Sunday, April 12, 2009

Gloriana Makes Me 'Wild At Heart'

It's rare that I riff on country music -- mostly because I don't know much about it. I don't listen to it much, except for an occasional Carrie Underwood or Taylor Swift song, both of which can be arguably labeled as 'pop' depending on your set of ears and/or radio station. Most country songs strike a wrong chord with me -- kind of like nails on a chalkboard or a fork scraping across a plate. I couldn't tell you why. I've just never been a fan. It's not that (all of) it is bad, it's just I can't get into it.

However, there's just something about a good country song that sticks its hooks in you and won't let go. Such is case with new country quartet, Gloriana, and their debut single "Wild At Heart."

There is no denying country music is back with a vengeance on the US Pop Charts. Keith Urban scored a #1 album this past week, and Rascal Flatts are expected to debut at #1 next week. And you can't even mention 2008 in music without mentioning the force of nature that is Taylor Swift.

Gloriana's "Wild At Heart" was offered as a free download at the U.S. iTunes store a few weeks back. Since then, the song has bounced up into the Top 40 of the Top Country Songs here in the US (however, to my knowledge, it has yet to chart on the Hot 100). I tend to download all of the free downloads because you never know what you might get. Sometimes they are awful. Sometimes they strike you indifferent. But sometimes, they casually grow on you until you forget you didn't even pay for it.

Gloriana is on an indie label, and is made up of Rachel Reinert, brothers Tom and Mike Gossin and former solo singer (and Epic Records recording artist) Cheyenne Kimball. I had no idea Kimball was a part of the band until I heard the song, liked the song, and looked up more on the artist, which makes Gloriana all the more charming. I liked Cheyenne enough to buy her debut album, The Day Has Come back in 2006. Her career was slated to be a big deal; she even had a MTV TV show for what it's worth, but her singles never caught fire at radio and (much like her former labelmate Nikki Flores, who guest appeared on a few episodes as I recall) Cheyenne apparently sought other avenues.

A lot should still be said for Ms. Kimball, however, who got her first big "break" winning 'America's Most Talented Kid' contest when she was 12 years old. Since then, she's had her own television show, a debut album on a major label, three singles recieving moderate success and an appearance on a few soundtracks...and then, to be"forgotton" about for three years, only to pop up again...and she's only 18 years old. I was stunned to hear that's how old she is! I thought she was around my age...In fact, her final "official" single, "Four Walls" was recently covered by Miley Cyrus and featured on her Breakout album, retitled as "These Four Walls".

It's always exciting when you see someone you hadn't thought of it a while pop up again in a new way (::cough::Brooke Allison::cough::cough::), but it's better when you like the new strides they've taken (::cough::Unlike Brooke Allison::cough::cough::).

Gloriana is definitely different in its attempt to devise a boy/girl group -- something we haven't really seen in the American market in a while. They remind me of a country-fried version of S Club 7 or Jump 5, but with more soul. The brothers play guitar, and Cheyenne plays the mandolin in addition to singing. I can definitely see the influence of Fleetwood Mac in their tunes, but of the four different tracks I've heard by them now, "Wild At Heart" sticks out for its unapologetically country feel, but still feels relevant in the pop realm. True, it's nothing we haven't really heard before, but something about it screams summer, backyard barbeques and hanging out with your friends. And I like that.

Gloriana will be heading on tour opening up for Ms. Swift and her pal and former "American Idol" contestant, Kellie Pickler this summer.

Thank you, Taylor Swift, for making country "chic" again. I guess your the new (younger) Shania Twain, right? Check out "Wild At Heart" below.


Myfizzypop said...

you had me at s clu 7 - i'll give them a go. A country "pop" group? Interesting...

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