Album Review: RaeLynn - "WildHorse"

After nearly five years, RaeLynn delivers a promising debut album.

One of the best things to happen to RaeLynn after her run on The Voice as a teenager is the fact that she was allowed a regular time to develop into the artist we have on WildHorse. After scoring a couple minor hits with her first record label, RaeLynn joined Warner Bros. Nashville and released the raw, vulnerable "Love Triangle" as the lead single from WildHorse, her debut album project. It's an intimate, vulnerable song about being a young person stuck in the middle as their parents go through divorce. This is the artistic side of RaeLynn, a side which was there from the very beginning.

RaeLynn tells an old boyfriend "no" by sending him to voicemail on "Lonely Call," so it's more or less the anti-"Need You Now." Given how many songs have had the "booty call" theme of two lonely hearts not being alone, it's a refreshing change of pace. Meanwhile, "Your Heart" finds RaeLynn inspiring young (and old) listeners everywhere that she's better because of a broken heart than she is valuing herself by the relationship she's in. With some staccato piano and percussive beats blending with vocal harmonies (and interesting guitar later in the song), the title track "Wild Horse" promises that RaeLynn is no paint by numbers kind of woman. She's going to be the artsy, free-spirited girl and will not change to be fit into someone's ideal of who she should be.

As a co-writer of 11 of the 12 tracks on WildHorse, RaeLynn is firmly declaring who she is as an artist. That being said, she smartly chose "The Apple" as her lone outside cut (it was written by album co-producer Nicolle Galyon). It's a song playing on the well-known theme of exotic enticement. It's a place most have been to in their life in one way or another and it suits the overall theme and story of this project. Family plays an important part in RaeLynn's life so it was natural for her to work with her cousin Leeland Mooring, the Grammy-nominated frontman of Leeland. "Young" showcases how family harmonies are naturally tight. A mid-tempo ballad with a powerful chorus, the song feels like a future hit or at least a special concert moment for RaeLynn. Warner Bros label mates Dan+Shay show up for "Say," a sweet song about love reading through what's actually said or not said in a relationship. The melodically moody "Praying For Rain" closes out a strong opening record from RaeLynn, a record which we get to know about who she is, that WildHorse girl who is both a bit of grit and glitter.