Sometimes it’s a shame that too often business and politics can serve as a wall between music and its listeners, especially when it concerns new artists. If a single fails to make a big enough impact on the charts, an entire album can either be scrapped or shelved by the label and may never see the light of day. As a result, listeners are missing out on some fantastic music by some of the genres finest artists.
Skyville Records’ flagship artist, Stealing Angels, could be one of those impacted by the politics of the industry. The group’s first two singles, “He Better Be Dead” and “Paper Heart,” both failed to reach the top 40 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, which has delayed the release of their self-titled debut album. That album, which features 13 songs, is one of the best I’ve heard this year, which is why it’s a shame there’s a chance it won’t be heard by the masses.
For the album, the trio brought on Skyville Records founder Paul Worley (who has produced albums for successful country groups Lady Antebellum and the Dixie Chicks) as the project’s producer. Worley once again shows off his artistic genius by mixing everything from traditional country, bluegrass, pop, and a little swing to create one of the most unique sounding albums for the trio.
The album kicks off with the fantastic pop ballad “Paper Heart,” which uses paper as a metaphor to describe the narrator’s heart. “I wish somebody told me I would light up, and in a second I would turn to ash…I wish somebody told me I would roll up into a little ball that you could throw away, if I would’ve known I would’ve fold up into a 747 airplane,” sings the narrator as she describes how easily her heart could be broken. She also reflects on how she would’ve done things different had she known what was going to happen (“should’ve paid attention to the state of my condition before I kissed you that way”).
“Paper Heart” is just one example of the outstanding songwriting included on an album that covers plenty of country’s most performed themes. Songs about heartache and breakups (“Paper Heart,” “Girls Gotcha Back”), a woman scorned (“He Better Be Dead”), and a little drinking (“If I Smoked”) all make an appearance on this album. Out of the 13 songs included on the album, at least one member of the trio helped write 11 songs, which proves just how talented Caroline Cutbirth, Tayla Lynn, and Jennifer Wayne really are.
However, it’s one of the two songs that the group didn’t have a hand in writing that is the album’s highlight. “I Wanna Be Married,” penned by Paul Kennerley and Al Anderson, is a fun, flirtatious ditty that finds the girls wishing they could be married yet single at the same time. The song’s production is what makes it such a standout. Worley somehow manages to include bluegrass, swing, and a little mainstream country to make what is probably the best production I’ve heard this year. Filled with plenty of fiddle, steel, and banjo, this is the best two stepping song I’ve heard in quite some time. The trio delivers a fun, silly vocal performance that shows off their personalities well.
In fact, the entire album is filled with incredible vocal performances. This album serves as a platform for the trio to show off their diverse vocal abilities. They use songs like “Lord, Don’t Give Up on Me” and “Oh Crazy Me” to deliver tender, subdued vocal performances while “Lightning in a Bottle” and “If I Smoked” are used to deliver their more sassy, and attitude laden styling. The group’s bread and butter though are their incredible harmonies. Each member’s voice compliments the other two beautifully to deliver the best harmonies from an all-female trio since the Dixie Chicks were in their prime.
It seems like Stealing Angels may have a big mountain to climb before this album gets released, but they should be proud that they’ve produced one of the most creative albums this year. I hope we get to hear more from this talented trio in the future. In the meantime, this album will definitely remain on repeat for a while.