Gretchen Wilson

Under the Covers

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Gretchen Wilson has the kind of back story the world loves: a young girl who never got past the eighth grade, grew up in trailer parks, waitressed and bartended in bars and clubs to get by, and sang on the side in cover bands, suddenly bursts onto the country scene and becomes an instant star with a single song. Released in 2004, "Redneck Woman," an iconic song that celebrated just such a ragged trailer park life and did it with resilient pride, instantly put Wilson on the celebrity fast track, and she handled it as well as anyone could have when all was said and done. Yeah, Sony dropped her in 2009 when she failed to generate another million-seller like "Redneck Woman," but Wilson rebounded nicely, starting her own label, Redneck Records, and with three albums due in 2013, she's firmly in charge of her own career for the first time. This set features rock covers from the '70s, and one can easily imagine Wilson singing these songs in a smoky bar in her native Illinois, fronting a cover band, wowing the locals with her energy, sass, and verve, and no one realizing yet what it would all come to down the road. These are pretty faithful-to-the-original renditions, with Wilson showing her range and passion on Rod Stewart and Ron Wood's "Stay with Me," Jackson Browne's "Doctor My Eyes," the James Gang and Joe Walsh's "Funk #49," and closing out things with a sweet, mostly acoustic and very effective version of Van Morrison's "Into the Mystic." Nothing here adds to the original versions of these songs, but Wilson and her band attack them with energy and reverence, and if one should happen to see them doing these songs in some juke joint bar, well, it would make for a sweet night of music, the kind any redneck woman would probably love. Wilson has earned her freedom, and if Under the Covers isn't likely to put her back at the top of the charts, it's obvious she's having a whole lot of fun not worrying about any of that at all.

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