The Bluegrass Situation: Roots Culture Redefined

Kelsey Waldon, ‘Dirty Old Town’

Aug 12, 2016

Kelsey Waldon has had a hands-on insight into classic country since she moved to Nashville, supplementing her formidable debut, The Gold Mine, with van tours and honky-tonk shows, as well as a different kind of education with a gig behind the bar. On her sophomore full-length, I've Got A Way, the Kentucky native further proves she does have a way — with introspective lyrics and a delivery that somehow turns heartbreak into a soundtrack fit for long drives in the country or a late night on the porch.

The album's opening track, "Dirty Old Town," is an early standout for its spry tempo and the way it expands upon the coal town commentary that made The Gold Mine such an ear-catching first release. From the very first riff, "Dirty Old Town" sets the tone for I've Got A Way by ushering in the record's heroine with a healthy dose of side-eye to small town life and a self-deprecating, endlessly relatable nod to the fact that you can know the flaws of a place — or a memory, relationship, or, hell, a grudge — without necessarily letting it go. Waldon has quickly established herself as one of Nashville's rising class of artists carrying the torch for no-frills classic country, and that's particularly evident in the instrumentation on this cut: Prominent pedal steel and swift finger-picking provide the optimum backdrop for Waldon's thick, sweet drawl. The song may stick to country's most recognizable characteristics, but it's a well-placed introduction to this record of foot-tapping highs and gut-wrenching lows.

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