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Gretchen Wilson

Right On Time – 2013 (Redneck)

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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CDs by Gretchen Wilson

Gretchen Wilson is an example of how quickly commercial success can come and go in this whacky business. The Redneck Woman was all the rage in 2004 with "Here's to the Party." The flag bearer for the trailer park crowd personified the tough chick, but there was far more musical depth to her than the persona she embraced through four albums including her last one, 2010's "I Got Your Country Right Here."

In this disposable world, even though her first 3 discs went number 1 and her last 1 hit number 6, Wilson has not enjoyed a top 10 single since 2005, an eternity in this musical business day and age. Despite that, her music never wanted for quality.

"Right on Time" has far more hits than misses, but except for perhaps the prototypical Wilson-styled lead off Get Outta My Yard (there's that blue collar attitude boiling to the top in a song written in part by Kacey Musgraves), this does not come off as an attempt to strike the commercial mother lode. She keeps a good groove going with Still Rollin', a tougher sounding Jackson Browne-type song, and a slowed down, acoustic-based Grandma.

After peeling it back musically on the title track, the disc hits a rough patch about half-way through with subpar material. Wilson kicks into a rocking My Truck with Josh Malter, trading off lines like "My truck is bigger than your truck." The Well Run Dry and the too rocking Dust & Bone, with vocals far too low, border on the generic.

Wilson resuscitates the disc with a bluesy phase with The Gypsy In Me where she stretches it out vocally, the slow burning, somewhat funky One Good Friend and particularly I've Been in Love where she proves adept with Bonnie Raitt-styled vocals and veers towards a soulful bluesy groove on Hey Love and the jazzy closing of Birds of a Feather. Wilson encounters no difficulties in toning it down vocally. Wilson has never lacked for being a strong vocalist, and her dexterity comes through here time and again.

Wilson brings a different kind of boldness this time out by going off in different directions musically. Not everything quite works, but she is not mired in her past. Well, maybe she still is a "Redneck Woman" of a different stripe - still doing it her way.