“Country Class” follows up Kaleigh Krause’s previous single “Twisted // Mistake” with enough passion to set a house on fire. It’s a well worn cliché, but wholly appropriate in this case, to say that this twenty year old talent sings like her life depends on it – “Country Class” sounds like it was born out of intense desire and personal experience, but it will connect with a wide swath of listeners with little effort. She’s accompanied by a kick ass band that you’ll love from the first because they bring real grit and gravitas to a track you might not, going in, expect to have either. Kaleigh isn’t a facile pop star looking to turn a quick buck and not deeply invested in her art – she wrote “Country Class” and clearly brings every bit of her heart to bear on her creative work. It’s impossible to hear this song and doubt her authenticity.
It’s musically on point as well. The primary musical instrument leading the way is slide guitar that the production places front and center in the musical mix, but the swinging rhythm section leaves a mark as well. There are some well placed piano lines and fills percolating up through the mix that adds a lighter touch to the track without ever watering down its blues based strength, but Kaleigh and her band resolutely avoid any extended instrumental breaks to keep the focus on what really matters – Kaleigh’s voice and the interplay she establishes between her work and the band around her. She serves up a slightly longer than usual musical introduction that makes the band’s presence felt from the first and, for the song’s entirety, works at complementing the musical backing rather than juxtaposing her voice against their playing.
I love the lyrics as well. She isn’t remaking the wheel with her writing on this track, the subject matter isn’t new, but she puts her personality into the writing in a way that few of her contemporaries can match. There’s a little understated humor in the songwriting and plenty of brio – her “characters” feel cut from life, never false, and she doesn’t take any hackneyed shortcuts to curry her audience’s favor. It feels ripped from her, joyously, and her inspired singing pushes it over the top for listeners.
Her voice is the song’s burning heart. She hangs back a bit during the verses and bridge, but even those moments are characterized by smoky emotiveness that never risks hamfisted theatrics. Her voice, likewise, is extremely powerful – it’s the sort of voice that, if her mic went out during a performance, there’s little doubt that you could still hear her in the cheap seats if she chose to keep singing. What a wallop “Country Class” packs and it never feels like a song pandering for our attention. Instead, Kaleigh is clearly writing and recording what she wants to and has the talent to bring listeners along for the ride. I hope there are more singles like this to come, naturally, but when she turns her attention to a full length release, listeners can be assured that it’ll be one of the year’s musical highlights. Kaleigh Krause is, in every way, the real deal.
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