The first impression I got was a voice like a young Ronstadt with a definite Dixie hue; passionate, pure, made to sing poetry. In many ways her voice IS the album title - Beautiful and Wild - although the title was inspired by someone else.
The music, despite the Nashville pedigree, is more folk music, maybe folk/pop Roots Music, Americana, than country. The influence are drawn from a large swath of musical history; The Beatles (listen to the way "Skeleton Key" matches the guitar notes - played marvelously by Doug Lancio - to the lyric the way The Beatles did "I Want You") The Stones, Neil Young, a thousand blues men and women and a splash of James Taylor for tenderizer.
The lyrics are poetry, with mysterious hidden meanings, not narratives. The themes and imagery of the songs are bad love ("St. Christopher") the loss of loved ones ("Beautiful and Wild", "Sidewalks"), life's ups and downs ("Mercy", "Rider Ghost") and other themes where souls are lost and found as they connect with demons and saint in this world and others. Out of that Mulligan Stew of musical mileage, White manages to paint pictures with words and sounds that are full of emotion, lay the soul bare, are subtly sexy, and most of all, honest and real.
Beautiful and Wild is professionally and wonderfully produced by Marco Giovino (Band of Joy) and is peppered with some great players: Doug Lancio, from John Hiatt's band is on guitar and mandolin. John Jackson (Bob Dylan and Shelby Lynn) on guitar and harmonica, Frank Swart covers the lowdown on bass. he's played with Patty Griffin, American Astronaut (formerly Billy Nayer Show) & Funkwrench and engineered the first recordings for The Pixies. Marco Giovino not only produces, but bangs the drums and plays the accordion and shakes your soul on other percussion instruments.
On keys is the Grammy Winning Billy Earheart who not only played piano for Hank Jr. for 21 years but is the original Hammond B-3 Organist and pianist for The Amazing Rhythm Aces. Billy E is the soul of the south on keys and has also toured with R&B legend Al Green, Eddie Hinton, Memphis Slim, BB King and has appeared on over 200 albums to date.
There's a nice little string section on some of the cuts. Molly Thomas is on violin and Larissa Maestro on cello. Backing and other vocals are provided by A.J. Croce (Jim Croce's son), Ann and Regina McCrary, the great gospel singers from the BCM Mass Choir who have toured with Dylan - who Regina has partnered with for over 20 years! "Everything that I shared and experienced onstage with Bob Dylan has played a big role in who I am and where I am today in my life." says Regina. They've also toured with Stevie Wonder, Tyler Perry. Regina also acts, she's been in the stage version of the blockbuster hit comedies "Madea's Family Reunion," as Momma Mattie, and "Diary of a Mad Black Woman," as Angelo. She has also appeared in the following touring plays: "Something Within," "What A Difference A Day Makes," "Gotta Find Me An Angel" and "Crazy Love," starring Tommy Ford from the hit TV show "Martin," .
We've also got Tomi Lunsford, Mando Saenz, Scott Carter and Melissa Wolf on vocals.
Beautiful and Wild is White's fifth studio album may just be her best to date.
The Dirty Lowdown