Taking its cues from her hit single "Redneck Woman," Here for the Party
's opening title track introduces Gretchen Wilson
in no uncertain terms. "I'm here for the beer and the ball-bustin' band," she sings over its emphatic kick drum beat and barroom twang. "I may not be a ten, but the boys say I clean up good." The vocalist's brassy delivery -- not to mention her brazen honesty -- differs considerably from the songbirds that often surround her on country radio in 2004. In fact, she's closer to the leather pants and poppy honky tonk of Tanya Tucker
's 1978 effort T.N.T. Tucker
is referenced in the aforementioned "Redneck Woman," as are Hank Williams, Jr.
and Kid Rock
, who also seem like primary sources for Wilson
's mix of traditional country, pop accessibility, and uncut rock & roll attitude. Though she happily belts out the harder edges of "Homewrecker" and the hometown tribute "Pocahontas Proud," Wilson
is also convincing on the ballad "When I Think About Cheatin'," and the softer tones of "What Happened." These tracks give Party
some welcome depth, playing off its more rowdy material nicely and proving that Wilson
isn't just a loudmouth novelty. Sure, that mud on her jeans in the back cover photo is real. But so is the sentiment in "Holdin' You," when she declares that "Holdin' you/Holds me together." Gretchen Wilson
may be a redneck woman, but she has a heart of gold.