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Here for the Party

An album by Gretchen Wilson

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Here For The Party Plays in My Head To Mixed Results

  • Feb 19, 2005
  • by
Rating:
-1
Pros: Slickly produced, music, some lyrics.

Cons: GretchenÂ’s voice is not quite ready for prime time.

The Bottom Line: Final analysis: the mixture of good and bad tracks on Here For The Party makes a firm recommendation problematic.

In recalling the Grammy Award winners over the last several years, I have often wondered how exactly they (the committee) choose the winners. I mean, what is the criterion, what is the standard, what artistic yardstick are performers measured by in order to receive the final nod? Is their musical acumen, their songwriting talents, a combination of both, or is the Grammies devolving into a very large popularity contest?

And this year’s Grammy Awards were no different; I had to scratch my head and take a deep breath after I read the list of winners. Certainly some deserved the accolades heaped upon them, but some others did not, among them Usher, Rod Steward, and the subject of this review country new comer, Gretchen Wilson.

Hailed by most as the second coming of true country, the anti Shania Twain and Faith Hill, Ms. Wilson’s pedigree as it were certainly prepared her for the type of soul ripping music that informs grass-roots traditional Country music. On her freshman and Grammy Award winning (Best Female Country Vocal Performance) album Here For The Party, Ms. Wilson certainly gives us an earful of the sort of “Redneck” kick-a__, take no names Country music that used to define the genre, and that diehard Country fan are thirsting for. This certainly accounts for her souring popularity across the country especially in and among those who unabashedly consider themselves Rednecks, do good or ill.

While I found Ms. Wilson’s album engaging, and for the most part smartly written—indeed Gretchen co-wrote some of the tracks including the signature Here For The Party, and Redneck Woman—overall the CD fell short of my expectations. And while Gretchen certainly has more vocal talent and overall musical acumen then Shania, her voice is at best average, just a cut above mediocre. Yes, Wilson can carry a tune, but just barely; listen even marginally and the discerning ear will notice that she has no real range to speak of; her vocals are at best one dimensional and non-emotive. There are exceptions, songs were Wilson voice rose an octave or two and show some depth, but this was not enough to win me over, and inspire me to buy her next album without serious sampling first.

That is not to say that I thought Here For The Party was all bad, there were, as I alluded to above, some light at the end of the musical tunnel. The title track, Here For The Party, is a no holds bared, all out celebration of drinking, flirting, and plain old having a good womanly time, and damn the consequences. The music is loud, country inspired and the lyrics are catchy and infectious.

Another track on the album I really enjoyed is the breakout hit of Here For The Party, Redneck Woman. Brutally honest and dare I say refreshing, with more then a twinge of rebellion Redneck Woman is fun trip into the soul of Wilson with a beat that pulls real hard on the foot. At first I didn’t like the message of the song, but after listening several time, I decided I was being much too serious; it is after only a song, and a darn good one at that. I suppose you have to admire Wilson for owning who she is without a morsel of regret or apology.

Redneck Woman (Partial Lyrics)

Well I ain't never
Been the barbie doll type
No I can't swig that sweet champagne
I'd rather drink beer all night
In a tavern or in a honky tonk
Or on a 4 wheel drive tailgate
I've got posters on my wall of Skynard, Kid and Strait
Some people look down on me
But I don't give a rip
I'll stand barefooted in my own front yard with a baby on my hip

Cause I'm a redneck woman
And I ain't no high class broad
I'm just a product of my raisin'
And I say "hey y'all" and "Yee Haw"
And I keep my Christmas lights on, on my front porch all year long
And I know all the words to every Charlie Daniels song
So here's to all my sisters out there keepin' it country
Let me get a big "Hell Yeah" from the redneck girls like me
Hell Yeah
Hell Yeah

Victoria's Secret
Well their stuff's real nice
Oh but I can buy the same damn thing on a Wal*Mart shelf half price
And still look sexy
Just as sexy
As those models on TV
No I don't need no designer tag to make my man want me
You might think I'm trashy
A little too hard core
But get in my neck of the woods
I'm just the girl next door

Hey I'm redneck woman
And I ain't no high class broad
I'm just a product of my raisin'
And I say "hey y'all" and "Yee Haw"
And I keep my Christmas lights on, on my front porch all year long
And I know all the words to every Tanya Tucker song
So here's to all my sisters out there keeping it country
Let me get a big "Hell Yeah" from the redneck girls like me
Hell Yeah


On track six Chariot, Gretchen amazingly tries her hand at Rap, and the effort falls flat; indeed many of the words in the rap sequence are largely indiscernible because the vocals are bounce from one speaker to the other, and overall the song made little sense to me. I do not know what she was trying for in this track, what the message was, or is, but I did not like the tune.

