Album Review – Rylie Bourne’s Self-Titled Album

You know, when I started this little blog I didn’t really know what my intentions were. I guess I made it because I love writing and I love giving my opinions on all things music, good or bad. Over time my goal with this blog has shifted to just being a blog that promotes what I consider to be great music as well as champion artists that hardly anyone knows about.

In this rapidly changing age of having all sorts of music available at our fingertips as well has having plenty of outlets to share it, you can bet that I’m always doing my best to find music worth talking about. There are rare instances where the good music comes to me however, either through social media or through email which is exactly what happened with an artist named Rylie Bourne.

Rylie’s background is pretty interesting. She released her self-titled debut back in December while also balancing her time as a senior exercise major. The weeks may have been spent studying but the weekends were filled with hard work out on the road. In addition, music has played a large part in the past three generations of the Bourne family, but for Rylie, the urge to play didn’t come to her until she was seventeen years old. But she finally did get that urge, and her driving attitude has to be admired.

Flashing forward to the here and now, Rylie Bourne’s self-titled debut is one that has been on Country Music Mind’s radar for quite sometime now. Quite simply because it’s just really damn good. This is a very dark album at its core, but not dark in the sense meaning moody or “inaccessible”. Dark in a storyteller’s sense, where the characters are all facing their own personal troubles and aren’t really sure how to fix them even if they do something about them. To be able to craft all eight of these tracks at such a young age shows a great talent in Rylie.

In addition, the production is also top notch. So much credit needs to be given to producer Guthrie Trapp for crafting an album rooted in organic instrumentation. In the age of spacier textures and horns (not saying this is a bad thing however), it’s refreshing to hear an album such as this. It’s country, but also extremely rootsy as well, the kind that lends itself to a hint of bluegrass and Americana. Even moments that get a tad “funkier” such as “Lovin’ Kind” or “Remember My Name” start with the roots formula and branch out from that. As such, it’s an extremely cohesive album.

This album isn’t a concept album in nature, but as I stated before there’s an underlying narrative theme of characters facing troubles in their lives. “Ain’t Lookin’ Back” starts with a woman running away from an alcoholic, abusive spouse in Tennessee and you can immediately tell that Rylie already has a strong knack as a songwriter, especially for her age. “Farewell” seems almost like a continuation of “Ain’t Lookin’ Back” with the female narrator essentially telling this guy from before that nobody’s really even going to cry when he’s gone due to all of the pain he’s caused to people. While “Foolin’ Myself” and “One Thing” both center around a woman who’s making some poor decisions in her life, there’s enough lyrical detail in both tracks to separate them as standouts. The former is a fantastic waltz that in another age long ago would have been a huge hit at country radio. Of course, another highlight on here is “Mary Ann” which focuses on a woman who catches her best friend Mary Ann going behind her back with her lover. The female narrator’s confrontation with Mary Ann isn’t pretty either.

My criticism for this album is odd, mostly because it is and isn’t a criticism. The latter half of this album takes a lighter turn from the darker atmosphere of the first half. Is it needed? Possibly, but I still would have loved to have seen the album carry out the darker, sometimes visceral atmosphere until the end. It’s odd though, because one of the lighter tracks on here is arguably one of the best. “Remember My Name” is Rylie’s ode to follow her dreams and represents her “won’t give up” attitude that will always follow her. It’s a fitting song for a debut album.

It took me awhile to get around to covering this, and unfortunately my main enemy was time. But folks, I’m telling you that this is a rock-solid debut album. It may be a tad short for some, but when there’s no filler present here, I’d say that an album that connects in a short time is still a victory. Rylie is very much determined to make in the music business, and after hearing this album I’d say she’s worth your time.

Note: While this album was released in December, Country Music Mind’s album eligibility rule for 2016 runs from December 2015 until November of this year. Therefore, this album will still be considered for any 2016 awards.

Best Tracks: “Farewell”, “Remember My Name”, “Mary Ann”

(9/10)
You can buy the self-titled album from Rylie Bourne on iTunes, or on Amazon!

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