Home Blogs Turning the Tide: Lainey Wilson Shines With “Bell Bottom Country”
Breaking Out: Lainey Wilson Shines With "Bell Bottom Country"

Turning the Tide: Lainey Wilson Shines With “Bell Bottom Country”

by Rachel (@tootsiepop6)

What do you get when you blend old-school influence with a fresh perspective? “Bell-bottom country.”

The country music scene in the last several years has been saturated with pop-country artists and with what has been termed “bro country.” The tide changed on Oct. 28, 2022, when country music songstress Lainey Wilson released her second major label studio album: “Bell Bottom Country.” The term refers to Wilson’s own description of her unique musical style. Establishing Wilson as a household name in the industry, this album masterfully highlights her prowess as a singer, songwriter and a truly one-of-a-kind artist.

Since the album release, “Bell Bottom Country” won Album of the Year at both the 2023 Academy of Country Music (ACM) Awards and the 2023 Country Music Association (CMA) Awards. More recently, Wilson snagged Best Country Album at the 66th Grammy Awards.

“Bell Bottom Country” was just the strike of the match that is Wilson’s potential. Let’s dive into what truly sets it apart from the rest.

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Album Review: “Bell Bottom Country” – Lainey Wilson

The first few notes set the scene not just for the next 2:48 minutes but for the album’s entire mindset. Faint background conversations and the beginning riff from the guitarist place you in what is presumably a dive bar. As the drums hit, you feel like you’re right there watching the band live.

The album starts off with the rollicking tunes “Smell Like Smoke,” “Hillbilly Hippie” and “Road Runner,” which assert to Wilson’s audience who she is – country to the core. Her strong vocals and rockin’ country instrumentals draw listeners in.

She then pivots, slowing it down with “Watermelon Moonshine,” which is reminiscent of the ’90s Deana Carter hit “Strawberry Wine.” Both of these songs lean on nostalgia and young love. This was Wilson’s second single released, peaking at No. 1 on U.S. Country Airplay (Billboard). In it, she croons:

“There’s never nothin’ like the first time

And mine’s always gonna taste like

Watermelon moonshine.”

Wilson’s songwriting absolutely shines in “Bell Bottom Country,” and she showcases that as a co-writer on all the album’s songs except for one, which is a cover. Unapologetically, Wilson isn’t afraid to “go there” with her songs whether it be in the truth-filled storytelling or the innovative sound she weaves throughout.

After “Watermelon Moonshine,” the album ups the tempo again with the rocking “Grease,” where her playful lyrics discuss handling the heat in and out of the kitchen. Wilson then dials it back down with “Weak-End,” a song about being lonely, going out on the weekends and “a neon bad decision they could leave with.” She shows us the highs and the lows of the dating scene. Wilson encapsulates the wants, desires, heartache and the realization that things don’t always work out the way you’d hoped.

But the good times, they are good. “Me, You, And Jesus” is a softer frame of mind, counting blessings for being accepted as she is. Wilson says, “Some damn days I’m just trying my best,” but goes on to thank her lover:  “Y’all just listen and don’t judge me/Just shake your head and love me.”

Not keeping the pulse down too long, Wilson rocks out with “Hold My Halo” next. Renowned Nashville musician Charlie Worsham picks the banjo on this song, giving it a certain badass country-western tone to reiterate that there is no angel act here. This one makes listeners want to take off their own halos and go party it up.

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Wilson’s Heart Shines Through Her Lyrics

Wilson pours her heart out in her next tune, the standout of the album, “Heart Like a Truck,” which punches the listener with its earnestness. Comparing her heart to a truck and the toughness both endure, this single really put Wilson on the map, making country listeners take notice. She lays it all on the line, proclaiming, “Lord knows it’s taken a hell of a beating/A little bit of love is all that it’s needing.” Being the lead single off the album, it peaked at No. 2 on U.S. Country Airplay (Billboard).

Through sharing her truths, Wilson paints herself as the trusted friend you can lean on. You get to hear the good and the bad that comes with love. And when you need honest advice, she’s the girl you want in your corner. In “Atta Girl,” she sings to a girl going through heartbreak, encouraging her to leave the relationship. Wilson declares to the girl that she doesn’t need the guy and that she can hold on to her own happiness.

Bringing the rock and funk back out, Wilson thumps out “This One’s Gonna Cost Me” before leaning on sentimentality with “Those Boots (Deddy’s Song).” Singing tribute to her father, Wilson parallels his boots with what he’s meant to her and wanting to find a man with the same traits. The album stays in the reflective tone with Wilson singing “Live Off” which again honors her country upbringing and the work ethic it taught her. You can feel the pride she has in her country roots and her journey – and listeners can’t help but relate.

It doesn’t stop there. The smoky, melodic “Wildflowers and Wild Horses” continues that country living theme. This was the third single off the album, peaking at No. 10 on U.S. Country Airplay (Billboard).

Before the last song on the album, Wilson hits us with a country cover of the 4 Non Blondes song “What’s Up (What’s Going On),” the only song on the album she did not have a hand in writing. The album then rounds off with “New Friends,” a heartfelt ballad contemplating the what-ifs of a new beginning after an end.

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The Future of Authentic Country Music With Lainey Wilson’s Influence

Not only does this album highlight Wilson’s talents and personality, but it’s also a testament to genuine country and what is needed in country music now. The trend of pop country has been overtaken by Wilson’s self-assured confidence and authenticity. There has been a pointed shift in country music, all by the hands of Louisiana born and raised powerhouse Lainey Wilson.

Where does Wilson go after the success of “Bell Bottom Country?” She recently released a new single, “Country’s Cool Again” that doubles down on her assertion as being true blue country.

“Must be something in the water flowing out of the hollerBlue collar must’ve caught a new windY’all hop in the back, how ’bout that?‘Cause country’s cool againAin’t that some shit? I found a few hits‘Cause country’s cool againSo cool again”

Yeah, y’all. Country’s cool again. Persevering with conviction and her strong sense of self, Lainey Wilson is making an impact in the world just by being who she is – all decked out in cowboy hat, boots and her signature bell bottoms. Wilson’s tour de force “Bell Bottom Country” turned the tide in country music, and it is exciting to see what she does next.

Thanks for reading my blog on Lainey Wilson & “Bell Bottom Country.” Follow me on Twitter @tootsiepop6 for more entertainment and football content!

*Photo Credit: Andrew Nelles / The Tennessean – USA TODAY Sports*

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