With an old musical storytelling soul wise beyond her early 20-something years and infused with the same colorful plainspoken emotion and witty, colorful turns of phrase as her chief influences Joni Mitchell and Gillian Welch, Bailey Bigger is only now releasing her full length debut album Coyote Red, but she’s well on her way to becoming an ultra-poetic, traditional minded country/Americana treasure.
Many of her accolades run through Memphis, from twice performing at The Levitt Shell (site of one of Elvis’ first gigs) and winning “Memphis’ Best Song of 2017 for “Wildflower,” from her debut EP Closer To Home” to being named Memphis’ 2020 “Newcomer of the Year” by The Commercial Appeal. Yet her return to her roots in Marion, AR speak volumes about her organic, down home personal and musical sensibilities, as does the number 3 tattoo on the back of her left arm, representing the songwriter’s credo “three chords and the truth.”
Keeping the instrumentation simply, lilting and beautiful allows us to feel breathless as we all at once apprehend her sweet, soothing and soulful voice, her lush harmony underlay and, most importantly (according to that tattoo, anyway), the intimate but plain spoken lyrics that inspire the ears to hinge on every word in anticipation of the next image or emotion.
When she sings “your truth is on my soul” on the lovelorn and optimistic opener “You, Somehow,” we know she’s talking about the guy who could finally be the one, but she could easily be sharing a personal mission statement. So, yes, on songs like that and “No Falling Out of Love,” we get swept away by her warm, fuzzy ans sweetly romantic feelings – yet there’s something even more powerful when she’s feeling the emptiness of lies and unmet expectations (on the hypnotic piano and fuzzy guitar driven “The Levee”) and literally praying for an unforgiving heart so she can stop the emotional and spiritual bleeding from being too loving and trusting in a world that’s too cold to receive it.
Equal parts wistful and whimsical, “Wyly” – encouraging a brother to build a shrine to their innocence – is easily one of the most poignant expressions in Bailey’s sparkling arsenal. And though she’s probably writing on that farm in Arkansas, Bailey’s also got her sights set on the badlands of the plucky expansive “South Dakota” and the fascinatingly picturesque, sometimes dark vision of “Mississippi, You’re on My Mind,” the site of the Zebra Ranch, where she recorded the album.