Wednesday, June 19, 2024
HomeMusicAlbum Review – Sarah Gayle Meech – “Easin’ On”

Album Review – Sarah Gayle Meech – “Easin’ On”

photo: Amanda Van Sandt

Some give a lot to make sure that actual country music remains a living, breathing, viable part of American life. Some give more than others. As one of the brave souls who soldiers onto Lower Broadway on a weekly basis to play four hour sets at Robert’s Western World, Sarah Gayle Meech is on the very front lines of keeping country music alive and fighting back the waves of corporate encroachment.

For an artist like Sarah Gayle Meech, performance and preservation comes first. This is what has earned her the moniker “Queen of Lower Broadway” here at Saving Country Music if nowhere else. But this weekly commitment along with having to deal with a divorce and the death of her best friend created a nine year delay between the release of studio albums for Meech.

Patience is rewarded with the release of Sarah Gayle Meech’s new album Easin’ On that takes her trials and tribulations, and puts them into heartfelt songs that evidence an uncommon and unique approach to what is otherwise traditional country music. With lush strings arrangements contrasting with steel guitar and chest-pounding Outlaw odes, Easin’ On is not like any other country record you’ll hear in 2024 or any other time.

Easin’ On is an album about not falling into a rut, whether it’s in a relationship, or in life in general. Often the most arduous and scary tasks we undertake in life, and most difficult decisions we make turn out to be the most important, and the ones we’re most grateful for later on. If you don’t make those conversions, you never evolve. Sharing these philosophies isn’t wholly original, but it’s the way Meech weaves these messages among melodic moments that allows Easin’ On to open pathways in the brain to not just hear the message, but listen to it.

To be frank, during your first trip through the album, you may wonder if it’s right for you. The spirited string arrangements in the opening song “Time for a Change” and the third song “Love Me” may make you wonder if this record might be a little too schmaltzy for your sensibilities, even if Meech’s sleeves of tattoos and the title track sandwiched in between remind you more of the music you might hear at a biker rally.

But all of this is what makes Easin’ On not just another country album. Meech and co-producer Shawn Byrne find an interesting moment in country history to be inspired from. They tap into a time in the late 80s when the overproduction of the Countrypolitan era was slowly being phased out but still held an appeal with older listeners, and the ’90s country sound of hadn’t been adopted in full form just yet.

Sarah Gayle Meech’s songs fits so well in this in-between era due to her understanding and knack for melody that you rarely find from the hardcore honky tonk crowd. Whether it’s how the melody of “Time For a Change” reminds you of another Gayle (Crystal Gayle), or in the Outlaw half-time “Forget About Me” where both the steel guitar and lead guitar stick right to the melody and sell it to your ear, Easin’ On evidences a purpose and care behind each composition to make the music feel loved.

There are other country performers who’ve used Lower Broadway only as a stepping stone, or avoided the corridor entirely on their way to greater stardom. But for a decade, Sarah Gayle Meech has held court in the true epicenter and proving ground for country music, creating a legacy all of her own, and standing up for country music in a place where standing for country is most important.

Easin’ On shows Sarah Gayle Meech’s knowledge of and prowess with country music that she’s mastered over the many years and many hours of performing it, while helping to keep it vital in new, original songs.

1 3/4 Guns Up (8/10)

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