GRETCHEN WILSON > One of the Boys

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

When Gretchen Wilson exploded, all white-trash moxie and brazen ball-busting, she was declared a new kinda girl-singer in town. Yet somewhere between the breakout “Redneck Woman” and hardcore “Here For The Party,” she stereotyped as one-dimensional trailer park party girl.Label: SONY NASHVILLE
[Rating: 2.5]

When Gretchen Wilson exploded, all white-trash moxie and brazen ball-busting, she was declared a new kinda girl-singer in town. Yet somewhere between the breakout “Redneck Woman” and hardcore “Here For The Party,” she stereotyped as one-dimensional trailer park party girl.

The tragedy was what went unrecognized: a moment-capturing songwriter, classic country vocalist, feminist ideal, single mother, modern blue collar icon. Those aspects never emerged. Even her second album’s best moments: a cover of Billie Holiday’s “God Bless the Child” and the Grammy-nominated “I Don’t Feel Like Loving You Today,” failed to ratify those other aspects of the woman with the chainsaw vocal chords.

One of the Boys is an album that wants to be so many things, but never goes far enough to ground believability. In a jungle of almost-there metaphors and sweet sounding vocals, she sings pretty, but never burns with conviction.

Instead Wilson, who was once a rebel yell and a free spirit in a world of female objectification, just seems lost. Not walking the line, but straddling it, she half-apologizes “I can kick your butt if I want to,” while cooing she prefers “to be treated like a queen.” Killer-Attack of The Stepford Wives, indeed.

Hemmed in by an image she must feel obligated to serve-“If You Want a Mother,” “You Don’t Have To Go Home” and “There Goes the Neighborhood” mine near-clichés-she retreads retreads. “Pain Killer” gets close in its heartbroken honesty, while “To Tell the Truth” is a sheer triumph in terms of gritty performance wide-open writing and an earthy arrangement.


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