Album Review – Elle King’s “Come Get Your Wife”
Well now. Comedian Rob Schneider’s daughter has hauled off and made herself a country record. And just like Elle King herself, it’s a little much and all over the place. That’s not to say there isn’t any entertainment value to be had. On the contrary. Elle King turns in some real quality songs at times. And even when the album train wrecks, a train wreck can be entertaining all unto itself, especially when that train wreck is conducted by Elle King.
In truth, Elle has probably been more of a country artists than anything else for a while now, if not forever. She won a CMA Award back in 2016 with Dierks Bentley for the collaborative “Different For Girls.” She picked up the banjo as a teenager right after learning the guitar, and cites Earl Scruggs, Hank Williams, and Johnny Cash as early influences. Her debut EP was produced by Chris DeStefano, who is a mainstream country guy based in Nashville.
The first time I ever saw Elle King is when she made an unannounced appearance at Willie Nelson’s Luck Reunion outside of Austin in 2017. She’s toured with Miranda Lambert, The [Dixie] Chicks, and Chris Stapleton. I could keep going, but you get the point. Elle King doesn’t feel like some carpetbagger or interloper. The new album Come Get Your Wife feels more like Elle King making her country allegiance official.
Perhaps in an effort to ingratiate herself to the country genre, Elle King takes on many different complexions on this album. There is is straight up super rootsy country material here. There is absolutely terrible country radio pop. To judge this record as a whole is tough because it’s so all over the place. You land on the right or wrong song, and you may get a completely incorrect notion of what the country version of Elle King is all about.
King’s radio single with Miranda Lambert called “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)” is so transparent in its pandering to radio, you almost have to laugh. Elle King also duffs a duet with Dierks Bentley on a song called “Worth A Shot” by adding hand claps and other radio-friendly gestures to an otherwise passable track. With Ross Copperman as a producer on this album, you knew it would take some wrong turns at times.
But brushing those two selections aside as the radio refuse they are, the balance of Come Get Your Wife is much more interesting. Originally from rural Ohio, a song of the same name opens the album, immediately establishing a personal nature to the work. If there is anything consistent throughout the album, it’s a sort of trashy persona that Elle King presents and countrifies for this project. “Before You Met Me,” “Tulsa,” “Crawlin’ Mood,” “Bonafide,” “Blacked Out” and “Out Yonder” all lean into this attitudinal and inebriated character, along with other songs. This is what Elle King wants to broadcast through her country music.
What these respective songs actually sound like is much more complicated issue. “Crawlin’ Mood” written by Charlie Worsham and Jesse Frasure is about as country as country gets. So is the song “Bonafide.” Even in the more pop-ish songs on the album, banjo and steel guitar will breeze in when you’re not expecting it, like in “Try Jesus.” There are also a few songs that are much deeper than the rest of the material, namely “Lucky,” and the Tyler Childers-penned “Jersey Giant,” which might be the best song of the set.
This isn’t meant to be a singer/songwriter album. This is a redneck hurricane slamming the trailer park and sending all the dirty laundry flying, and ripping the sides off of doublewides to expose the secrets. Elle King wanted to make a fun record, and it’s hard to not categorize Come Get Your Wife as such. It’s at least “entertaining,” even if it isn’t entirely enriching. It does find some deep moments, but they’re fleeting. The country moments are more present, but interspersed with pop.
Getting your hands around this album is like chasing down a wet bar of soap. If you’re a mainstream country fan, this may be one of the better albums you’ll hear all year, but perhaps too twangy and rootsy for you. If you’re an independent country music fan, this thing is like walking through a mine field to find the good stuff, but the good stuff is still there and worth seeking out. Perhaps Elle King is throwing everything against the wall to see what sticks, or satisfying the suits with a couple of the worst songs so she can do what she wants, or perhaps country superstardom is what she seeks.
Either way, Come Get Your Wife is sure to be one of the most talked-about releases in 2023, and probably has something for you, no matter your sensibilities in country music.
1 1/4 Guns Up (6.5/10)
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February 1, 2023 @ 9:23 am
Thank you for covering, Trigger! Felt the same way, but love the new unabashedly more country songs and especially her gospel/soul influence she’s continued and amplified. Entertaining and character driven is what makes it stick for me.
