Gretchen Wilson – Here For The Party (2004): Review

Produced by Joe Scaife,Mark Wright,John Rich (associate producer)
Label – Epic Nashville

When “Here For The Party” was released in 2004, at 30 Gretchen Wilson had paid her country dues, had a lifetime of experiences and could belt out a tune with a swagger and defiance that at least separated her from most of the sickly sweet singers of her genre. The attitude she shows is genuine, and reflects a tough life as her single mother travelled from one Illinois trailer park to the next to avoid the rent chasers. Having reached an education level that finished at eighth grade she left to start earning her keep in bars and restaurants. At 15, and living on her own she managed a roughneck drinking den with a double barrel shotgun for company. It was from here that she began to pursue her singer/song writing career and many of the reflections of her past are vividly recorded on this collection. In many ways it’s a triumph that she got this far, and she undoubtedly has every right to celebrate this achievement on the closer “Pocahontas Proud”. Wilson’s lyrics are often blunt, occasionally witty, almost self effacing at times, but always honest.

Opening with the bar room chug of “Here For The Party”, Wilson announces herself in no uncertain terms. “Well, I’m an eight ball shooting double fisted drinking son of a gun, I wear my jeans a little tight, just to watch the little boys come undone” is as good a calling card for a hardened redneck woman you’re ever likely to hear. The major hit “Redneck Woman” delivers just about every vocal cliché for hard livin’ southern women one could possibly muster in a three minute tune, and the good old gals roar “Hell Yeah” in approval. The major flaw with the album isn’t Wilson’s songs or indeed her powerful holler, but the ultra safe traditional country rock backing that seems to neutralize all the raw and direct sentiment of the lyrics. Obviously geared towards mainstream pop accessibility, harder edges are smoothed down to sound like a wishy washy Shania Twain pastiche. The yearning for chart modernity for the amateurish “rap” she delivers on “Chariot” is both senseless and meaningless in equal measure.

“Here For The Party” probably sounds great in the live surroundings of a beer swillin’ bar, but on record the producers Mark Wright and Joe Scaife have diluted much of the vigour and raw appeal of Wilson’s performance into a country rock record that could have been a much longer lasting proposition.


Track Listing
1 – Here For The Party 7
2 – Redneck Woman 6
3 – When I Think About Cheatin’ 6
4 – Homewrecker 6
5 – Holdin’ You 6
6 – Chariot 4
7 – What Happened 6
8 – When It Rains 5
9 – The Bed 5
10 – Pocahontas Proud 6

When I Think About Cheatin’

Here For The Party



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