Album Review – Brit Taylor’s “Kentucky Blue”
For years now, Kentucky has been been at the forefront of birthing and breeding the artists most responsible for saving country music in the modern context. Of course, Kentucky has always been the country music Heartland when you trace the lineage of the Country Music Highway (US Route 23), and how so many artists grew up along its path—folks like Loretta Lynn, Dwight Yoakam, Keith Whitley, Gary Stewart, Patty Loveless, The Judds, and many more.
But the most recent country music insurgency from the Route 23 region including Sturgill Simpson, Tyler Childers, Chris Stapleton and the like has been lacking in women to help represent the movement. Enter Brit Taylor, who called upon fellow Country Music Highway alumnus Sturgill Simpson to producer her new album Kentucky Blue with David “Fergie” Ferguson.
With each song at least co-written by Brit Taylor with some help from folks like Pat McLaughlin and Adam Wright, Kentucky Blue is a pretty perfect specimen of classic country written from a modern perspective that puts the real world struggles of working people in the foreground like the best of music from Kentucky does.
With no pretentiousness or agenda, Taylor conveys her relatable frustrations at finding an easy path forward and a man to love in ten tracks that tug and the heart and stir the soul. These are snapshots of Brit Taylor’s life set to rhythm and melody—songs like “Rich Little Girls” about the ease some women enjoy in life while others are not so lucky, or the watery and string-laden “No Cowboys” about the lack of real men and real country music in Music City.
Sturgill and Fergie find a rich tapestry of country influences to embellish Brit Taylor’s songs with while still staying well within the classic country realm. The absolutely devastating “Love’s Never Been That Good To Me” not only finds the emotional watermark for the record, it revitalizes the lush Countrypolitan sound to do so with enough string power to wake the ghost of Glen Campbell, followed by “For A Night,” which feels like could fit on the soundtrack of a critically-acclaimed movie from the 1970s.
These songs are counterbalanced by the funky and sweaty “If You Don’t Wanna Love Me” indicative of Tyler Childers or Brent Cobb live, and super rootsy songs like “Cabin in the Woods” and “Kentucky Blue” with their fiddle forward approach. Variety of sound is an asset to this album, and makes for an album that you can start at the beginning and listen to the end without any soft spots.
About the only concern for Kentucky Blue is it’s also one of those albums that is always really good, but never spectacular. Every track fits just right, but none of them really take any chances or carry a distinctiveness to help define Brit, while the writing sticks close to classic country themes. But this is also what results in no missteps and a smooth listen throughout.
Like so much of the greatest country music from Kentucky and beyond, Kentucky Blue acutely captures the humanness of life experiences in a way that we can all identify and commiserate with because it’s real. It’s also at a level of quality where it’s should be necessary to update the Wikipedia page and other assets covering the Route 23 Country Music Highway through Kentucky to include Brit Taylor as yet another one of the region’s creative assets.
1 3/4 Guns Up (8/10)
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February 6, 2023 @ 9:43 am
We seen her album release show at The Basement on Saturday and the songs were just as amazing live as they are on the album!
Brit Taylor and Kelsey Walden are the two best female country music artists out there right now!
February 6, 2023 @ 9:39 pm
Thank YOU. Whatta travesty to not mention Kelsey Waldon in that insurgency lineup as the poetic shepherd from Kentucky that she be! Trigg, I must be missin’ somethin’!
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Womens’ gritty realities, growth, attitudes, paradoxes, and complexity is what sticks for me (e.g., Nikki Lane, Elle King, Miranda Lambert, Ashley McBryde, Kelsey Waldon, and others). Women listeners want to embody, feel, or relate to a strong, deep, flawed, dynamic character. Well, at least I do. Otherwise, it’s a snooze or forgettable with the same ol’ tropes, uninspiring plays to the male gaze, and whatnots.
All around well-executed record and charming vocals. Interesting choices towards the end… 7/10 Stand outs:
“Ain’t a Hard Livin’”
“If You Don’t Want to Love Me”
“Anything but You”
“Rich Little Girls”
February 6, 2023 @ 9:52 pm
Kelsey Waldon has received a ton of press here over the years and is a great artist. But she is from Money’s Eyebrow, Kentucky, which is closer to Missouri, Indiana, and Illinois than it is to the Country Music Highway in Eastern Kentucky. Yes, a Kentucky artist, but not from the same region cited in the review.
February 7, 2023 @ 8:52 am
For a while I thought Margo Price would be the new great independent female country singer, then I thought it would be Morgan Wade, but they both went in different directions. They are still great artists, but I gravitate towards straight country music, not pop or rock. This is why, in my opinion, Kelsey and Brit are the best out there! Great country music that doesn’t make you fall asleep!!
