[Editor/Author Note: With Kirsty Lee Akers’ latest single, Drive ‘Till the Wheels Fall Off set to be released tomorrow, I thought I’d share this flashback from when I reviewed her chart-topping album, Burn Baby Burn. Originally published by AMNplify.]
Australian country music darling, Kirsty Lee Akers returns with her fourth album Burn Baby Burn.
Akers first appeared on the Australian country music scene in 2007, with her debut record Little Things, which spawned three top 10 singles and an overall position in the top five of the ARIA charts as well as being nominated for two Golden Guitars – no mean feat for any up and coming musician, regardless of genre. In fact, she is the only musician to have won the Toyota Star Maker, Telstra Road to Discovery and a Golden Guitar.Nearly ten years on, she has found success both at home and in the US, where she has worked with some of the best producers and songwriters the industry has to offer to make this release. Her Dolly Parton/Loretta Lynn-esque vocals – for which she became so well known in Australia – have been praised, with Jerry Salley (who has worked with Lynn herself) saying she has the “voice of an angel”.
Burn Baby Burn was my first real introduction to Akers’ music, though I have heard her name around for quite a while. My country music tastes probably veer more towards country-pop rather than straight country so when I read of her comparisons to Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn, I couldn’t help pre-judging this album as one I wouldn’t like.
But when it came to actually listening to the album, I was pleasantly surprised. Sure, there is that Dolly Parton twang there, but as the record progresses, you tend to forget about it and enjoy the music for what it is.Ain’t That Kinda Girl, Leave It To Jesus and When I Miss You Most are the upbeat, rollicking, good-time country ballads many seem to associate with this genre. The latter aforementioned track has already proven its worth as it steadily rises up the CMC charts, sure to hit number one any day now.
While these songs are sure to appeal to hard-core country fans, I’m more partial to Drive Till The Wheels Fall Off and Wake Me Up When You’re Sober which have something of a more rockier edge to it. These are songs you can definitely imagine bopping along to during a road trip, and perhaps even (dare I say it?) fitting in well on mainstream radio as a contrast to those bubble-gum pop songs that are played over and over – a crossover for which Akers has been known for in the past.
On the other end of the spectrum, I Will and album closer Take Me Back showcase a sweeter side to Akers’ vocals, as she strips the songs back to their bare bones. So too, the latter is a gem for those who are suckers for the heartbreaking ballads for which this genre is also notorious. In particular the lyrics “If I take my last breath before you do/just take your time and know that I’ll be waiting for you” tug at the heartstrings and are sure to make even the most cynical listener tear up just a little. Definitely my favourites of all eleven tracks.
In my opinion, Akers has just the right amount of old school and contemporary country sound to appeal to a vast range of listeners and Burn Baby Burn is a collection of eclectic tunes with something for every country music fan.