Album Review – Cameron Wrinkle’s “In My Heaven”

Forget all of the close approximations and hyphenated hybrids of country music, or the sappy singer/songwriter “Americana” stuff for a moment. When it comes to Cameron Wrinkle, he’s a straight-down-the-middle textbook definition COUNTRY artist with no wiggle room to spare. It’s the kind of country that is unabashed and unapologetic in a way that makes you feel warm and assured that all is right in the world when you listen.

In other eras, an album like In My Heaven would have you labeled as out-of-touch or fuddy duddy. It’s too much like George Strait. But now that country is cool again in country music, an artist and songwriter like Cameron Wrinkle is ripe for discovery and full of upside potential. This is a perfect moment for him to release a debut album that is worthy of sparking a national conversation.

A 5th generation musician for the tiny town of Tscola, Texas, Cameron Wrinkle started playing fiddle at the age of three and competed in fiddle competitions growing up. By the age of nine he was picking guitar and writing his first songs. After high school Wrinkle started traveling to Nashville to refine his chops and write with some of the legendary songwriters in the business. Cameron spent over three years in Music City paying dues before pointing his nose back to Texas.

Wrinkle scares you a little bit with the opening song called “I’ve Got a Thang.” A slightly different musical approach and you could hear a list song like this playing on Hot Country 98.1. But the seven other songs on this short but sweet album are a testament to the appeal and beauty of traditional country with all those turns of phrases and double entendres that are the perfect compliment to love and heartbreak songs.

If you’re feeling rosy, the sweet and reminiscent “The Day You Walked In” might be right up your alley, or perhaps “In My Heaven,” which if we’re being honest, is a song idea that’s been done plenty before. But like all great country music, when Cameron Wrinkle starts to sing about heartbreak, that’s when it really hits home, whether your heart happens to be broken or not.

The Western Swing-influenced “I Can’t Take Me Anywhere” is a mighty fine specimen of Texas-inspired country music, and is one of the four songs co-written by Wrinkle on the album. “Takin’ This Leaving Too Far” is the kind of song every other artist and songwriter hears, and kicks themselves for not writing and recording first.

The flamenco-style guitar of “Off The Record” gives this songwriter’s song the perfect flair, while the time changes and tasteful steel guitar really helps you feel the emotion of “Breakfast of a Fool.” Everything is squared away, buttoned up, and in proper order on In My Heaven. Even though the approach might not be entirely novel and some of the early songs on the album a little sappy, it finishes strong and the writing is original.

Years ago you would almost have pity for a young man like Cameron Wrinkle for being cursed with the penchant to perform traditional country. But today he embodies the kind of sound and authenticity that many are searching for and others are trying to emulate. A great country voice with some serious songwriting chops to go along with it, Cameron Wrinkle hopefully has a bright future ahead of himself in country music. And if Cameron Wrinkle is involved, country music will have a bright future too.

1 3/4 Guns Up (8/10)

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