Country Jukebox Jury EPs: Tigirlily, Hannah Dasher and Lauren Jenkins

Tigirlily EP

Tigirlily (pronounced TIE GIRL LILY) are two sisters from North Dakota based in the 615 House in Nashville. They spend their days pratting about on TikTok. Looking at Krista’s Twitter profile, the pinned tweet is the tale of a car crash where it seems that wearing a seatbelt saved the lady’s life.

The girls hold Sugarland as a big influence thanks to Jennifer Nettles’s voice (which has never been to my taste) and they fit in with that quirky pop-country aka TikTok Country that the likes of Priscilla Block are having success with and the father-of-six Walker Hayes has suddenly found a market for. Can they turn attention into money with their debut self-titled EP, produced by the magic pair of Luke Laird and Shane McAnally, to whose Monument label both Walker and Tigirlily are signed? I think they can.

My Thang and Everybody’s On Something were both written with Walker, whose own songs are full of bouncy loops, optimism and falsetto. Hence My Thang is bouncy and optimistic, with a really strong melody and a lyric about breaking dreams and picking up pieces. The second verse mentions Tinder. I think I’m too old for the way the sisters throw their voice on occasion but it’s very confessional and of the moment. The other song is about people having their medication, ‘trying to get high above the truth…I just wish my something wasn’t you’.

The girls already have a big audience who will delight in hearing the studio versions of their songs. Indeed, Somebody Does could be seen as a naked appeal for listeners, particularly the 13-25 demographic. ‘I don’t know who needs to hear this,’ the pair sing, in a pick-me-up song that sounds like Oprah or Ellen or a Hallmark card, with the ‘more than enough’ line that is very therapyspeak. That doesn’t make it unnecessary, and it’s a good thing for a listener to hear and it may even save their life.

Dig Yourself is a pop-country version of Love Yourself by Justin Bieber with the added line ‘why don’t you dig yourself a hole!’ I am won over by the strength of the melody and the sisterly harmonies. I suppose that’s what happens when Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne and Trevor Rosen from Old Dominion are in the room.

Known You Forever is the brand new song which hasn’t been trailed. The sound is very similar to that of Priscilla Block, a pop-rock sound that won’t offend anyone. There’s a minute-long outro on a smart song about friendship: ‘Sometimes you know someone who’s known you forever’ is the shoutout to the ‘ones back home’. Again, if country music is the clash between urban and rural, the North Dakota girls have done their homework.

They are in good hands with Shane McAnally and we’ll see them in the UK soon.

Hannah Dasher – The Half Record

What a great title, and there half a vinyl record on the cover. Hannah wrote Brad Paisley’s underrated song Go To Bed Early and Lainey Wilson’s song for Louisiana called LA, so I already know her work without knowing she was the artist. She’s also good friends with Jaren Johnston from The Cadillac Three and Charlie Worsham (whose new EP is out imminently), and her favourite artist is Hank Jr. Apparently Hannah’s Stand By Your Pan cooking show is popular on TikTok. I hope fans of that show check out her outstanding EP.

The two impact tracks were Left Right and Girls Call The Shots. The latter was written by, among others, the Warren Brothers, whose hits include Felt Good on my Lips for Tim McGraw and Red Solo Cup for Toby Keith. They’ve also written a song for Chase Bryant’s new project, more on which next time out.

Left Right (‘Ain’t preachin, I’m just sayin…Get your shit together!’) is a song where Hannah begs the listener to make a decision on love; Ashley McBryde is an obvious comparison here. Girls Call The Shots reminds me of Lainey Wilson’s work, in particular her radio smash Things A Man Oughta Know, and I love the mood of the song whose hook is ‘Guys buy the drinks, girls call the shots’. It’s a three-minute movie that is a good introduction to Hannah’s songwriting.

You’re Gonna Love Me is a self-actualisation song where Hannah lists all the things she is, with references to actor Sam Elliot and Alan Jackson and ‘bad mamajama’ which helpfully rhymes with Hannah. It’ll be the first song in her set and instantly hooks me with its guitars and attitude. I don’t like the word sass but I would like a buck for every time Hannah is called sassy in the next year as she’s rolled out by Sony Music.

Leave This Bar is a punchy, smouldering song that ‘feels like a Friday night should’; the reason to leave the bar is probably coital, with dancing feeling so good it makes you want more. It’s another song with a proper outro, which is nice to hear. Shoes is more understated, a song about a breakup although if Hannah was in the boy’s shoes ‘I’d come running back to me’. You can tell Hannah is a top songwriter because this would be an enormous radio smash.

That is, if country radio actually played more music by people without appendages.

Lauren Jenkins – Miles On Me

Lauren is that rare act who got dropped by Big Machine for poor performance of her debut album, possibly because she lacked an aforementioned appendage. Now independent, her latest project is a four-song EP Miles on Me, which she has co-produced. Like You Found Me was the impact track and chugs along head-noddingly with a melodic chorus that reminds me of a young Sheryl Crow. I am of the opinion that Sheryl Crow is a really significant country artist who, in the 1990s, was marketed as a rock musician because she held a guitar. Lauren would be a great opening act to warm people up for the hits.

She’s a Star (‘You’re caught up in a dream but you got the real thing’) continues the tenor, with great echoing guitars and a drawled delivery with some light keyboards; My Own Advice is a list of things to avoid doing (drinking, smoking, not telling your family you love them) which humorously namechecks her own song (‘giving up the ghost’ reminded me of Give Up The Ghost).

The title track is a duet with cult songwriter David Ramirez on which Lauren caresses the microphone while crooning ‘it was mostly my fault…I’m the only one to blame’ and comparing her heart to an old banger. Thus there are lots of mentions of rear-view mirrors, taking the keys and driving real fast ‘knowing we’d crash’. It’s a songwriting exercise which really pops thanks to the production. Lauren has moved effortlessly from country radio to Americana. Expect to hear her on XM Radio rather than country radio because this music is timeless and is more about art than it is about a return on investment.

Call it return on emotional investment.

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