White Working Class Christian
February 1, 2023 @ 9:23 am
A jewish child of privilege, raised entirely in the Hollywood milieu, LARPing as a country artist. When Morgan Wallen releases a klezmer album do you think anyone will cry “imposter”?
February 1, 2023 @ 9:36 am
Bad comment. Elle’s father was only half Jewish, she was mostly raised by her stepfather who she gives credit for contributing to her love for music, and there’s a song on this album called “Try Jesus.” Even if she was 100% Jewish, this somehow excludes her from making country music? Try telling that garbage to Ray Benson. She was raised in rather well-to-do society, but so was Gram Parsons. How about we focus on the music, which to be frank, has plenty of things to criticize, as opposed to attacking her for things she can’t control?
February 1, 2023 @ 9:58 am
And don’t forget Townes Van Zandt. He was born to a wealthy family. You gonna say he was larping as well? Country music isn’t just about your upbringing or where you come from. It’s about the song, the emotion, the soul, the feeling. It’s about real life. We can all face depression, drug addiction, death, sorrow, you name it, regardless of where you come from.
February 1, 2023 @ 10:16 am
Not that where you from, or who you are can’t afford an artist some level of credibility, but ultimately it should be about the music. Elle King has some good stuff on this album. Would be a shame to completely write it off.
King Honky Of Crackershire
February 1, 2023 @ 11:11 am
Van Zandt is one of the top 5 most overrated characters in the history of American music.
February 1, 2023 @ 11:28 am
Along with Dylan and Guthrie.
February 1, 2023 @ 12:36 pm
Pretty sure Dylan and Guthrie are considered more folk than country.
February 1, 2023 @ 2:38 pm
Honky said American music. Not country music.
February 1, 2023 @ 11:29 am
He was LARPing.
He wrote some good tunes, but he was LARPing. It is OK to admit it.
King Honky Of Crackershire
February 1, 2023 @ 11:15 am
….”How about we focus on the music, which to be frank, has plenty of things to criticize, as opposed to attacking her for things she can’t control?”…..
She has full control over her decision to pretend to be a C(c)ountry singer. That is why we are criticizing her for it.
Also, using a fraud like Parsons to defend another fraud, is illogical.
February 1, 2023 @ 11:21 am
“She has full control over her decision to pretend to be a C(c)ountry singer.”
Sure. But she doesn’t have control over her dad being half Jewish, and where she was born.
You want to criticize the music, criticize the music. I certainly did. Question her authenticity for making country music too if you want. But ultimately, the focus should be on the music first and foremost.
King Honky Of Crackershire
February 1, 2023 @ 11:09 am
White Working Class Christian,
Great comment, my friend. I’m unsure what importance her being Jewish has, but otherwise, really excellent comment.
I’m so tired of everyone thinking they can just be a C(c)ountry singer. The accents they put on are a mockery. Anyone who defends this crap is a fraud.
Redder Shade of Neck
February 1, 2023 @ 12:59 pm
King Honky Of Crackershire
February 1, 2023 @ 1:18 pm
Not nearly as much as I’d like to. It’s just hard to find time these days.
February 1, 2023 @ 12:56 pm
I don’t agree with singling out anyone in a negative way for being Jewish, but if you criticized white people in general then there wouldn’t be this ire. Funny.
February 1, 2023 @ 2:39 pm
Acceptable targets and all that jazz.
February 2, 2023 @ 6:28 am
I have a feeling you like Larping as a Grand Lizard at your local Klan meeting in some dudes living room. Just shut up…
February 5, 2023 @ 6:10 am
And you are just a raging anti-Semite LARPing as a human being. We don’t need any more disasters like you in the country sphere.
February 7, 2023 @ 10:14 am
It sounds difficult, having to decide if you like music based on the artist’s gender, political affiliation, zip code, and whether their daddy was ritually circumcised. It’s so much easier to just listen to it.
