From the first note of Julie Miller’s “You Make My Heart Beat Too Fast,” a hearty growl that built to a joyous scream, Wynonna and the Big Noise demand your attention. An intimate, private show (at the Hotel Cafe) to get the word out for their upcoming, self-titled album, due out February 12 on Curb Records, her pride and delight in performing this new material is evident; the twinkle in her eyes and big smile were present throughout the short, half-hour set. “I don’t fit into any format,” she explained, but with thick, twangy guitar (something you might have heard at Capitol Studios– just a few blocks to the north-east–for a Buck Owens sessions), the gnarled snap of pedal and lap steel guitars, and relaxed yet insistent rhythm section (anchored by her husband and producer, Cactus Moser, on drums), the Big Noise sound like modern honky-tonk.
The songs are bluesy, sexy, and tough in equal measures; “it’s me, honest and true,” she said. There are barroom laments (“Jesus and the Jukebox”), tender ballads (“You Are So Beautiful, with Darrell Leonard lending an aching trumpet line), and flat out rock “Ain’t No Thing.” Each of them gives her a chance to show off her emotional and musical range. And for all the impressive power of her voice, her vocals remain intimate and personal-scaled, especially on their clear-eyed take of Raphael Saadiq’s “Staying In Love.”. They’re stories you could imagine hearing from someone on the next barstool, and I can’t wait to hear more.
The album is available for pre-order here.