Country Jukebox Jury EPs: Lily Rose, Emilia Quinn and Erin Enderlin

Lily Rose – Stronger Than I Am EP

Signed to Big Loud, Lily has been building fans throughout the year with her songs Villain, where she agrees to take the blame if that’s what makes her ex happy, and the melodically strong Remind Me of You, the latter written by four writers including Sam Hunt and ERNEST. Well done to Big Loud for letting a woman sing how ‘she don’t remind me of you’.

Joey Moi, who helped sculpt first Florida Georgia Line’s sound then Morgan Wallen’s, has kept the guitars in the mix along with contemporary sonic beds across the tracks.

As is the case with new acts, songs have been plucked off the shelves for her. We’ve also heard both I Don’t Smoke and Stronger Than I Am, pieces of self-actualisation and keeping on’ through despair. The syncopated delivery on the former makes me think of both Hunt and Wallen, while the melodic chorus (over digital drums) sounds like country radio. It’ll do well live, even if the chorus is a double negative, as Lily Rose finds new ways to say ‘You know I will’.

Lily Rose co-writes the final three songs on the EP: Know My Way Around, written with One Direction and Thomas Rhett collaborator Julian Bunetta and seemingly putting Lily’s life in a song; Breakin’ In opens with a verse where Lily wants to move on ‘breakin’ in this broken heart’, which seems a mixed metaphor because you break in NEW shoes, not old ones; and Whole Lotta Hometowns, a country-by-numbers tune that would have had Keith Urban-style production in 2002 but now has digital cymbals and all the modern trappings of country music.

It’s a great voice and Lily can direct her career to her liking, helped by the people who made Morgan Wallen ‘too big to fail’.

Emilia Quinn – Medicate EP

English singer Emilia told Lyric Magazine that she cried while recording the four tracks on her new EP. The tears were ‘closure’, of ‘being able to let go’ of the songs, and the cover of the EP shows her submerged like Ophelia in the Millais painting.

Her anxiety has provided fuel for her songwriting. High sounds like the Radio 2 playlist, with a brilliantly melodic chorus in which she wants to let her ‘vices take over’. The production is superb, especially in the double-tracked final chorus.

It is stark to hear three songs in triple-time. Worse Than Whiskey is a pedal-steel-rich tune on which Emilia sighs that ‘it’s hard to break through to your emotions’. The almost emo Pretty Pink Pills, which opens with audible tears, describes the beta blockers which she takes to cope with her mental health struggles, while Head Rush is sung tenderly to match how ‘your touch gives me life’. 

This is supremely emotional music, which makes it country music with a folky tinge. I also recommend Girl Talk, a kickass countrywide collaboration with a variety of singers including Jade Helliwell and Emma Moore.

Erin Enderlin – Barroom Mirrors

A sort of songwriter’s songwriter who has a fan in Tanya Tucker, Erin’s new six-track EP was trailed by three singles, all of which I loved.

Somebody’s Shot of Whiskey includes a fiddle solo from Jenee Fleenor, some excellent vocal harmonies and a bumper sticker of a line that underlines the love between Erin and her partner. The heartbreak waltz If I’m Not In Hell reminds me of Brandy Clark in its lyrical expertise (‘I’ve never felt this empty in the middle of the day’), while If There Weren’t So Many Damn Songs is a country song about country songs that make it difficult to escape songs about barrooms and jukeboxes. Terri Clark adds her pipes to that song while Rosanne Cash guests on Cut Through Me, a song full of fiddle and imagery to denote the pain she feels. I especially love the line about roses reclaiming graveyards.

When I’m Drinking Whiskey is a timeless barroom lament where Erin says ‘this broken heart’s busy’ drowning its sorrows: ‘I’ve hit the bottom of way more than just this glass’ is a super line. The EP’s title track is a similar lament about how mirrors ‘tell the truth’ about ‘all the things you can’t undo’.

This is a cohesive set of songs full of rich instrumentation and country topics. More people should know a name which is respected and cherished, in the category of Gretchen Peters or Brandy Clark. That’s a writers round I’d love to see!

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