I did somewhat enjoy track seven, What Happened, the song is simple and the message of betrayal is one we can all relate to. Here Wilson’s voice is quiet, respectful of the material but the weaknesses in her vocals are painfully obvious; she really never owns the song, there was no soul, no emotional connection.

As in all Country music, the instrumentation is without peer. The music in this genre is what initially attracted me to it. There is real talent here cultivated in the heartland and played with a richness that speaks to the soul. Who can resist the fiddle, slide guitar, and piano played with such honesty?

Conclusion

I know my opinion of the album is in the minority, and even though I am a fan of the genre, overall Here For The Party didn’t do for me., didn’t call to me, didn’t call to me. But hey, she is the one with the Grammy Award, whether I think she deserves it or not is immaterial; I still sing in the shower, in the car, and at friends’ parties, what do I really know? In the final analysis, the mixture of good and bad tracks on Here For The Party makes a firm recommendation problematic; it didn’t work for me, but for you it might ring true.

Track Listing

Here For The Party
Redneck Woman
When I Think About Cheating
Home Wrecker
Holdin’ You
Chariot
What Happened
When It Rains
The Bed
Pocahontas Proud



Recommended:
No

Great Music to Play While: Driving

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More Here for the Party reviews
review by . April 04, 2005
posted in Music Matters
When "Redneck Woman" burst onto the scene, full of noise and pop, I thought to myself, "Here we go again. Nashville attempts to reignite the fire started by Garth over a decade ago." "Redneck Woman" and "Here For The Party" have plastic, radio-ready written all over them. Naturally, these songs took off with the masses and Ms. Wilson was instantly an "outlaw" performer. It made me sick. I thought we were going to have to sit through more fabricated fluff.    Fortunately, Wilson …
review by . January 01, 2005
Pros: Nice mix, good vocals, good music     Cons: >>>>>>>>     The Bottom Line: Thanks Gretchen for realizing we aren't all Barbie dolls     There are lots of things you can say about this chick and most of them would be good. Sure she’s nasty, gritty, and just a tad bit bad - and that’s wrong??? I don’t think so. She can belt out a song, and put out some pretty sweet videos too, she’s loud and in …
review by . May 26, 2004
posted in Music Matters
I am not a fan of country music. It's just something I really haven't enjoyed listening to in the past. Every once in awhile I hear a country tune that I enjoy, but for the most part I don't like listening to that style of music. However, I grew up not too far from Pocahontas, Illinois and "Here For the Party" is one of the biggest things to happen in my old stomping grounds in a long time. So, I decided I would both support the local girl done good and find out what all the fuss is about. I was …
About the reviewer
Vincent Martin ()
Ranked #188
I am an IT Professional and have worked in the industry for over 20 years. I may be a computer geek, but I also like reading, writing, cooking, music, current events and regretfully, politics.
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Wiki

Her mother was 16 when she had her, and her father moved on when she was two. By the age of 15, with a double-barrel shotgun always at the ready, she was managing a kicker bar in rural Illinois where the corn fields meet the pig farms. That gave Gretchen Wilson something to sing about, with attitude in spades. "You might think I'm trashy, a little too hardcore," she admits on the smash single "Redneck Woman," "but in my neck of the woods I'm just the girl next door." Wilson, already the toast of Nashville before this full-length debut hit the shelves, isn't just putting the trailer park back into country music--she's the antidote toShaniaandFaith. Nothing here sounds manufactured or studied, and the best songs are those she wrote. If most of those spotlight the fightin' side that has made "Redneck Woman" an anthem with blue-collar babes, she lets her vulnerability show on her choice of covers, particularly Leslie Satcher's gospel-rap of "Chariot" and the marital weeper "The Bed." Whatever you think of Wilson, who packs a hint ofSammi SmithandAllison Moorer--and evenJanis Joplin--into her double-fisted delivery, you won't forget her. Move over,Loretta. Make way,Tanya. Here's another good ol' honky-tonk girl.--Alanna Nash
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Details

Label: Sony
Artist: Gretchen Wilson
Release Date: May 11, 2004

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