February 1, 2023 @ 10:13 am
Glad you reviewed this, Trig. Fun album — agree on “Drunk,” which was beneath both her and Miranda, but “Worth a Shot,” despite the snaps, has been burrowed in my brain since the first day it dropped. So shoot me, lol. I’m not sure where she goes from here, frankly. Will this be a one-off or will she find more focus (in the quality country sense) in future albums? I give this way more than a 6.5 but that’s probably because I refuse to be fully dragged from the mainstream after having wallowed in it obsessively for nearly 50 years, minus the bro-country era, when I basically gave up on new music completely.
February 1, 2023 @ 10:54 am
Ok I’ve been playing this album since it dropped and I went in with an open mind not having heard her sing a note except for the Miranda duet which I don’t care for. Yep there’s a few songs I kinda like, Crawlin’ Mood is one but at the end of the day even an edited version of this record probably won’t make my rotation and I wouldn’t go see her live. There’s way too many quality female artists with more talent that deserve the attention she gets over all but I like the review as well. What’s sad is she’s going to get the airplay and the tour slots that should go to others.
February 1, 2023 @ 11:58 am
Which quality female artists are you referring to?
February 1, 2023 @ 1:00 pm
Many of the ones we talk about on this site most of whom I’ve seen live like Hailey Whitters, Sierra Ferrell, Sunny Sweeney, Kaitlin Butts, Emily Scott Robinson, Caitlin Cannon, Kimberly Kelly. They’re not co hosting award shows or out on big tours for the most part etc….but every bit as talented and should get recognition other places than here.
February 1, 2023 @ 1:10 pm
JB telling us he’s not going to the Salt Shed w/ red clay strays opening, without telling us he’s not going to the Salt Shed w/ red clay strays opening.
February 1, 2023 @ 2:49 pm
You are correct Glendel. Nothing against the Strays. I’ve never been to The Shed, not sure what it would take to get me to go there but Stacy Antonel is playing Fitzgeralds Side Bar on Feb 18th I’m going to do my best to see her. I just don’t have time to see every show and there’s many coming. I’ve just had to become more selective.
Nick - Chicago-ish
February 2, 2023 @ 9:48 am
Here’s another show you may or may not know about. Alex Williams and Joe Stamm at Law Office in Yorkville. Private show. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you want tickets. I’m going to try and make it. Alex is with the full band and Joe is solo.
February 2, 2023 @ 7:21 pm
Thanks Nick I didn’t know about that. I emailed them. I thought I was on their email list. Apparently not………..
February 1, 2023 @ 11:38 am
Never saw her as a ” country” artist. Last year my gal and I caught her live show at a festival. Marty Stuart opened. Marty was as usual, on all cylinders. Wife said, let’s see Elle King. I said ok if I have to, I guess. She had a blues /pop/rock vibe. It was ok i suppose. Neither of us knew about her “performance art” she likes to showcase. Well, some call it twerking. Yeah, really. Thought we were at a Cardi B or Lizzo show for a minute. Then there was this stage move where she knelt down before her guitar player and mimicked this thing where…well you know…if you get my drift. Anyway, I’m sure many go to shows hoping to see that, and if you like that kinda thing, then Elle King is for you. Surprisingly the place was full of parents with little kids. But that didn’t seem to be a deterrent. I’d say it was 7/10 on the raunch scale. My conclusion was apparently, she’s going for a Kid Rock kinda deal. Maybe that’s what her fans like? I dunno. But it wasn’t our kinda scene. So we departed. Maybe we missed the ” country” part of the show? Later, I asked someone I know who has seen her before and he described the same vibe entirely. Hmmm…
February 1, 2023 @ 12:04 pm
She has covered Hank Williams Jr. and John Prine (with her opener) in the same show. I don’t see this as a fully accurate portrayal. She’s most definitely country, live, in both her backing band and her banjo playing, but has had a pop hit or two which she plays for her fans.
February 1, 2023 @ 12:46 pm
I can’t speak for how Elle King is live these days because I haven’t seen her recently. All I can speak to is this album, and even if folks don’t like it, it most certainly is “country” more than it is anything else, including pop. There are a few pop country songs on it for sure, but there is also a ton of roots in the writing and instrumentation.
February 1, 2023 @ 11:59 am
Some pretty good songs, and also some poppy ones that aren’t my style. Agreed that “Jersey Giant” might be the best on the album. It’s intro immediately makes me think of Lonestar’s “Mr. Mom,” though. Does anyone else hear that too, or just me?
