The Lucky One
First Appeared at The Music Box, September 2000, Volume 7, #9
Written by Michael Karpinski
For those constitutionally incapable of listening to country music without breaking out in hives or hysterics, the bad news is that Christy McWilson sings with the sort of tangy, ten-gallon twang that could bring Texas to its feet and Nashville to its knees. The good news is that she tempers that twang with a cosmopolitan pop sensibility that is much more reminiscent of Linda Ronstadt and Juice Newton than it is Kitty Wells and Loretta Lynn. Formerly the lead singer for Seattle's roots-rocking the Picketts, McWilson makes a solidly welcome and unpretentious impression with her first solo effort, The Lucky One.
Aided and abetted by a phalanx of faithful friends — R.E.M.'s Mike Mills and Peter Buck, former Golden Palomino Syd Straw, pedal steel guitar artiste Greg Leisz, et al. — McWilson weaves her simple, bittersweet testimonials around the themes of spiritual restlessness and domestic disaffection. Luckily for us, this woman is the antithesis of the weak-kneed, woe-is-me whiner — her complaints invariably coming couched behind the wriest of smiles and with the healthiest sense of acceptance and resignation in the face of the tides' eternal two-step.
Musically-speaking, The Lucky One is impeccably produced — slick and pristine almost to a fault. While a few uncorrected rough edges might have added a dash of spice to the sonic stew, the existing recipe is still rich with fiery flavor: Little Red Hen is a red-hot, Chris Isaak-styled rockabilly romp; the mariachi-in-Margaritaville Today is Yesterday's Tomorrow and the roof-raising barnburner Cryin' Out Loud both benefit greatly from longtime Dwight Yoakam sideman Skip Edwards' steady keyboard support; and Eloda's ghostly, slow-smoked ode to motherhood — and all its attendant sacrifices — features an interlocking collage of guitars that buzz and rustle like a grassland rife with rattlers.
On the sunnily strumming Someday, McWilson sings: "Someday I'll be satisfied/Someday I'll be someone I haven't been yet." The Lucky One should go a long way toward jump- starting that most personal of journeys.
The Lucky One is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2000 The Music Box