By Emily Wagner
Hailey Whitters is an artist. An artist. How it took Nashville and the rest of the country world, over 10 years to give this girl her due, I’ll never know. But finally we have it, the entire album, appropriately titled The Dream and it exceeds the extremely high expectations I had, and also is garnering tons of high reviews from all over the music scene.
The album begins with “Ten Year Town” which is a small introduction to who Hailey is as an artist and a person, and her perseverance not only in making it in Nashville, but making it and still being the artist she wants to be. From there, the album takes off. Launching us into songs that are creative, haunting, and nostalgic.
As maybe sad and hopeless as “Ten Year Town” is, the very next song on the album, “The Days” doesn’t let Hailey wallow in her self pity. The song is free-spirited and uplifting, reminding the listeners, and herself to appreciate the day and make sure it’s not wasted.
The first song that hooked me as a listener was “Heartland” a song that stands as a reminder to give yourself a little grace when life doesn’t seem to let up. In fact, Hailey seems to weave a thread of that statement, whether it’s in “Dream, Girl” which drives home, knowing your own self worth, to not settle as “you’re someone else’s dream girl;” or “Living the Dream” which describes how big or small a dream can be. It can be a small apartment you call your own or finding the beauty in failing because it leads you to something even better.
The album offers a handful of painful breakup songs, like “The Faker” a daunting and vulnerable song, about falling for the guy who is nothing but smoke and mirrors, that Whitters arranges with just her guitar. “Loose Strings” take a different approach, recognizing that both people in the relationship bring out the worst in each other, whereas “Red Wine & Blue” is a perfect song to help you wallow in your sadness. It speaks of high expectations and disappointment, confusion and acceptance. Just let Hailey’s voice carry you through the melancholy lyrics.
It’s easy to see that “Janice at the Hotel Bar” is the song that jumps off the album. Maybe it’s because we all know a ‘Janice’ in our lives, but the song is instantly comforting and familiar, a song that maybe reminds you of your childhood, but your parents could say the same thing. Whitters wrote the song with the legend that is Lori McKenna and if that’s not enough to get you to listen to it, know the song has genius lyrics, like “she’ll take a vodka over dessert, sugar goes straight to your hips” and “keep your chin up, but every once in a while, have a good cry.” If there was a class on how to write good country music, this song would be the example to copy.
The album has many hidden gems, like “Happy People” a boot, taping, go-lucky song that turns the title around and becomes more of a demand-do whatever makes you happy. “The Devil Always Made Me Think Twice” is a fun, swampy, twanging song, that would be the bi-product of mixing Blake Shelton’s “God’s Country” and Carrie Underwood’s “Choctaw County Affair.”
Musically “All The Cool Girls” stands out as sounding completely different from anything else on the album, but not feeling out of place. I would love to hear Hailey’s inspiration behind the song and her interpretation. Is it reflection of how Whitter’s views the women who have found success in Nashville, the pressures put on women in general in the country music arena? Or is it as simple as realizing maybe those “cool” people in your life really don’t have it all, as it may seem.
Regardless, the song is igniting. In fact the whole album is, and I’m so glad Hailey Whitters now has a voice in Nashville and is creating inspiring music with it.