There’s been a dramatic influx of folk music masquerading as country in the past few years, but when you listen to something that has the pure tonality of an instant classic like B.B. Cole’s new record Outgrowing Ourselves, it’s easy to spot the real thing amongst all of the fakes. Instead of experimenting with a style that never had anything wrong with it in the first place, Cole is getting back to the Americana-powered roots of the country music genre, and I think that her efforts in this debut album amount to something one would expect from a mainstream player – in a much more ideal era, of course.
The slick instrumentation that’s featured in “Emotional Baggage,” “Pieces of Me,” and “Wear Your Crown” fits in well with the elegance of our singer’s voice, and while she could have pressed the rhythm in these specific tracks a little more than she did, I think her decision to be a little more conservative than necessary is going to earn her a lot of respect from both her peers and other critics in the country underground. She’s stressing the importance of balance as a songwriter, which is an attribute I wish I could hear more of in her scene at the moment. Listening to tracks like “Demons,” “She Gave Me Feathers,” and “When I Was a Little Girl,” each of them built atop a pop influence without debate, I think there’s a lot of potential for collaborative work in B.B. Cole’s future if she chooses to pursue it.
These pipes of hers sound great on their own, but they’d be even more buxom if provided with a duality in the studio that is often only achieved through a duet with an artist of a similar talent level. That might be asking a lot at the moment, but hers is a sound too good to go wasted in isolation, frankly.
If you’re a country music lover who can’t live without a little bit of muscle in your melodies, there’s plenty of imposing instrumental prowess to be enjoyed in Outgrowing Ourselves, and all of it is presented without any sort of synthetic buffering – which is becoming awfully hard to get away from these days in country and pop the same. As a singer/songwriter, Cole doesn’t want to rely on the external to tell us a story, and that’s why her debut is as clean and shapely as it is with nothing to give it a boost.
It’s usually hard to please pop critics with a country album, but what B.B. Cole has released as her stunning introduction to the mainstream world is likely to get a lot of folks interested in her future works as well. She isn’t playing to a hipster audience with this material, but instead a corner of the country music universe that has been asking for more feeling in their jams for far too long now. The reason why Outgrowing Ourselves is making headlines is clear; its creator is simply answering a demand.