Jaime Wyatt’s 2017 debut, Felony Blues, may have put her on the radar of a slew of music writers with its solid confessionary lyrics and Outlaw Country vibe, but it’s her latest, Neon Cross, that’s bound to bring her to the attention of the rest of the world. Attention that she so rightfully deserves. In what is destined to be a modern Americana/Country classic, with Neon Cross, Wyatt revels in honky tonk brilliance on songs like “LIVIN” and the acceptance anthem “Rattlesnake Girl,” and just as easily slays with the devastating powerful “Mercy” all in the span of just 11 songs.
In the same way Willie Nelson can bring a room to near silence with “Angel Flying Too Close To The Ground,” and then get that same crowd in a near frenzy with “Whiskey River,” with Neon Cross Wyatt careens in and out of a range of emotions, each with unabashed sincerity. Produced by longtime friend and tour mate Shooter Jennings, there is a focus to this record that is undeniable. Neal Casal – in one of his last recordings before passing away – provides some amazing organ and guitar work throughout the record- and Shooter’s mom, the undisputed Queen of Outlaw Country Jessi Colter, shares vocals with Wyatt on the crushingly powerful feminist anthem “Just a Woman.”
Wyatt has been remarkably frank about the challenges she faced working on this record. Newly sober and publicly out as a gay woman to her family, friends and now her fans for the first time, lyrically, the album is extraordinarily honest and at times vulnerable. But that frankness pays off astonishingly well, thanks in part to Wyatt’s charming distinctively husky vocals and her knack for weaving strong hooks and memorable choruses throughout her songs. The autobiographical “Rattlesnake Girl,” about pride and acceptance, is a perfect example of Wyatt’s deft fusing together of strong lyrics with an unforgettable musical backing.
Wyatt seems to have lived a lifetime in the three years between Felony Blues and Neon Cross. The byproduct is a powerfully affecting album that can speak to just about anyone who’s willing to listen.