Jaime Wyatt, "Felony Blues" (Forty Below)
Jaime Wyatt didn't have to sing a flawless cover of the Merle Haggard classic, "Misery and Gin," at the end of her new album to prove that she's lived a little bit.
But she did, and she has. It's written all over everything she does.
It isn't just the seven songs the 31-year old delivers with gusto on "Felony Blues," her second album and first in more than a decade. Wyatt's work tacks back and forth between gorgeous balladry and straight-ahead Southern California country-rock. Think Linda Ronstadt during her Stone Poneys period and for a decade or so after, when she ruled the pop airwaves.
With Wyatt, though, the edges are serrated, the polish missing. The result is as authentic as anything you'll find in modern country.
Whether she's singing about the need to graduate so she can pursue a romance with someone in prison on "Wasco," or her tendency to drift away on "From Outer Space," Wyatt brings urgency to her work. And as soon as you think she's settled in as an outlaw country diva, she turns around and drops a gorgeous ballad called "Giving Back the Best of Me."
A blazing talent, Wyatt got her first record deal at the age of 17 but developed a drug problem and spent a little time in jail. Music helped her survive.
"I stayed out of trouble most of the time in jail, by singing songs for people and making them laugh," she says.
Now, on the outside, she's making them listen.