Brittney Spencer “My Stupid Life”

Smooth vocals and slick production make for a light and easily palatable record that still offers a good level of nutrition.

Brittney Spencer first came to many people’s attention when she posted a cover of The Highwoman’s ‘Crowded Table’ some three years ago, but it’s now finally time for her to show exactly what she’s made of with the release debut solo album ‘My Stupid Life’, and she’s brought along a few friends you may recognise for the ride, including Jason Isbell on guitar for two tracks, and Maren Morris on backing vocals for another.

Spencer worked with a varied team of songwriters throughout the album, but the two tracks written solely by her contain the most magic: clocking in at not much over two minutes in length, the acoustic ‘New to This Town’ is as fragile in its certainty of a new relationship as a newborn fawn taking its first steps (“I don’t wanna be fooled again / Into thinking I found a friend in you / I’m new to this town / So just hanging out”), Spencer’s airy vocals adding to the sense of fragility. ‘If You Say So’ has a kind of glam, cowgirl sparkle to it – which isn’t too surprising when you realise this, and all the other tracks bar one on the album, were produced by Daniel Tashian, the man responsible for a large portion of Kacey Musgraves’ seminal 2018 album ‘Golden Hour’ – the whole thing so smooth and slick that the potential end to a whirlwind marriage has never been more catchy.

“The high and low feelings / Everything between them | Everything you’ve ever felt,” sings Spencer of the beauty of music to transform and inspire on the light and fun ‘Bigger Than the Song’, where she namechecks country icons like Reba McEntire, Johnny Cash, June Carter and Dolly Parton, along with top 40 stars like Alanis Morrissette, Janet Jackson and Aretha Franklin. ‘My First Rodeo’ isn’t nearly as western sounding as the title might suggest, in fact along with ‘The Last Time’, it’s decidedly the most soulful Spencer’s voice sounds on the whole album and it’s a real treat to hear her hit those high notes.

The first of the two songs Isbell plays guitar on, ‘First Car Feeling’, definitely feels the closest of all the tracks to the kind of sound you would typically expect to hear from the man himself; with a beat that thrums away relentlessly and lyrics that feel coated in a, if you will, Isbellian wave of nostalgia, as Spencer reflects on the past (“You never get back that first taste of freedom / No matter how hard you try / And when everything’s changing you can’t see it”). ‘Reaching Out’, featuring Isbell’s second contribution, is quieter and more fragile, but more touching too, as it ventures into the past: “Mom and Dad don’t talk to one another / They used to be friends for a spell long ago / The little girl in me is still recovering”.

‘I Got Time’ is a simple earworm of a song that uses driving down the freeway as a not so subtle metaphor for sex: “You better fill up that gas boy / I don’t wanna take it slow / I’m cinnamon on your dashboard / Sugar me sweet and low / Gonna one, two step on yesterday / Rainbow down the interstate / No rains coming up our way / You wanna drive / I wanna ride.” ‘Night In’ is a similarly uncomplicated track about enjoying a night at home, but the most disagreeable part of it is its prelude, ‘Night In (Phone Call)’, a sort of semi-skit where Spencer, Morris and Abbey Cone, Fancy Hagood and Mickey Guyton chat about going out, although ultimately they decide to have a (wait for it) night in. It feels unnecessary and clunky in the flow of the album, coming off as an excuse for Spencer to not so subtly show off her famous Nashville buddies, and will no doubt be marked out as an instant skip track for most repeat album listeners.

It can’t be denied that Spencer can sound at times a little more Nashville country than you might normally expect to find on these pages, but she’s proof that having a pop sensibility isn’t always a bad thing, even if you do sometimes wonder if it means she might have sacrificed the chance of exploring some more complex emotions for a good hook; Spencer, however, has an answer to anyone who might question her vision on the title track: “You can say that I’m wrong / But it’s my fucking song / And I’ve waited all my life to sing for you tonight”, and honestly, who can argue with that?


About Helen Jones 132 Articles
North West based lover of country and Americana.
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