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With her alt-pop country vibe, Lainey Wilson is breaking outta Music City.

Lainey Wilson asks on her new album WWDD? What would Dolly (Parton that is, in case you live under a rock) do? The Queen of Country is the perfect role model for all, but especially for this up and coming Nashville star. Wilson’s project, Sayin’ What I’m Thinkin’, highlights her powerful yet honeyed vocals, her sassy country twang adorns the honest and hopeful lyrics: “It is music with a message, delivered subtly and humbly.”

Perfectly positioned to be the next big thing to come out of Nashville, for the country aficionado, Lainey Wilson is one to watch. We catch up with the old soul star to find out how she found her bell-bottom country sound and where it’s going to take her to next…

Congratulations on the new album! It is so fantastic. How has the reaction been so far?

It’s been so awesome watching my fans from around the world latch on to specific songs on the record. It’s a songwriter’s dream to make music that people can connect to and that’s what is happening with this album release. The years of hard work are starting to pay off and I don’t take this incredible reaction lightly.

Do you have a favourite track on the record? 

My favourite track (today) is ‘Pipe’! It’s got this fun, live band feel and when I listen to it, it makes me feel like I’m back on stage playing to a crowd full of country music loving folks. It’s got this funky bass line that really kicks in in the second verse and you kinda can’t help but bob your head and groove to it.  I would consider ‘Pipe’ my “redneck rule book” – it’s a matter-of-fact list of literal and metaphorical pointers on how to deal with whatever life throws at you in a positive and confident fashion. Don’t let the small stuff get you down!

I love the track ‘Dirty Looks’. How do you normally react if someone is giving you a dirty look?

It depends on how many whiskies I’ve had honestly… but I’d probably look behind me to make sure it wasn’t me they were looking at. If there isn’t anyone behind me, I would march my happy ass right on over and ask them if there was a problem. If it was a “miscommunication,” I’d buy them a drink.

I’ve read that the album and some recent music have been written with heartbreak on your mind? Do you find that heartbreak can inspire the best music? 

I get inspiration from a lot of different places, but I think heartbreak almost always ends up being or leading to the most important, pivotal moments in a person’s life. Because of that, I think it ends up inspiring the most relatable music. When your heart is broke, whether it be from a romantic split or a loss of a loved one or rejection, you want to hear from someone who’s been through it too and how they overcame the hardship. It brings you as the listener peace and comfort – “if they got through it, I can too.” I absolutely visit those hard times in my life where I felt like my world was shattering. Of course, I came out of the hurt, but I tap into heartbreak to get the kind of songs I know people need, because I needed those songs too.

You describe your sound as bell-bottom country. How would you define this?

I like to think my music is fresh, but familiar. You can tell I’ve got traditional country influences, but I put my own little twist on it and that’s what Bell Bottom Country is about – it’s country with a flare. It’s what is familiar – who you are and where you’re from – with that extra “sauce” that just makes you, you. I’m a sucker for everything “throwback” – whether it’s fashion, music, or anything sentimental. I feel like things that are “throwback” come with a story… and I am a sucker for a dang good story. Bell Bottom Country is about making your story your own.

The track ‘WWDD’ is great. Who are some of your other idols except Dolly?

I idolize artists like Reba, Shania Twain, Buck Owens, Bob Seger, Eric Church… the list goes on. I am drawn to these artists because of the big statement they make with just their delivery. Of course, their lyrics and melodies are out of this world, but I love the way they make me believe every single word they say.

If you could collaborate with any musician in the future, who would it be and why?

Eric Church. He is bad to the bone. He knows who he is. He knows what he wants to say. He knows how he wants to say it. Eric Church doesn’t try to be the “cool kid”, he just is. He goes against the grain confidently and unapologetically. I am manifesting it right now! I WILL collaborate with The Chief.

Where do you hope to be in the next year?

It’s amazing the amount of ground you can cover in one year. I’m planning to hopefully be back on the road this summer, getting to know my new fans, and catching up with the ones who have been around a while. I’ve written A LOT of songs over the past year too so I’m gonna test some new ones out at upcoming shows and find time to get back in the studio between gigs and get to work on the next record so I can keep making music that makes a difference and at the very least makes people feel good.

The next 5 years?

In the next five years, I see myself paving the way for more artists who are trying to do something “different”. I want to be in a position to support and extend a hand to younger artists I believe in the way artists like Ashley McBryde has done for me. It’s all about paying it forward. I see myself still loving every second of my job and being grateful for every opportunity thrown my way. I’ve never been the kind of person to be completely satisfied with my situation. I’m thankful for every steppingstone and every chapter, I celebrate every milestone, but once it has soaked in, I’m always like “okay, awesome…what’s next??” I’ve just got a whole lot I want to accomplish in life.

Press play on Lainey Wilson’s new album, Sayin’ What I’m Thinkin’, below now.

Words by Tori Sharp

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