Kelsey Waldon with Dave Kurian at the 'Dad Lounge
On her new album No Regular Dog, singer/songwriter/guitarist Kelsey Waldon shares a gritty and glorious portrait of living in devotion to your deepest dreams: the brutal self-doubt and unending sacrifice, hard-won wisdom and sudden moments of unimaginable transcendence. Revealing her supreme gift for spinning harsh truths into songs that soothe and brighten the soul, the Kentucky-bred artist ultimately makes an unassailable case for boldly following your hearta sentiment perfectly encapsulated in No Regular Dogs raw and radiant title track.
I wrote No Regular Dog at a time when I was gone so much and working so hard and starting to wonder if I had the staying power to keep it going, says Waldon, who now lives in Ashland City, Tennessee. After putting in my time in the van on the road, after all the blood, sweat, and tears and the crying in parking lots, Id finally gotten to where I wantedbut it was also a moment when I really started questioning myself. In the end I came around to answer my own question and realize that, yes, I can do this. I wont be put down so easy. I am no regular dog.
Waldons fourth full-length and the follow-up to 2019s White Noise/ White Linesher debut release for John Prines Oh Boy RecordsNo Regular Dog came to life over the course of many charmed and freewheeling sessions at Daves Room Studio in Los Angeles, with production from kindred spirit Shooter Jennings (Brandi Carlile, Tanya Tucker). Id never recorded an album anywhere but Nashville or back home, and it felt good to get outside my bubble, Waldon says. We were able to hunker down and work till late into night, doing what we could to catch lightning in a bottle.
In a departure from the more guitar-heavy approach of its predecessor (a critically lauded album that landed on NPR Musics Best of 2019 list), No Regular Dog unfolds in a lush yet understated sound that lets the singular character of Waldons songwriting and voice shine through each track. Featuring her longtime band members, Brett Resnick (pedal steel), Alec Newnam (bass), and Nate Felty (drums), along with musicians like famed guitarist/dobro player Doug Pettibone (Lucinda Williams, Keith Richards), the album also illuminates the immense depth of her musicality, mining inspiration from such eclectic sources as mid-century bluegrass, 60s soul, and 70s country-rock. Everythings in there, all the music Ive ever known and loved, says Waldon. I wanted to show my whole color scheme and create something thats less of a honky-tonk thing and more like a big, beautiful picture of everything I see in country music.
After opening on the luminous strings and pedal steel of its title trackin which Waldon self-identifies as a prisoner of my mental cages, my own worst enemyNo Regular Dog kicks into a much punchier mood on the brightly rambling Sweet Little Girl. Its about a girl whos lost her way and now shes trying to find it, says Waldon. I was inspired by real-life incidents, like all the thoughts that go through your head when youre dealing with addiction and feeling like youve got this rage inside that you dont know what to do with. Graced with the lilting fiddle melodies of Jenningss longtime collaborator Aubrey Richmond, the result is a prime showcase for Waldons fiercely honest storytelling (from the chorus: Ill be crawlin up the walls, just a like a little ol house fly/Anything so I cant feel this hollow inside). From there, No Regular Dog shifts into the candid introspection of Tall and Mighty, a bittersweet meditation on getting by in a world bent on breaking you down. Id been having conversations with my peers in this business, especially all my girlfriends who are such amazing songwriters in their own right, talking about this journey and all the smoke and mirrors of trying to live up to your dream, says Waldon. There have been times when Ive tried to prove the wrong thing, but Im through with that now. Im not trying to be anybody but myself, and to write songs that show whats in my heart and on my mind.
A particularly poignant moment on No Regular Dog, Seasons Ending finds Waldon ruminating on the passing of John Prine, who died from Covid-related complications in April 2020. That was the first song I wrote after John diedlike so many people I was in complete shock, I couldnt write for months, says Waldon. Theres been so much loss over the past few years; my partners uncle died from Covid the same day as John, and a lot of my friends have seen family members lose their struggles with addiction or depression. Weve been carrying such a heavy load, so this song is about coping with that and trying to understand that death is a part of life. One of several tracks featuring the heavenly background vocals of Kyshona Armstrong, Maureen Murphy, and Nickie Conley, Seasons Ending matches its soulful harmonies and lonesome guitar work with the kind of loving serenade that gently pierces the heart (e.g., And aint it just like you to bloom and be gone).
In a creative breakthrough for Waldon, No Regular Dog also features the first unabashedly joyful love song shes ever written, the quietly powerful Simple as Love. I was at home sitting on my back porch and I started thinking about how Ive got all these heartbreak songs and drinking songs, but Im not experiencing any of that anymore, she says. Im at a point where Im in a healthy relationship with someone who actually cares about me, and I wanted to write a song that expresses what love feels like in its purest form. Laced with cascading guitar tones that glisten like sunlit honey, Simple as Love wholly achieves an ineffable sweetness while spotlighting Waldons idiosyncratic brand of poetry (Like a junkies got its itch/It leaves you wantin more, wantin all of it/Just like a lily in a ditch/It grows where it wants to grow).
Originally from the tiny rural town of Monkeys Eyebrow, Waldon has long relied on music as a lifeline. Ive always used songwriting as a way to process the world around me and also process my own thoughts and feelings, she says, naming classic country artists like Loretta Lynn, George Jones, and Merle Haggard among her early influences. If I didnt have the ability to put all that down on paper, I think Id be pretty lost today. After penning her first song as a small childMy mom still has lyrics sheets I made when I was about nine, everything laid out in verse and chorusWaldon continued sharpening her craft and eventually left home for Nashville, where she further honed her chops by playing local bar gigs. Over the coming years, she put out a series of EPs before making her full-length debut with The Goldmine: a self-released 2014 effort that earned abundant praise from leading outlets like Rolling Stone, who hailed her as Tammy Wynette on a trip to Whiskeytown. Arriving in 2016, Waldons sophomore album Ive Got a Way drew even more acclaim and appeared on such coveted year-end roundups as the Top 10 Favorite Albums Of 2016 list from Ken Tucker of NPRs Fresh Air, with its lead single All By Myself featured on NPRs Top 100 Songs of 2016 list. Several years later, she performed at the Grand Ole Opry with the likes of Sturgill Simpson and John Prine, who invited her to join the Oh Boy Records family while up onstagemaking Waldon the labels first new artist signing in 15 years. Co-produced with Dan Knobler (Allison Russell, Della Mae), White Noise/ White Lines delivered such standouts as Kentucky, 1988, which later topped Rolling Stones 25 Best Country and Americana Songs of 2019 list.
Looking back on the making of No Regular Dogan album rooted in rigorous self-reflectionWaldon speaks to her newly clarified sense of purpose as a songwriter and artist. I hope that these songs are able to live with people and help make the world a little better, because I think thats a big part of what my job is, she says. At the end of the day, Im so thankful for my passion for music because its sustained me throughout my whole life, and now I want it to do the same for other people. And if anyones struggling, I hope they can recognize the No Regular Dog within themselves, and start to see how much theyre really worth.
...with support from Trinidad's own DAVE KURIAN!
Sunday, October 1st, 2023
7pm doors, 8pm-ish show start
$15 / 21+
Trinidad Lounge (Ver)
421 N. Commercial St.
Trinidad, CO 81082
|Edad mínima: 21|
|Apropiado para niños: No|
|Se aceptan perros: No|
|No fumar: Sí|
|Accesible a silla de ruedas: Sí|