February 1, 2023 @ 12:09 pm
The problem I have with many female singers – country or not – is their voices can be indistinguishable from each other. So many of the 20 something blondes Nashville is trying to push sound the same – breathy and high in their register – singing about the guy that got away. I like this album because it ain’t that. And you can tell Elle’s voice immediately. Like Morgan Wade. Lainey too. Many of the Texas ladies. Country or not this record is enjoyable save for a few clunkers Trig mentioned given her gritty soulful unique voice. Kinda pre-pop Grace Potter on steroids.
February 1, 2023 @ 2:06 pm
Where she came up with the album title is pretty amusing:
February 1, 2023 @ 2:30 pm
That is pretty funny.
February 1, 2023 @ 2:41 pm
That headline says fellow country star, Elle King.
In what world is Elle King, a country music star?
February 1, 2023 @ 4:33 pm
In a better world than the one Chris Young is a country music star in. Chris has a strong country voice but wastes it on pop crap. At least Elle is putting hers to good use.
February 1, 2023 @ 5:27 pm
Howard is not wrong even though I was a little harsh above and Elle King is not a star I’m fairly certain that the few songs that are good on her album blow away the drivel Chris Young puts out these days or will have on his next album. Good story though Stringbuzz I could barely make it through 1 Barmageddon episode it was so bad.
February 2, 2023 @ 11:21 am
I loved Barmeggedon. Laughed out loud many times. It’s stupid fun. Especially in times like this where we are bombarded with negativity. All. The. Time.
I don’t think Elle knows what type of artist she wants to be. She speaks of becoming a character and then becomes them.
February 3, 2023 @ 2:34 am
Barmageddon is very funny show. Elle just goes too far and can be very obnoxious and not funny. I actually never liked her father as a comedian or on SNL.
February 1, 2023 @ 2:40 pm
Great review! This is album is decent from Crawlin’ Mood on while the first half feels like it was made with radio airplay in mind. She is pretty talented regardless of what musical genre she decides to tackle.
February 1, 2023 @ 7:37 pm
Really did not like this album, just seemed generic to me. Thanks for covering though
February 1, 2023 @ 7:44 pm
I’m not sold enough to try this.
February 1, 2023 @ 7:48 pm
IDK but Jersey Giant is a killer tune. First time I heard it had to Google to see if she wrote it. As a fellow chicken farmer I approve.
February 3, 2023 @ 10:39 am
Seriously. Come for Jersey Giant even if you don’t stay for anything else. That song is fantastic, for her performance as much as Tyler’s writing.
February 2, 2023 @ 3:37 am
Her voice is total fingernails down the blackboard for me, to the extent that I have to switch off the radio when she comes on.
February 2, 2023 @ 7:13 am
I’ve been a fan of Elle since her first album which had a variety of influences including some Americana/Folk/Country style tunes. When she started doing some guest spots on country music stars songs and indicating she was going country I was hoping for more of the stuff she had done previously. Unfortunately, you can tell this album was placed in the hands of Nashville producers who turn out most of todays radio hits. While there are some good songs on here, the whole album just seems over produced, especially in the choruses. The originality of Elle’s other releases is lost here in another standard country radio album.
It’s a swing and miss for me.
February 2, 2023 @ 9:50 am
For some reason, “Jersey Giant” is being left off the physical (CD) version of this album. Not sure why. It’s the only song being singled out this way.
February 2, 2023 @ 6:30 pm
It was not supposed to be on the album. It was released as a standalone single (nor a radio single) in the Fall and really took off fast, so I think they added it to the digital albums last minute.
February 2, 2023 @ 4:37 pm
Elle King just seems so authentic, and I think that’s what makes her likable & this album digestible.
I liked your line about throwing everything against the wall and seeing what sticks. And it seems to be working for her. DRUNK, as much as everyone in these realms hate it, was a huge hit for not only Elle but also Miranda (I believe it is listed at Elle’s song first, but it is Miranda’s biggest and streaming radio hit in quite a bit). The 2nd single with Dierks was released way back in May but is finally taking off on the charts just these past two weeks. Interesting that the two bad radio singles have A-List collabs – I am sure the label is leaning on those veteran names to help with spins.
