We’re only a couple of weeks into 2017 yet here I sit listening to and writing about Puxico, award-winning songwriter Natalie Hemby’s debut album. Released on her own label (GetWrucke Productions) and produced by her award-winning husband Mike Wrucke (Eli Young Band, Miranda Lambert) the record is quite strong for a debut. But in reality, Natalie Hemby is no regular debut artist. With hits in her songwriter catalog for Kelly Clarkson, Little Big Town, Toby Keith, Lady Antebellum, and Miranda Lambert. Actually, Lambert is a good comparison as an artist as are fellow writer/artists Lori McKenna and Brandy Clark.
Originally written about the town where her Grandfather George Hemby is from, Puxico became more about the man himself and and that makes for a strong nine song debut. “Worn” has close to the bone quality to the lyrics and and equally lived-in melody while “This Town Still Talks About You” grooves with a sound which makes it easily the most radio-friendly track on the album (though radio doesn’t seem like it was exactly on Natalie’s mind when she decided to step to center stage with this record). Still, the pulse of the melody drives the story along as Hemby’s naturally melancholic vocal style delivers the lyric of a town still reminiscing about her dearly departed grandfather.
There’s a Cash & Carter-like vibe to “Time Honored Tradition” while “Grand Restoration” is a fantastic story song on an album of fantastic story songs. Like Miranda Lambert’s The Weight Of These Wings, Puxico is a record worthy of your listening time in an era when many albums aren’t worthy of such the time commitment. Each act of the record (it feels like a film in narrative structure) weaving together to tell us all of a pillar in Natalie Hemby’s life, the kind of person we all hope to be.