I come from the country – from the wide open farms and rolling feed yards of Texas anyway – and I ain’t never heard anything like Gina Villalobos. Released by Face West Records, Villalobos’ third album Miles Away scrawls its own existence into alt-country. Villalobos rough-hews away with a sweet intensity and her heart beats in her voice as she sings, “I got aces on my mind” from the track “Tied to My Side,” recalling country giants Willie Nelson, Patty Griffin and Neil Young. Although Villalobos’ songwriting is hardly elementary, there’s something simple and straightforward about her prose.
Most artists share (or try to share) pain in their lyrics and, instead, hang messy break ups and bad relationships and nights of long tears out like dirty laundry. Not Villalobos, a Los Angeles based singer song writer who goes beyond the tear in my beer angst and comes up with a new take on an old theme. She sings to somebody, not about. And if her lyrics resonate with candid anguish, her voice throbs with hope and nostalgia and compassion while she rolls thunder and strums her guitar from a deep dark hole – particularly on the last track, “Somebody Save Me.” Listening to Villalobos’ album is driving down the quiet stretch of highway between Lubbock and Amarillo in an old Mustang convertible, wind whipping my hair, no place to go and no intention of hurrying to get there, because my buddy Gina is fine company.