February 7, 2023 @ 10:21 am
Kaitlin Butts will be taking the reign soon enough
February 9, 2023 @ 6:25 am
I thought Margo Price was going to be the female lead as well. Every album she released after Midwest Farmer’s Daughter seemed to venture further and further from her country music sound and that is fine. None o it resonated with me as much though but she puts on a hell of a live show.
I was hoping Charlie Marie was going to catch on after she released Ramble On but she took a hiatus from music shortly after the album dropped and hasn’t toured to my knowledge. I hope she comes back cause that album is a perfect blend of classic sounds and modern production.
Sierra Ferrell is probably the actual front runner of the independent female artists. There was a missive crowd that showed up for her at Under The Big Sky last summer and her set was early in the day.
February 9, 2023 @ 9:16 am
Yes, I only listen to Midwest Farmer’s Daughter, not a fan of her newer stuff. I think she is trying to be like Sturgill, but she just can’t pull it off like he can! I can’t get into Sierra Ferrell either. I think I have listened to Kaitlyn Butts, but I should probably take another listen!!
February 11, 2023 @ 8:08 pm
You nailed it. Sierra is the front runner. Charlie Marie didn’t catch on with her last album like I hoped she would have. Kaitlynn Butts has a lot of momentum behind her now, it won’t be long before she really starts to take off.
February 6, 2023 @ 10:18 am
I really like this album. It sounds beautiful. Sturgill and Fergie really shine. I believe your review is pretty much spot on.
“it revitalizes the lush Countrypolitan sound to do so with enough string power to wake the ghost of Glen Campbell”
I swear I had the same thought and reference point for the sound.
“About the only concern for Kentucky Blue is it’s also one of those albums that is always really good, but never spectacular. ” I am tending to agree. However, I was listening to a random playlist. Song came on that I really thought kicked and had to look to see what it was. It was “If You Don’t Wanna Love Me” .
The production seems to be a bit stronger (The instrumentation is spectacular sounding to me) than the actual material.
This album could be a slow burner and with time and a few more listens to words and singing, could be that something special.
February 6, 2023 @ 11:36 am
“If You Don’t Wanna Love Me” has Stu all over it. Cross between “Ain’t All Flowers” and “Whitehouse Road”, just an absolutely filthy melody.
Agree with (both of) you that there are no major singles, but the entire thing is good. Virtually no skips, and it’s a testament to the full team on the album.
Bad day for the “Sturgill is a bad producer” crowd. Both Childers and Margo Price went a different direction on their latests, and it definitely showed.
February 6, 2023 @ 9:52 pm
Sturgill as a producer plays it too safe at this point. There’s something to be said for cohesiveness, though.
February 7, 2023 @ 7:00 am
Sturgil has been a mixed bag as a producer. I don’t think anyone can argue that. When Britt announced Sturgil was producing a new album for her I actually thought it was be a poor decision. I was expecting him to attempt to change her style or meld her into more Americana genre. What a surprise and delight when the first singles came out. Congrats to Sturgil for pushing Britt to new levels of what she was already good at instead of trying to make her something else.
February 7, 2023 @ 10:25 am
I think it’s probable that those artists come to him knowing that he is open to different approaches, and believe he has the artistic vision to help them create something that might give them a pop.
Prior to this release, he’s been the man in the chair for a number of artists working on wildly different projects.
1. Jazz infused dream/electro pop with Lucette
2. A Sevie Nicks esque, Analog (70s/80s) rock album with Margo Price
3. Grammy nominated/winning Alt Country/Americana albums for himself and Childers
4. A Grammy nominated Hard Rock album
5. Grammy nominated Bluegrass Reprise albums
What in his catalog did you find subpar?
February 7, 2023 @ 11:47 am
Honestly, I didn’t care for his production on Margo’s album, or any of his own for that matter, minus maybe the bluegrass albums, which were more of a passion project. I actually did like Tyler’s album.
You do make a valid point. Perhaps the direction of the albums he produces are driven by the artist. Or perhaps, he is growing in his production shoes. Either way, I commend his efforts here.
February 6, 2023 @ 11:27 am
I’m usually a man of many words but this album has been on repeat since it came out. First stumbled upon her on Kimberly Kelly’s FB page, watched The Cavern Sessions live show and been a fan ever since. Just a good tunes smooth album that slid right into my morning drive rotation. Yep Trig, For A Night takes me right back to the summer of 74…… always love the retro feel tunes many artists are embracing now. Almost forgot that Sturgill was involved, everyone did a great job!
