Lainey Wilson is back with her second studio album since being signed to BBR music group in 2018. With the title “Bell Bottom Country ”, a callback to the genre that the singer-songwriter herself classified her music into, we can already tell that this album is sure to be the most powerful and authentic work of Wilson’s yet.
Wilson had an excellent year for her career in 2022. She released a pair of No. 1 country singles, and won two CMA awards. In addition, she began her acting career as “Abby” in the hit show “Yellowstone.” This album is the summation of all her successes, and you can feel her confidence and strong personality shine through in every single track.
Starting off strong with a southern-rock inspired song, “Smell Like Smoke,” Lainey Wilson speaks to the power and strength that her trials have brought her. “But if I smell like smoke, it’s only ‘cause I’ve been through hell,” the country star sings. This song has the unique juxtaposition of her religious positions, with lines like “Heaven’s where I’m gonna go, the Bible says so on my shelf,” and her statement that she let “a blue-eyed two-timing devil kiss [her] on the mouth”. It’s interesting to see a little more into Wilson’s inner life, religious and otherwise, with these lyrics. And of course, with the strong bass line, a classic electric guitar with beautiful country-driven riffs, and the ethereal layered vocals throughout, we can tell that we’re in for a riveting album.
Wilson slows it down with her next song, “Hillbilly Hippie.” It’s a real treat to hear her pure vocals so clearly in this one, and in her next track, “Road Runner.” Road Runner features a rallying drum track, and a chorus that will be sure to get stuck in your head for weeks to come.
We come next to Wilson’s second most-played track on the album– “Watermelon Moonshine.” This song features heartwrenching lyrics about Wilson’s young love. As she states, “there’s never nothin’ like the first time,” and proves it with soulful electric guitar strums, acoustic melodies in higher octaves to really tug at the heartstrings, and of course, her electrifying voice pulling the whole thing together.
A few songs down, we have the song that really set Wilson on this path to fame– “Heart Like A Truck.” This gorgeous song, with sweeping melodies keeping the song grounded in one place– though Wilson may not be nearly so grounded, according to these lyrics– is a beautiful mixture of all the good things about this album. With nearly 35 million streams as of January 2023, Wilson has gotten her well-deserved fame from this song, as it climbed the Billboard list for country artists, featuring her on the Hot 100. The song describes Wilson’s love for travel, and desire to “never stay in one place too long.” It’s a bittersweet song in many ways, as we can feel Wilson’s ache to travel, to be under the sun, to live a life just riding in a truck down the highway with no directions and no destination. However, as we all know, the country star has risen to fame– and with her tour starting this month, it looks like she’ll be riding in a tour bus instead of a truck around the country. Although, maybe she could convince her management to get her a little trailer out back so she could still imagine she’s living that life, “throw[ing] it in drive,” “ready for the ride pedal down state of mind.”
Overall, Wilson’s new album is a culmination of all her success thus far, and brings everything beautiful about her style and talent to the surface. It will be a great pleasure watching her climb to become an iconic name in the country genre for years to come.
Reviewed by Zoe Wynns