By Lindsey Rhoades
By Chaz Kangas
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Jena Ardell
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Katherine Turman
By Steve Weinstein
By Araceli Cruz
Country newcomer Shelly Fairchild's hot, sweet Ride is so tight, a drill sergeant could bounce a quarter off it. If he's quick enough: Look yonder, she's calling up your salty walls, "Hide behind them hides of leather, you and Custer, fools of a feather!" Her feather, which brushes by, with a coup de drawl: "Ah can tell by the way you walk, you're ready to f-a-w-l-l-l." To fall just right (like that bouncing quarter), and thus learn to 'preciate the rider's sense of balance.
Shelly challenges herself too, leaving her "Tiny Town," though carrying away a sense of community. A community of sound (plenty soul, but hardly any solos, just come-hither intros and hydroelectric dynamics). A community that uses what it's got, not just what it's (dammit!) supposed to have. "Down Into Muddy Water" cranks up what could easily just be good ol' Muscle Shoals and feeds frustration to a fever.
But this is the same young woman who dared herself to declare, "I want to love you," and now finds herself wailing, "You pore little thing!" in wonder. Before coming back to a cautious, clear-eyed "I hope you get over your fear of flying." Yeah, hope: That's a cold thing to hold. But it'll be a wheel (again) someday.