.