February 6, 2023 @ 3:15 pm
Must be because we both reside in The People’s Republic of Illinois, albeit in very different locales, that our tastes in music run quite similar. Not to sound like a fan boy, but when a project like this gets your approval, I dig a little deeper into the artist. For that I thank you.
February 10, 2023 @ 9:04 am
“The People’s Republic of Illinois”….ha ha ha….. yeah Scott even though we do reside in different places (and for the record I live in a suburb 10 miles outside of Chicago) it’s still cool that you, I , and many of us enjoy the same tunes. I chime in on the gals album reviews more often probably because I just love going to watch them play and the odds are stacked against em so much they have to work 3 times as hard. To me they’re every bit as important and should be heard, talked about, and celebrated. Trigger does an incredible job making sure that’s so. I’m glad you and others appreciate my 2 cents which is sometimes 5 cents. The melody/chorus for Kentucky Blue has been swirling in my head all week and that’s a good thing.
February 6, 2023 @ 1:17 pm
I am making a music mix on my you tube channel, and she is definitely going on there. This is the main reason I come here, to hear great talented singers that I have not heard. Love her voice, I hope she has a long career, I have just officially became a fan!
February 6, 2023 @ 1:42 pm
Agree with everything in this review. There’s some really good songs and no missteps but nothing that just stands out, which isn’t a bad thing. It’s probably best album Sturgill has produced for someone else (I’ll never forgive Sturgill for ruining Whitehouse Road, i partially kid).
February 6, 2023 @ 8:17 pm
Love the banjo and fiddle in Cabin In The Woods.
Adorable and fun video.
Brit’s voice is perfect for it.
And, have to give major kudos to Sturg, and David Ferguson.
See what happens when you let natural voice and instrument talent, shine?
February 7, 2023 @ 6:44 am
Love this album. Been a fan of Britt’s for awhile, but she has mostly remained under the radar. This album is changing that and she is already receiving a lot of attention for it. Britt is following Kelsey Waldon in proving that women can make great country albums that are successful and appreciated without having to settle for pop country radio or Americana rock. Congrats to Britt for helping lead the way for women in independent country music.
February 7, 2023 @ 10:11 am
Another great review of an artist I wasn’t aware of. The Eastern Kentucky music has me wanting to visit that part of the country based on the beautiful stories that get told from there. I really enjoyed the album. I find her voice reminding me of Ashley Monroe many times throughout the album, and that’s a good thing. It’s a very relaxing album, and one I’ll try again when that mood strikes.
February 8, 2023 @ 7:38 am
…first entry in my 2023 “album of the year” contenders list. delightful overall and “ain’t a hard livin'” in particular.
February 10, 2023 @ 2:16 pm
Just saw Brit last night at her second stop on her album release show. She played every song on the new album with a full band and several older songs with just guitar accompaniment. Her voice is great and man can she hit some high notes. Genuinely an authentic and very sweet person who spent time talking with fans well after the band packed up their gear. She was very appreciative of SCM’s review but did say Sturgill was a bit ticked she didn’t get a 10. She attributed that to Trigger’s inherent disdain for most all things Nashville. 🙂 Go see her folks when she comes through your town. She is truly wonderful and deserving of success.
February 11, 2023 @ 4:31 am
Been a fan since I heard her first album “Real Me” back in 2020 and this second one does not disappoint! Solid album with good variety in the songs. Well done Brit!
February 13, 2023 @ 6:58 pm
I went to the release in Nashville and I was so impressed with the songs. She played all 10 songs , I don’t even have words for the emotions I felt. Happy, sad, at times I felt 30 years younger lol. I left the show feeling empowered but yet humble! The power in the lyrics and storytelling plus the awesome band was amazing. (Lots of fiddle, steel, banjo) All the songs seemed to flow flawlessly from one to the next. She has a beautiful voice and a true performer. Definitely a favorite and award worthy for sure. Wonderful album
February 13, 2023 @ 7:07 pm
10/10 consumers deserve more albums like this. 10
awesome songs, no skips needed. Brit Taylor is so authentic, we need more Brit in the world. Love her voice and music.
February 24, 2023 @ 9:17 am
I’ve had this album on repeat since its release, and every time I listen to it, I have a new favorite song. There is a song for every mood, from the fun “Cabin in the Woods”, to the tongue in cheek “No Cowboys” to the philosophical “Best We Can Do”. Sturgill Simpson produced the album; he knows talent when he hears it. Can’t wait to hear what’s next from this talented singer from Kentucky!
March 2, 2023 @ 5:23 pm
The only disappointing aspect of a Brit Taylor show is that she’s married and not currently in the market for a bald history teacher like myself