Kelsey Waldon — No Regular Dog (Oh Boy Records)
Kelsey Waldon’s damn right.
She’s No Regular Dog.
And the Nashville-based singer songwriter’s all the better for it.
At a time when country music can be accused of drowning in pop-lite commercialism, Waldon’s awash with retro-fuelled joy.
Heritage-heavy, heart-on-sleeve authenticity drives No Regular Dog.
This is a record that’s as proud as it is profound.
It’s pure, unfiltered and hugely powerful.
Waldon casually revisits a bygone era of soulful, sensual 70s-styled country.
And No Regular Dog’s frequent nods to hazy bluegrass and ambient Americana lay the foundation for a truly special album.
If an endearing voice sounds familiar, don’t be fooled.
Sure, Waldon’s teasing, toe-tapping tone’s a perfect fit for classic country.
But it’s distinctive enough for the Kentucky native to stand out from the crowd.
And a reassuringly rich vocal style surely empowered producer Shooter Jennings as he sought to illuminate one of Music City’s brightest stars.
Waldon’s natural talent made his job easy.
But Jennings’ strength is in his ability to cradle that voice in complementary layers of sweet melody and understated groove.
No Regular Dog is bold and beautiful but so very nearly broken: deliberately exposing the frailty and fragility deep within this strongest of female role models.
Waldon points to the future by leaning heavily on the past.
It’s a tried and tested approach that works a treat.
Season’s Ending is just the start
Raised in Monkey’s Eyebrow, Waldon enthusiastically apes her visionary idols.
But there’s no lazy mimicry at work here.
Take the sublime Season’s Ending — a blissful contender for standout track.
Waldon’s heartfelt tribute to mentor John Prine underpins a lifelong commitment to country music’s carefully guarded traditions.
And yet its originality is in that oath to an enduring genre.
With Jennings a constant cheerleader, Waldon plays to her strengths.
Producer and artist combine to create a soundtrack that’s both legitimate and life-affirming.
The haunting History Repeats Itself is almost harrowing in its delivery.
Waldon’s at her brilliant best laid bare and set free.
Peace Alone (Reap What You Sow) relies on a disarming melody to dig deep into the psyche of a special songwriter.
‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions’ sings Waldon.
It’s a recurring message as reality bites on No Ordinary Dog.
Then there’s Sweet Little Girl’s tear-jerker of a ballad.
Dance to it or drown your sorrows to it: the choice is yours.
But it’s another fabulous example of Waldon’s canny storytelling: the seemingly harmless title juxtaposed with some uncomfortable truths.
No Ordinary Dog’s a breed apart.
It’s captivating country, from the heart.
Enjoyed this? Check out our Top 10 Country Records Of 2021 here.