A familiar face on the Texas music scene, Jamie Lin Wilson has put forth a collection of story songs vividly detailing the lives and experiences of real people on her wonderful full length debut, Holidays and Wedding Rings. With a voice so familiar and so undeniably real, Wilson conveys a myriad of emotions in personal, identifiable and thoughtful songs. Her striking voice, somehow always soothing, evokes honest emotions from comfort, to love and hope, to utter sadness on songs dealing with heartache, love, life and death. Holidays and Wedding Rings is a record where lyrics, melody and voice unite into a perfect triad.
The twelve track release begins with “Just Like Heartache,” a song in which the happy go lucky melody contrasts the heartache and loneliness of the lyrics. “Oh, I don’t wanna be lonely/Do you think that you could hold me til the worse is over.” Co-written with Dani Flowers, the thumping drum intro of “She’ll Take Tonight” delves into the heart of a lost and lonely, yet optimistic female who, despite one night stands is “hoping for a kinder and gentle man.” It’s a song where you’ll genuinely feel for the character and hope that she does find someone who will give her something lasting. Similarly on the western flaired “Nighttime Blues,” she encourages a guy to stop trying to “hide your pride behind a highball glass and sleeping pills” and simply take the initiative with a female in hopes of weeding out the loneliness.
A relationship ended and a home now in disarray are the focus of “You Left My Chair.” Co-written with Adam Hood and Jason Eady, the song, wistful and deliberate, contains the striking line, “when you leave things alone, it’s a wonder they survive,” reminding us that marriage needs tending by both parties for it to survive and thrive.
A palpable hurt is felt on “Just Some Things” Wilson’s duet with Wade Bowen in which both parties have done something they regret, but are unable to take back. Their vocals complement one another well, with both conveying a quiet devastation. “It’s like running for the edge and thinking you’ll fly/Knowing damn well that it’s suicide.”
With its sparse instrumentation and placid vocals, the simple, soft “Whisper On My Skin” will bring tears to your eyes. On the cheating ballad “Roses by The Dozen” she sings, calmly and confidently, “the things about forgiveness it ain’t coming from my lips…but you know silence is made of gold,” while harmonica plays prominently in “Seven Year Drought," which compares a weather related drought to an emotional one.
The record’s title comes from a line in “Moving Along” an up tempo, delightful tune about identifying one’s priorities and making sure they don’t slip down the ladder of importance. “I’m finding out as I go along that I’m not too smart and I’m always wrong, but I do believe that I’m getting stronger.” The bluegrass “Yours and Mine” celebrates a home built together, even if it’s not a “scene from Home and Garden magazine.” It’s love, it’s joy, it’s perfect.
Reflecting on a life of fifty years together, the quiet “Here Tonight” chronicles an older woman’s life as she prepares for death. “I don’t need your sympathy, but I sure like your company today/So just sit here and talk to me ‘cause I believe I’ll have to go away.”
An ode to family life, “Old Oldsmobile,” closes the album on a perfectly reflective, and cheerful, note. As with much of the album, the song points to Wilson’s ability as a songwriter to take an everyday object and connect it with a deeper emotion. Just like a chair and a house, the car symbolizes the unconditional love of a husband and wife, of a family. It’s a reminder of what’s important to her and really, what we should all hold close.