Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
A fresh new voice who sings from the heart. That is what Jaime Wyatt is all about. Thankfully, she doesn’t sing with that pop country affectation that makes me want to punch my fist through a plate glass window. No, there is nothing fake about Miss Wyatt. The title, Felony Blues is a reference to her time in prison. She served eight months for robbery. She is not necessarily proud of her stint in prison, but she acknowledges it as a part of her past. Her reasoning for calling the seven track album Felony Blues was to shine a light on prisoners so they are not forgotten.
Two of the seven songs are written specifically about Wyatt’s prison experience. Stone Hotel (Track 6), which starts off a bit like a Waylon Jennings song, tells the story about how tough prison life is. Constantly walking on eggshells and trying to survive. This song reminds us that prison is a scary and violent place. Wyatt was able to survive her prison sentence by singing for people and making people laugh.
The other prison song, Wasco (Track 4) is a little bit more lighthearted and is about Jaime’s bunkmate planning a wedding from prison with her fiance, who was serving time in Wasco. Jaime stated that helping to plan the wedding was an escape and helped to make the time behind bars go a little faster. She admitted that she didn’t know if the wedding ever took place. Nonetheless, it was a much needed distraction.
Misery And Gin (Track 7) is a Merle Haggard cover and is executed with total perfection. It is a precarious undertaking to mess with a classic, but Wyatt is able to be true to the original while letting her own style shine through. Her powerful voice is truly captivating and is persuasive in making this song her own. It was no accident that she picked a Haggard song to cover, since he also did time and was able to overcome his past and have a very successful career.
Wyatt’s voice is very refreshing and harkens back to the country stylings of the late 60s and 70s. It will be a perfect accompaniment when listening to Nikki Lane, Margo Price, and Sturgill Simpson. It is another reminder that real country music is alive and well.