Review: Gwendolyn "Bright Light"

The nature-loving San Gabriel, California country girl named Gwendolyn is best described by one simple word: refreshing. With the current crop of over-produced country music fare, it is exhilarating and indeed comforting to hear an artist like Gwendolyn, who lets her voice be the star of the show on her stimulating new album "Bright Light."
Much of Gwendolyn's charm is derived from her pure country voice that has an air of innocence. "Bright Light" begins with the appropriately titled "Discover Me." However, it is the stunning vocal performance on the title track "Bright Light" that will begin to truly entice listeners to yearn for more. The catchy-melodic track is perfectly produced by Ethan Allen (Patty Griffin).

The country quotient rises considerably with the interestingly-titled "Tater Tots And Whiskey Shots," a song that would make legends of country proud. The next cut "Shake A Leg" may be the album's best chance for an Americana or country chart hit. The upbeat song is perfectly performed and will delight fans of traditional country.

The biggest surprise on the 13-song, almost 45 minute album is the sparse "Acorn," which showcases the more thoughtful side of Gwendolyn combined with a winning chorus. "American Gothic" has a cool Barenaked Ladies meets Tori Amos quality that surprisingly works.

The folk/Americana cut "Durango" features some of the album's most prominent production, and Gwendolyn's vocal performance features her more serious side. "Olden Days" has much of the same charm.

"Monster In My Heart" is the most unique song on the album, and it is a fun romp that is immediately followed by the delicate "Sing This Song." The final two tracks are among the best on the album "Bright Light." The cut "Songbird" utilises classic country elements mixed with folk along with Gwendolyn's sweet country voice. However, it is the inspiring final song - the gospel-tinged "Let The Light" - that steals the show. Gwendolyn's voice is in top form, and the production is flawless.

"Bright Light" is a musical tour de force that takes listeners on a journey through the life of a musician that is allowing us to shine a bright light and explore her most intimate thoughts. With beautiful lyrics, stellar production and catchy songs, Gwendolyn's "Bright Lights" is one of the best (and most original) Americana albums of 2011.