Scene and Heard – CCCXCVIII : Who I Am  – Whitney Lusk (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Who I Am is the sound of the modern age being fashioned out of traditional strands. Those strands may be well established, country stylings, rock muscle and a pop accessibility but songs such as this are very much a modern sound. As old as country music is, this is it hitting its most unashamedly commercial stride, and why not, there is nothing wrong with selling records after all. It is the notion of rock music dropping all the cliche and bombast and just providing the engine to drive such a big sound. It also shows that even the most infectious of pop songs don’t have to follow the modern production line methods, that a popular song can also be musically astute and that you don’t have to strip down to your underwear to try to sell it.

It isn’t often that commerciality and integrity pair up but that is what happens in Whitney Lusk’s latest release. No tricks, no gimmicks, no smoke and mirrors, just a case of getting the basics right first time. The basics in this case being good song writing and a great delivery. The success of the first is proven by the fact that it is built from fairly simple, unadorned musical lines. Less is more, as they say but it is also about choosing just the right pieces of “less,” working out only what it needs and serving the song. And as for delivery, well, that’s obvious, just listen. For all Whitney Lusk’s young age her vocal performance is impressive, but then anyone who has been singing since they were 3 years of age has certainly put the hours in.

The song also says a lot about the artist, an expression of restless ambition, of happy non-conformity, of leaps of faith and chasing your dreams. A wonderfully life-affirming statement and although coming from a very personal place it also acts as an anthem for everyone, universally relatable and a great reminder to us all to take risks and follow your heart.

Country music has always courted the wider world but it usually gets its moment in the sun via its most obvious avenues, through the Nashvegas glitz and glamour, through ballads to a favourite dog, a wronged woman or a broken down pick-up, through truck driving songs and cowboy serenades. Now though, via artists such as Whitney Lusk, it has found a new and more effective musical vehicle. Roots fans will like the country style, pop fans will love the euphoric fun of it and the sheer drive of the music will keep the rock fraternity happy.In fact I can’t think of an audience who this won’t appeal to.

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