A familiar voice on the Texas music scene, Jamie Lin Wilson has been making music for quite some time, first as a member of The Gougers and then as a part of the all female quartet, The Trishas. On May 19th, she released her first full length album, Holidays & Wedding Rings. The album, a collection of twelve personal yet universal songs that highlight love, heartbreak and family, showcases Wilson's ability as a songwriter to connect with the listener through voice, lyrics and melody. The busy mom of three graciously took the time to talk about the album, keeping family a priority and more.
Congratulations on the release of the lovely Holidays & Wedding Rings. How exciting must it be to have finally released your first full length solo record?
Man, it is such a relief. I think that’s the word that I’m looking for (laughing). It’s very, very exciting, which is an understatement because I’ve been waiting for this day for so long. I’ve had the record in the can since October, but I had a baby at the end of August and I could not physically release it until….right about now (laughing). I’ve been waiting for everybody to hear it, and what makes it even better is that people seem to like it.
The album was funded via a Pledge Music campaign. How did you find taking that route to make an album?
It was really, really good. It was nerve wracking for real (laughing), because if you don’t get all of what you have asked for, you get nothing. You have to make sure that you ask for the right amount, that it’s enough so you can do what you need and want to do, but you also have to make sure it’s not too much so that you wouldn’t meet your goal.
It’s also putting yourself out there. It’s one thing to make something and then sell it and say, this is what I’ve made would you like to buy it from me, like past business experiences. In this case you’re asking people to give you money beforehand and put their faith in you that you will make something that they like! This seems to be the way things in the music industry are going right now though. It’s really hard to get people to buy an album after it’s made because you can listen and get it for free. People buy music on iTunes all the time and that’s great, but it’s more and more expensive to make a record and cheaper to get the music after. You have to sell way more albums in order to make what you put into it, but people seem to want to be a part of what you’re doing. It’s nerve wracking to ask people to help, but they want to do it; they want to help you realize your dreams. It was a really, really great experience.
The campaign was over 100% successfully funded, which speaks a lot to your fans and friends.
Yeah it does. And you know what? I sent all of the packages out myself, so I had to physically put in all of the addresses and look at every name; and looking at those names was so cool. There were a lot of people whom I didn’t know, a lot from out of state and even out of the country. Then there were also people whom I grew up with and haven’t seen in many years. It was so nice to see every name and notice every person. I was overwhelmed by the amount of support I got not only from the small town that I live in now but from the small town where I grew up.
Being that you have been involved in music for quite some time, were the songs for this record ones you had in your pocket, ones that you had written recently or a bit of both?
A bit of both. There were a few that were a couple years old, but one in particular, “Moving Along,” the one that has the line in it about holidays and wedding rings that became the title of the record, that song is from before The Trishas. I wrote that song probably in 2009 and it never really got to me. I never sang it out, never pitched it to The Trishas or anything. It just sat on the back burner until I was going through looking for songs for this record. I was just giving everything a chance and I played it again and I was like man, I really like that song, it really rings true for me right now. It’s weird how that happens sometimes. You may write something that doesn’t mean much to you at the time and years later it really fits well, and then it becomes the title track!
I was looking for songs and cover songs to put on this record and was asking Jon Dee Graham for any songs he had that maybe I could sing because I like his style. He was like well, I’ve got all of these, but we could also try to write one. He sent me that idea for “Seven Year Drought” and we wrote it. I‘m so glad we did, because it was exactly what I was needing.
Quite a few of your friends co-wrote songs on the record with you. How does that work, do you have to schedule co-writes like in Nashville or do you write when you’re just hanging out?
At this point, we have to schedule it. I write with Owen [Temple] a bit and we live two hours apart and both have three kids, so we pick a day a month in advance, write it on the calendar, and then check in a few days prior to it. Others are different. I was playing an afternoon gig with Adam [Hood] and Jason [Eady], so we planned to write after that show. Sometimes though, we are hanging out and trying to write, and it works out and sometimes we end up drinking wine all night and not getting anything done (laughing).
Many of the songs on the album are quite personal and positive, but you also do lonely and heartbreak so well. Being that you are happily married, where do you draw from for those types of songs?
Oh thank you. Man, I think everybody has had their share of lonely and heartbreak. Luckily, I am not in that right now, but I have had my share of that to draw from. I also have my friends’ stories and situations. Everyone is happy at the moment, but we talk and hear stories about people’s loneliness and heartbreak and you kind of get inspired by that. Like the song “She’ll Take Tonight,” that song is about one of my friends, whom I really felt for because she was going through a really hard time and couldn’t find a good guy. I met with Dani Flowers in Nashville, at one of those scheduled writes, and told her about my friend. I said that line “she’s hoping for tomorrow, but she’ll take tonight” and we just sat down and wrote that song.
