I’ll be honest with you: Even though some of my favorite country artists right now are offspring of other famous country artists, whenever I see a new one coming up, I always roll my eyes. I’m not sure why, but in my head I think, “How good could they really be?” But time and time again, my instincts are proven wrong. There truly must be a country music pedigree that runs deeper than just a marketable name, and Shelli Coe, daughter of David Allan, is yet another example of this.
With her first full length album, A Girl Like Me, Shelli debunks any thoughts of talent skipping a generation. She’s puts out a good, solid, classic country album with some neo-traditionalist elements as well as a little rock n’ roll. It’s 12 songs that cover a wide variety of emotions and true life country topics.
The title track “A Girl Like Me,” and songs like “Truly,” and “No More Me and You,” pulled me right in with heavy handed pedal-steel guitar. Pedal steel always gets my ears perked, and usually gets the pop country crowd punching out. Many of the songs on this album have that classic sound that when you hear you immediately say to yourself, “Yes, that is what I mean when I say REAL country.”
The slower traditional country songs are in my opinion the best tracks of the album, songs like “Truly,” “May Your Heart Rest in Pieces,” and possibly the best track of the album, “Face to Face.” They are classic, without being corny like so many songs that use old-timey verbage in the lyrics or that have their masters through some filter to make them sound vintage. They just work in a traditional country sense.
In “Truly,” Shelli pays tribute to her father in a special way (you’ll have to listen for yourself to find out how), and in “May Your Heart Rest in Pieces,” Shelli articulates the eternal theme of lost love, while again that pedal steel guitar helps tug your heart strings even more. “Face to Face” is a cheating song, and it isn’t classic sounding, it is a classic, period. An instant classic. Shelli Coe doesn’t have the strongest of voices, but I thought these slower, hard country songs really brought out the strengths her voice does have. She used some vibrato and was able to really flood her lyrics with emotion.
Her voice is most evident in “Falling at the Speed of Sound,” which starts of with just Shelli and a guitar. In the space, Shelli’s voices outright shines.
The album does have a few low points. I wasn’t particularly impressed with her “Please Come to Boston” cover, though I’m rarely impressed with well-known, and sometimes worn out cover songs. Her cover of her dad’s “If This Is Just a Game,” was a little more my speed, but I’ll rarely favor a cover over an original. I’d also second guess the song “That Memory of Mine,” which had a little too much rock guitar for me. Maybe by itself this track would have worked, but taken within the album, it felt like a reach for a radio hit.
The more straightforward, rockish songs also tended to expose Shelli’s voice, which whether it came across as weak by nature or by arrangement, it always seemed stronger the more countrified the tune was.
But the few missteps aside, I really like this album. There may be some better albums than A Girl Like Me that will come out this year, but there will also be many many more worse. With this album Shelli Coe really makes her mark as more than just a famous name. I’m sure the mainstream will mostly ignore it, and some of the more hardcore elements will not get enough “whiskey and devil” references for their taste. But for me, it was right in my wheelhouse, and I see lots here to make daddy proud.
You can preview all the tracks and purchase the album on Amazon by CLICKING HERE.
Shelli Coe’s label is Big Beard Records.