In the world of music, especially in country music, there aren’t too many times where the lyrics to songs feel like those of a life that’s been lived. Once teams of producers, image consultants and label executives get involved, a lot of the heart and soul to an album can go right out the window. Of course, Nashville’s Karly Driftwood doesn’t have any of those factors at her disposal. On her debut album Too Mean to Die, she lays it all out there on the line, portraying a perfectly imperfect human who happens to want to deliver honest country music.
The magic here is that because of how the songs are structured, Driftwood forces your attention to lay on the lyrics. If your words are important, this album lays out exactly how to get someone to pay attention to them. Though many times we feel that lyrics can be secondary, here they’re just as fiery as the music itself-offering a one two punch of narrative and melody. The easy going stride of “After Hours” pulls you in and disguises the sharp wit underneath. Lyrics that focus on steering away from becoming another party zombie amidst the world of strip clubs and late nights pepper throughout the song, reminding you that not everyone who’s up late is looking for party supplies. That sharp tongue continues throughout the album. “Bake You a Cake” has all of the stamps of a woman scorned, self-medication on “Tennessee Trees” and the fraudulence of people get portrayed on “Fake Ass Friends.”
But it’s not just the obvious ways in which the lyrics hit you in the face on this release. The songs previously mentioned have a catchy and upbeat pace, and in many ways they’re hard to not see as potential radio hits if that’s still a thing. But the songs that have a slower time signature like “Settle for Being Used” as the lead example, still have lyrics that punch you in the gut with their real life reality. The distorted reality of being mistreated in a relationship has been penned in country music before, but never like this. This occurs again on “Stripped My Way to Nashville” where Driftwood explains why dreaming can’t be paid for with a college education. The stark honesty of her words stands out between a mix of soft tones and heavy riffs.
Between the honest words and her sweet timbre tuned voice, the biggest standout on the entire record is “Dodged a Bullet,” for multiple reasons. Aside from the straightforward lyrics and heartfelt backing vocals, the song stands out as a song you’d hear all over the place from radio to a movie soundtrack of any modern romantic comedy about couple hood. But with that said Karly Driftwood seems to understand the value in being honest and stark. And in music, especially modern country music, it makes her stand out even further.
Too Mean to Die is available to purchase in all online music retailers, it can be purchased directly from her online shop and it can be streamed on all streaming platforms. There are no tour announcements from Driftwood at the moment, but you can follow her on Facebook or Instagram for updates.
Image Credits: Photo by Alexa King.