As mentioned in the Scotty McCreery review, Lauren Alaina is the other country artist to come out of the tenth season of American Idol. Taking second, Lauren released her debut album a week after McCreery and both artists show a lot of promise. I am sure it is no coincidence either that Alaina's album was released on the same day as Martina McBride's: Lauren made her debut to the country world by being introduced by McBride at CMA Music Fest this year, where they performed Martina's hit "Anyway".
Alaina is just sixteen years old, but her powerful voice lends a maturity to her coming-of-age songs that we did not find in Taylor Swift's early releases. Because of this Lauren has a chance to surpass Swift, maybe not in quantity, but in quality.
Georgia Peaches - At sixteen, most would expect Alaina to lead off the album with something safe about home, and she does. Few would expect a rocker song a la Carrie Underwood or Miranda Lambert. Alaina does this too (albeit without the bitterness of heartbreak that Carrie and Miranda do so well). What results is probably the catchiest song on the album. Georgia Peaches is a fantastic introduction to Lauren, and is already the second single from the album. This one could easily crack the top ten on the charts.
Growing Her Wings - Another upbeat song while avoiding mixing in too much pop. The song is the first of many songs about growing up as a teenage girl that show up on this album. "Wings" is about a girl whose parents are afraid to let her soar the way she wants to. "They got her whole life on lock down/ Doing time behind her bedroom door/ I guess it's alright for right now/ but outside her window there's so much more"
Tupolo - Alaina slows it down a bit for "Tupelo" and adds a bit of a tropical type beat to it. The song is nothing new, as many artists have sung about young love, driving in a car or truck, just getting away for a bit. That said, the song serves as a great way for Alaina to transition to slower tracks and adds a little bit of depth to her repertoire of singing skills.
The Middle - "Middle" is a song full of great advice. It opens with reminiscing, most likely on someone's advice who has passed. The meat of the song is about making each moment count. Our gravestones have two dates, birth and death. But as the song says "The beginning and the end mean so little/ What matters most is what's in the middle". The song is as slow as you can expect it to be, and adds to the range of Alaina's voice.
Like My Mother Does - The first single to come from the album, "Like My Mother Does" is a beautifully written song about how much she is like her mama. The singer is okay with this though, because that is exactly who she wants to be. It is also a great opportunity for Lauren to show her pipes, as she channels Martina McBride and belts out some long high notes. Enjoy the video:
She's A Wildflower - Another coming-of-age song about trying to find her place in the world, "Wildflower" picks up the pace into what is definitely Alaina's comfort zone. The song does not stand out in the country world, as many have done this type of song, but Alaina owns it.
I'm Not One Of Them - Alaina continues her sassy girl image with a song that a lot of girls should listen to and take to heart. "One Of Them" is a song about having respect for yourself as a woman instead of chasing after guys with a flashy smile and big wallet. Find someone who is worth your time and gives you something back. "You're gonna have to do better than that/ If you want my love/ You've got to give me some back/ Give me something real/ Not another come on/ Baby Come on/ There's a lot of girls who might just fall for what you got/ But I'm not one of them". This song should definitely follow "Georgia Peaches" as a single.
The Locket - Alaina does a fantastic job of telling a story. This song, which sounds like the movie "The Notebook" in song form. This song just might bring a tear to your eye as you listen to the tail of lifelong love. The simple music gives Lauren a chance to show off her vocal ability in a moving way.
Eighteen Inches - Another example of great storytelling, "Eighteen Inches" is about a girl who runs away with her boyfriend to California. The title refers to how disconnected logic and emotion are: "'Cause when you're young and in love, yeah/ You might do some things/ That don't seem all that smart/ 'Cause there ain't no greater distance than the/ Eighteen inches from your head to your heart"
One Of Those Boys - The guys version of "I'm Not One Of Them", "Boys" is about the perfect guy in Alaina's eyes. She describes him as country, wanting to have fun, but respectful to her and her father. "He ain't gotta have money or a brand new truck/ But he better shake my daddy's hand/ When he comes to pick me up/ Gotta be a little reckless, a whole lotta fun/ And he's gotta know my midnight curfew/ Don't mean 12:01".
Funny Thing About Love - The only song on the album that Alaina helped to write, "Funny Thing" is about how love never makes sense. Lauren opens with "You used to want me/ But I didn't want you/ And now I want you, oh/ But you don't want me". I can think of several times I have wondered about why love does not make sense, and I am sure everyone will relate to this song.
Dirt Road Prayer - Alaina wraps up the album with a slow song about where she can always turn when she is overwhelmed or needs advice, to God. Lauren prays for her family members before turning to herself, asking to make the time go slower as life has been flying, and praying for guidance over the boy she thinks might be the one. The song is a beautiful way to end the album, and contrasts perfectly with how it opened, demonstrating the wide range of abilities Alaina has.
"Wildflower" is definitely one of the best debut album's I have heard in a long time. The vocal ability makes one sometimes wonder how she finished runner-up in American Idol. Either way, those die-hard country fans who are worried about the future of country music need look no further than Lauren Alaina and Scotty McCreery to see that the future is in safe hands. 8/10