Then that leaves us with the good, authentic country stuff. Most interesting of which, I think, is Jersey Giant – which is doing well on digital and streaming given the force from Tyler Childers fans. I actually think this song works so well for her voice. If her label is smart (and i think they will be, given how this song is doing on digital and streaming) they will stop promoting Worth a Shot once it cracks the Top 40 next or two and shift promo to jersey Giant. I objectively do think Worth a Shot can and will do well at radio (maybe not as huge as DRUNK), but I think it’s best for Elle’s longevity in mainstream country that she gets behind Jersey Giant as a single. Would also be another huge breakthrough for Tyler Childs as a writer.
February 2, 2023 @ 9:36 pm
I’m not buying Elle as a country music artist. No way. That awful Drunk song that Elle has with Miranda got them both the now all important music streams on the “alternative rock” charts not the cm charts. To me Elle is an alternative music artist. So many other female cm artists in Nashville that deserve to be promoted over her.
February 2, 2023 @ 10:47 pm
I’ve been a casual Elle King fan after my partner introduced me to her music. I was surprised by how extra country this album was as we listened to it. I thought it was pretty good overall.
February 3, 2023 @ 7:19 am
There seems to be a consistant flow of these not-so-country “country” singers that cite Hank Williams and Johnny Cash as early influences and then don’t make a damn country album. This is similar to someone citing Mark Twain and Lewis Carroll as influences and then writing for BuzzFeed. Let’s just stop with the mainstream cliches.
Everyone has influences but, not everyone has the exact same ones. It’s every time they march one there showponies out for public consumption. The tagline is “The artists that made me want to get into Country Music are; Publicly accepted outlaw “A” and, publicly accepted outlaw “B”. This will win me favour in the public eye as I release a pop album about trucks, mud, beer and how “cuntry” I am.”
February 3, 2023 @ 11:13 am
I’m seeing a lot of folks saying this album is not country. If you listen to the songs “Crawlin’ Mood” and “Bonafide” and don’t hear country, I’m not sure what to tell you. This album is very comfortably over 50% country. The radio single is the major exception, but that goes for pretty much every mainstream release. It may not be up to your tastes in country. But it’s country.
February 3, 2023 @ 8:13 pm
Idk. Ever since I saw a video of her eating with her now partner and they would open their mouths and let good fall out then laugh I can’t un see it. At times she thinks being gross is being badass. It seems there are other artists that deserve a break before her. I’m not sold on her yet. I did like American Sweetheart though.
February 4, 2023 @ 10:28 am
Man she has one of my favorite voices in country music. This is a very polarizing album for me, the songs I like, i REALLY like. The songs I dislike, I REALLY dislike
February 4, 2023 @ 1:06 pm
The only track I skip is “Drunk.” I really like almost everything else, and absolutely LOVE “Jersey Giant,” “Crawlin’ Mood,” “Tulsa” and “Love Go By,” the latter two of which probably put me in the minority around here, which I’m used to. As you imply, there are few if any “meh” tracks on the album.
February 4, 2023 @ 4:01 pm
Agree with this review and the title of the article. Fun album that is all over the place. I have seen her live once, she was pregnant at the time so maybe her mannerisms we’re more subdued compared to others who have seen her but I thought she put on a great show and was awesome live.
February 5, 2023 @ 1:49 pm
Wow wow wow. Some comments on here really show peoples true colors. First of all, someone’s religious affiliation has NOTHING to do with anything, especially on a country music blog reviewing a country music record. Why don’t we ask Dolly, Waylon, or Garth, if it matters who you pray to. After all, ALL of this music is derived from African American music. Come on, actually research and learn about music if you’re gonna post about this stuff. Don’t come on here and express some vapid cultural/religious nonsense. It has nothing to do with music. On to the record. Elle is a true artist and has a unique and amazing voice. It’s a great record that does have a lot to offer, whether it’s pop radio country, American, soul, southern rock. Nobody cares who your dad is, nobody cares who you pray to, and you know what, who cares what “format” it goes on. If it’s honest and soulful in the way country music should be, it’s a win for me. People, please do better.