The truth is that in the City of Angels, it’s not that often that we’re graced with a talented country musician on any of our most intimate stages. By the time artists come out west to Los Angeles they’re either the main act or the opener in a large stadium, almost insuring that we don’t get the same intimate ability to lose ourselves in the up-and-comers of the genre that Nashville or other small cities might get. So, when Meghan Linsey took the stage at The Hotel Cafe, it was a special treat for any country fan located in Southern California. The 10PM time slot, in which most of the LA-ers were heading home to their beds on a Thursday night, made for a more intimate performance for those of us that had the wherewithal to remain.
In case you didn’t know, Meghan Linsey was once half of the country duo Steel Magnolia, who ceased performing as a duo only this year. In the midst of some major life changes, Linsey has worked hard to find ground for herself as a solo female artist in a very male dominated environment, and set to work crafting beautiful songs that evoke a soulful blues style that is beyond well suited to her voice. The sheer power and apparent effortlessness of her vocals immediately hit you when she begins singing, whether it’s an attitude fueled up-temo or a despondent ballad, she captures emotion in a way that takes most vocalist years to learn. Throughout her short set Linsey debuted new songs off her up-coming, yet untitled EP, that were chock full of country goodness and stunning vocalizations.
One of the standouts was the upbeat “Good Boy Bad,” a good girls quintessential struggle with the bad boys they constantly allow into their lives. While she points out her affliction for the musicians who treat like dirt and the desperate need to find a better man, her voice flies over the chorus with passion and frustration. There was the heartbreaking “Cocaine,” that touches on the affect that addiction has on, not only the person with the problem, but everyone around them. On a track that could be so deeply personal, Linsey’s voice is both affected and soulful, fighting like hell to get the emotion out into the world. It was one of those songs that silences a room, that makes you turn the words over in your mind, and then completely get lost in. In a better radio world, this would be a number one hit. And my hope, is that it could still make it on the airwaves. The dynamic song “Letting You Go” was enough to wake us from our searching reverie, an explosive song about shedding the ties that bind you and allowing yourself to move on, it also strikes as deeply personal in the wake of the dissolution of Steel Magnolia and her relationship with Joshua Scott Jones. The song stands strong as a powerhouse female anthem, encouraging you to do what’s right for you, and let go of any preconceptions that any one place is where you should remain.
One of my favorite songs of the night was the anti-bro country song, “Try Harder Than That.” It serves as a response to the stereotypical view of women in a country music, running rampant on the radio, in their cutoff shorts with a willingness to hop right into a guys truck simply because he owns one. In her girl-power anthem she demands that the man work harder and be better, in order to win her love. I, for one, hope that this song sees its way up the airwaves as soon as possible. In the same way that the men have their party voice, the women should have their response heard, and country music is in desperate need of more female voices. Meghan Linsey and her timeless, soulful voice, would be the perfect person to begin the revolution.
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