Gravel & Wine is a collection of glossy pop songs with the typical “everyday cliché catch phrase as song title” formula that normally makes me want to vomit.
But Gin Wigmore is a professional, so I can totally forgive her for that. She’s like a grownup Disney kid I could envision tap dancing across the American Idol stage whilst simultaneously juggling six or seven chainsaws. On fire. Feels like she’d be just as comfortable doing what she does as she would in a community theater production of Godspell.
– So my point here is that I don’t want to vomit when I hear these songs, no matter how clichéd their construction. I’m eating this shit right up.
First song of hers I ever heard was “Kill of the night”, which was used as the theme for the Netflix/BBC series Crazyhead. Cool song… again; real poppy, but takes a few neat surprising turns. I don’t know, seems like I’m more appreciative of proficiency, song craftsmanship, professionalism – all of the crap that used to bug me when people I knew who went to Berklee College of Music or New England Conservatory whipped out their chops – as I get older.
At first I thought this song was the Noisettes, and proceeded to sing the praises of singer/bassist/Nubian fucking goddess Shingai Shoniwa, who is sooo totally one of the above mentioned “professional” types.
-Yeah, this next involved being asked about the specific type of women I’m generally attracted to, which completely put me in the fucking doghouse with my girl.
Talking DAYS here, people… however imagine my surprise when I find out it’s not only a white chick responsible for that, but she’s from fucking New Zealand, as well. Which to me is hella bizarre… but then, I don’t know one goddamn thing about her country except that they’ve got excellent public arts funding – so now I’m wondering if everyone in New Zealand is just fucking awesome. Could be. I don’t know…
Whatever. Gin Wigmore is awesome. Didn’t save me from being razzed about the whole “Nubian goddess” thing, but you know… Chicks, man.
Anyway, big selling point for me is the same type of (prophetically) gravelly “Billy Holliday” head voice that gives Shoniwa, Macy Gray – mayyyybee Amy Winehouse that “show tunes” cred I was blathering on about. Even better: sounds more like Carol Channing than Billie Holliday coming from our gal here… which at first glance is kinda lame, but once you get it it’s freaking great.
So yeah, I’m thinking that not only would Gin be comfortable, but she’d fucking own that Godspell production. And like any good Disney kid she also fucking owns the type of glossy pop songs that start out in diminished minor, then the strings come in and boost it into major angel happy town. And I’m looking at YOU, “Don’t Stop” – thought you were gonna be a Fleetwood Mac cover. Don’t get me wrong; I’m glad you weren’t – but I could totally see her doing Stevie Nicks. It’s a way better song, though – hell, they’re all better songs than Fleetwood Mac.
Yeah, fuck Fleetwood Mac.
But oh dear readers, the deep cut that hooked me into purchasing the whole album was decidedly less poppy: “Sweet hell” – a psychobilly shuffle with man/woman call and response vocals that’s reminiscent of X at the top of their game, only way better. Plus there’s a mariachi trumpet. That’s awesome. I was so into this song that I looked for and found a live performance of it on some YouTube channel or other:
- and yes, she does indeed fucking own a performance. With smiles and jazz hands, no less. Speaking of psychobilly – twangy guitars. Gin seems to really like that stuff for this album. I know I do… it works really well for her: “Devil in me” starts off with this full (and hollow) bodied sounding guitar intro/vamp/theme/whatever, complete with killer bigsby trem bar dives. It’s the hook that hooked me and hooked me up… it’s just a really good song. We’re back to the really clichéd formulaic pop songwriting, but I don’t mind it at all.
This broad totally delivers. My only anti-corporate/indie rock elitist snot rag criticism is the dude (presumably, see below) responsible for all the twang: Butch Walker.
According to his Wikipedia page, Butch Walker is “an American recording artist, songwriter, and record producer, [who was] the lead guitarist for the glam metal band SouthGang from the late 1980s to the early 1990s” Yeah. I’m old as fuck, and I’ve never heard of any of these people. Whatever. Dude co-wrote quite a few songs on Gravel & Wine, and I’m at least assuming he’s behind the twang-bar guitars – but I’m not all that bothered to go and look it up. If it is him, however, he could totally stand to turn up the twangy and turn down the glossy – this stuff would sound so much better if it were only a bit more RAW.
Like, if I were this guy I’d have gotten Billy Zoom and John Doe into the studio immediately. Always be humble. Puts a man smack dab on the goddamn map.
Oh well. Record’s very good, and my fourteen year old daughter says I’m not all weird and creepy for liking this chick. There’s MY cred, right there.
Gin’s whole look thang is she’s all tattooed up and badass – and her shtick is slathered with this sort of Mexican Day of the Dead and Satanic imagery. (Loosely) referenced in song titles only, though… the material’s mainly sweet, romantic, classic pop songstress “I’m a’ git that boy” stuff” – WHICH ONCE AGAIN TOTALLY WORKS WELL FOR HER. As well, once again has me completely hooked. It’s like a happier, kinder, gentler Satan behind that imagery – the dude who introduced you to the girl you met at the vacation bible camp you went to when you were eleven – that you unashamedly fucking loved… because duh, Satan.
Long story short, this dame’s essentially Katy Perry of the Living Dead.
She’s the kinda hot possessed chick who makes Simon Cowell cum in his entirely too tight whatever label designer jeans… and hey – if Gin Wigmore sold her soul for rock n’ roll, then rock n’ roll is real goddamn lucky to have her.
Plus she sort of makes me wanna sleep with Carol Channing. That sort of rules.
Pfft – X never had a fucking mariachi trumpet. Fucking amateurs.
*you can’t even script this stuff.