Lyrics, melody and your vocals combine together in your songs to make them just so real. They really not only tell a story, but make the listener feel something.
I always wanted my singing, my delivery and my style of writing-the entire thing-to deliver the whole emotion. I like singing obviously, but I don’t like to over-sing and that happens sometimes. It seems that whenever people can do it, they do it. “Whisper On My Skin” and “Here Tonight” are both really sad songs and both of those songs I basically just whispered into the microphone to make it feel really intimate. I wanted to draw people into the song, to have people feel like I’m feeling, especially on those two because they are both really super personal. I like having the melody hang down and not have to go up on the chorus. You don’t have to do those things, you can just sing a song, tell a story and make it really nice.
When I was singing “Yours and Mine” I was like, nine months pregnant and I remember not being very comfortable with my breathing and standing for long periods in the studio. I could only sing two songs a day at that point and I remember my producer saying “You sound super sad singing this really happy song. I know you’re super pregnant and your baby is probably kicking you in the ribs right now, but could you smile when you sing because it’s a happy song. At least try to smile.” I was happy at the time, but maybe I was a little comfortable, so I got some water and smiled when I sang it. And it’s true, if you smile when you sing, it does comes through. It’s so silly when you think about it, but I had to do that and it really did help make the song feel happier.
You have said that you chose the title of the album from a line in “Moving Along.” "How I miss the little things/Like holidays and wedding rings." That song, about priorities, seems to reflect where you are in life right now, balancing family and career.
We were married five years before we had kids and whenever I think back to those times, I’m like, I really did not make the right decisions. I was in The Gougers and The Trishas, so I didn’t really get to make all of the decisions. I got to be part of the decision making, but if there was a gig on Christmas Eve, there was a gig on Christmas Eve and that was how it went. For example, yesterday I was over at a family member’s house and everyone was talking and telling stories about a wedding they were all at and I wasn’t. I was at a gig. Now, do I remember what show I was at? No, so it obviously wasn’t that important and they’re telling stories about this wedding that was important, that I should have been at. I just don’t want to do that anymore. It is really hard to find that balance but in thirty years when we’re sitting around the table drinking wine and talking with the kids, it’s going be great to say remember when we all went somewhere or did something together.
As a professional and married mother of three, how do you set priorities and find that balance?
I really do have a great support system in my small town. There are about six hundred people here and half are probably related to my husband and the other half are good friends. People help me out by watching the kids or running errands for me. My husband is great too, he does anything I need him to do and my mom as well. She comes out on the road with me a lot plus I’ve got babysitters in every major city in Texas!
I learned very quickly that the five hour trip to Dallas turns into seven or eight because everyone always has to go potty four times especially when you are in a hurry. So maybe now we leave the night before. The oldest one, who is almost five, started coming to shows with me. She’ll sit on the side of the stage or at the merch table and color or try to help out, which she enjoys. The baby is with me all the time because he needs his momma, but he’s learned very well to sleep in the car seat in the green room. My second daughter used to fall asleep every night by 7:30pm. She never saw me on stage until she was three and then she was like “what’s happening here, why are you up there and why am I not with you?!” (laughing) All of them have their own little things.
Sounds like you have it pretty well covered!
In addition to the title, the cover also conveys the sentiments of home and family. I don’t know if it was intentional, but it seems very grounding, very representative of where your priorities lie.
It was intentional. I wanted to look like a housewife, because that’s what I am. Those are my real clothes, my real shoes and that’s my mother in law’s house. I walk around barefoot, I cook ground beef every day, sweep the floor, and then I load my guitar and banjo and go to a show. That’s my life right now. It wouldn’t have been representative of me to go somewhere and do a rock star photo shoot, that’s not who I am. I sit on the porch in the swing and nurse babies all day long.
The final track, “Old Oldsmobile” also puts things into perspective. Is that why you chose it to close the record?
Yes. In fact, I was sitting on my porch swing when I wrote that song. Going back to the album cover, we took that picture, which we didn’t even know would be the cover, the day before I found out I was pregnant with my third child. The innocence in my eyes in that picture was before I knew (laughing) and two days later I sat on my swing and wrote that song about finding out I was pregnant with number three and that car.
You know, yesterday we had a long day and my husband came home and said “hey, let’s load kids in the Oldsmobile and drive to chicken farm.” I was like, man that sounds like the best idea possible. We saw chickens and everybody came home happy. There’s just something about that car--it puts everyone in a good mood.
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