Jaime Wyatt: Neon Cross (New West Records) Album Review
Reviewed by Mae Hunt
Jaime Wyatt’s Neon Cross, recently released at the end of May, is simply spectacular. The bluesy album begins with Sweet Mess, an intense piano ballad that highlights Wyatt’s powerful voice. This track shares Wyatt’s raw emotions in the wake of a crumbling relationship. The undeniable abandonment and sorrow in her voice set the tone for the rest of the album. Throughout the 11 tracks, Wyatt details the raw emotions tied to overcoming personal battles and the empowering independence that follows. Though an arduous journey, her ultimate destination is self-discovery and self-acceptance.
I would be remiss not to mention all Wyatt has overcome, including a heroine addiction, jail time, and coming out as gay. Many of her battles clearly fuel the album, as she connects each track to her personal experiences. Personally, I think the autobiographical element of the album is what makes it so powerful. Wyatt draws on individual experiences to create raw, emotional, and moving lyrics paired with instrumentals ranging from melancholy to crashing.
InMercy, Wyatt yet again shows off her vocals in a gut-wrenching plea for compassion. Her voice nearly breaking, she cries, “Mercy, I need Mercy…Mercy, don’t try to hurt me.” The song seems to be written from rock bottom in an almost-prayer for someone to offer her refuge. In the more hopefulL I V I N, she reflects on her challenges and seems to yearn for a way out of her challenged life. In this twangy (and slightly sassy) track Wyatt sings her heart out while instrumentals strum along in the background, creating arguably one of the catchiest songs on the album.
Despite the heavy nature of the lyrics, Wyatt offers listeners plenty catchy, toe-tapping beats. InMake Something Outta Me, a country rock track, Wyatt aspires for more with her life, announcing: “If god made a world out of nothing, why can’t he make something out of me?” Similarly, the upbeat and hoppyRattlesnake Girlis another one of my favorites. This edgy track is essentially Wyatt’s way of coming out publicly to the world: “I see my sweet friends out on the weekends, they all look happy and gay. They keep their secrets all covered in sequins, people have too much to say.” This song, manifesting the honky tonk spirit, is sung with pride as she declares her true identity.
The incorporation of personal experiences into the album continues.Just a Womanbegins with a slow drawl and turns into an empowering ballad sung with country musician Jessi Colter. This song speaks to the experience of being a woman not only in the music industry, but in her day-to-day life. She says: “There is no man in this world I would rather be.”
Finally, Neon Cross is the anthem that solidifies the album. In this upbeat and banjo-driven song, Wyatt declares her devotion to living her truest life, regardless of what others think. So devoted, in fact, that she is willing to be hung on a neon cross for it. Like inMercyandL I V I N, there are evident references to Christ, but Wyatt replaces the wooden cross with a neon one. She is defiant, stubborn, and authentic. Though her battles have been burdensome, they have shaped Wyatt into who she is today, and she seems unwilling to be anyone other than her unique self.