Rise & Shine
Rise & Shine, the sophomore album by country duo Fanny Grace, is pleasant, well-produced, up tempo, contemporary country-rock with a postfeminist sensibility. Writer/producer/guitarist Paul Reeves and co-writer/lead singer Carmen Meja have turned out a collection of sassy-yet-vulnerable-women-in-pickups songs in the best Dixie Chicks tradition. John Carter Cash (son of the late country legends June Carter and Johnny Cash) produced the album, giving it an extra helping of country-roots cred. (In a nod to Cash’s heritage, the record includes the Johnny Cash-penned “My Cowboy’s Last Ride” and closes with the Carter family classic “The Storms are on the Ocean”)
Nearly all of the songs on the record are written from a female point of view, and the album is most interesting when it explores the thoughts and lives of modern working class women. “Soon Be Home,” the second track, starts off sounding like a standard post-breakup song, but with the mention of the “yellow ribbon on the trunk of my car” it becomes clear that we’re listening to the thoughts of a woman waiting for her man to return from an overseas deployment. In the rocker “Don’t Want it All,” which is maybe the most interesting song on the record, we enter the life of a cash-strapped woman who has to choose between buying a gallon of gas and a gallon of milk (a situation more and more of us have come to relate to in the past few months). The most interesting part of this song is that the flat broke narrator isn’t dreaming of a Stetson-wearing, truck driving Prince Charming to rescue her from counting change to buy groceries; she’s just doing her best to make it through.
None of the songs on this album are groundbreaking, musically or lyrically, and if Reeves and Meja haven’t been directly influenced by the Dixie Chicks (Meja doesn’t quite have Natalie Maines’s earthy sass or vocal range), they sure seem to be following them down the same dirt road, blasting the radio in their own rusty pickup. Still, it’s a pretty fun ride.