Emily Nenni “Drive & Cry”

New West Records, 2024

Vintage country with sass from Nashville-based Nenni.

artwork for Emily Nenni album 'Drive and Cry'Vintage country has been making a comeback, with artists like Sierra Ferrell in the spotlight, and Nashville-based Emily Nenni sets out her stall with her distinctive take on the genre with her new release ‘Drive and Cry’, which draws on honky tonk, classic ballads and two-step numbers, with 60’s country soul in the mix too. The 12-track set was produced by John James Tourville of The Deslondes at Creative Workshop in Nashville and mixed by Matt Ross-Spang (John Prine, Jason Isbell) at Southern Grooves in Memphis.

Album opener ‘Get to Know Ya’ is an up-tempo rocker, which would have slotted comfortably onto a Carlene Carter album of the Nick Lowe/Dave Edmunds era, with a sassy edge to her vocals, as Nenni sings of heading out to the bar, “Bust out my biggest hoops, jumped into my jeans I can really only stand up/ in Find a fella wearin’ denim tight as he can fit em, see if he can keep up past ten.”

That sense of having fun with her music shines through on the 12-track album, all self-penned with the exception of her cover of Terry Allen’s ‘Amarillo Highway’ which closes the collection. ‘Greatest Hits’ is an ode to Santa’s Pub, a dive bar Nashville honky tonk venue in a double-wide trailer, where she finds “Pipin’ hot lovin’, ice cold beer/ That double-wide trailer/ We’ve honky-tonked at for years/Time with the family, a big belly laugh/  Givin’ weed to my neighbors/ Pattin’ my good good dog on the back.”

Nenni shows another side of her musical influences on ‘I Don’t Have to Like You’ with strong hints of the country soul vibe of classic Muscle Shoals recordings of the 60’s and 70’s, while rousing up-tempo ‘I Don’t Need You’ goes full on soul, with Hammond organ, sax, hand claps and big backing vocals.

‘Changes’ echoes the 60’s girl group era, a la Yola, “All starts with a feelin’, it can hurt when you grow/ Be the sweetest piece of hell you’ll ever know/ You step left and get pushed right/ Dust off your denim and set your sights/ It’s all a part of being lost and alive/ The further down you fall the rougher you’ll rise/ Someone is gonna make you think twice/ It’s all a part of being lost and alive”, complete with melodic guitar riff and key change.

It’s the up-tempo numbers which hint at the strength of her honky tonk venue live shows, with ‘Rootin’ for You’ again with a sassy take on a good night out in the bar “Before you go puttin’ down your beautiful size/ And hatin’ on the natural circumference of your thighs/ Too round, too short, too tall, too slight/ Try lookin’ at you with a pair of doting eyes”.

This is a fine take on vintage country and country soul.

8/10
8/10

About David Jarman 115 Articles
Long time fan of Americana genre, from early days of Ry Cooder, through to today's thriving scene. Regular visitor to USA ( Nashville/Austin/Memphis/LA ) live music junkie, I play guitar, mandolin, harmonica, plus vocals, run monthly jam session in Broadstairs
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