With immediacy and energy on the opening track “Georgia Peaches,” Lauren Alaina makes it clear that she has studied her country well. Way beyond the city lines, lies a cowboy’s paradise/ honeysuckle on the vine, growing up on Southern time, she sings proudly of her country upbringing. After a quick fiddle hook, she’s giving shout-outs to fellow peach state heroes Alan Jackson and Jason Aldean.
Lauren, runner up on the tenth season of FOX’s singing competition American Idol, was raised on country music in Georgia and auditioned for the show in the center of it all; Nashville, TN. Now, on her debut album Wildflower, the sixteen-year-old showcases her musical roots on a tight collection that features coming of age stories with a need to make her own path.
Through slow acoustic guitars, fiddle and light pedal steel on “The Locket,” Lauren uses her dynamic voice to tell a love story reminiscent of the film The Notebook. Her voice hints at early Carrie Underwood while she sings to a grandmother, You made a promise to the boy inside your locket. On “I’m Not One Of Them,” chunky, pop-hook guitars support her as she displays vocal textures similar to Shania Twain classics like “That Don’t Impress Me Much.” Here, the music has a modern edge and the lyrical content follows suit with lines like, I’m not some notch on your Facebook wall.
Lauren continually makes statements about the need to follow one’s heart. This is most clearly expressed over the twang heavy guitar of “Growing Her Wings.” Through a blend of classic country melody and teenage angst delivery, Lauren sings, She’s dreaming about the girl she’s gonna be, stuck in Rice County, growing her wings to describe a sheltered teenage girl yearning to break free. On the grooving “Tupelo,” acoustic guitars, fiddle and rolling drums set the tone as Lauren sings of a young couple falling in love under the July sun. Her voice takes on Southern soul as a B-3 organ plays lightly in the background.
The album’s first single, “Like My Mother Does,” is a mid-tempo power ballad that allows Lauren to show off her strong voice and steady control. I see myself like my mother does, she sings through the chorus, continually gaining strength. During the song’s climax, Lauren lets it fly as her technical ability is impressive. She’s a rock, she is grace/ She’s my angel, she’s my heart and soul/ She does it all, Lauren sings, holding certain syllables for emphasis.
Wildflower, produced by Byron Gallimore, is a cohesive collection that captures this moment for Lauren. On one hand, she’s a pop celebrity cut from American Idol (in the bright, piano-based pop/country–“The Middle”). On the other, she’s a country singer from Georgia (the 3/4 time “Eighteen Inches” with a classic country twist). And yet, she’s also a teenage girl trying to reconcile fame (in the acoustic ballad “Dirt Road Prayer” that asks the man upstairs to watch over her family while she’s on the road). Wildflower deals with these complex emotions in a way that fits Lauren and shows that not only has she studied up, but she could also tell you a thing or two as well.