Aubrie Sellers New City Blues on 2LP + Download
"I prefer to create friction," post-country chanteuse Aubrie Sellers offers. "Because if you're not pushing buttons, you're just making something pleasant, it's probably been done before...and it's not making anyone feel anything." In this world of pretty little girls who are seen and not heard and reality stars who are famous for nothing, the 24 year old songwriter ain't buying in. She adds, "I'd rather my music be polarizing than everyone like it, because they rarely do. I think passion is a lot deeper than that. I want to go deeper, and be honest that life isn't just some party and going out. I mean, don't people feel anything?"
Not that New City Blues is some kind of morbid, maudlin affair. From the cutlery in the blender indictment of surface beauty "Paper Doll" to the Lone Star drive of "Just To Be With You" and the tumbledown melody of "Sit Here and Cry," this is a high energy box cutter of emotion: songs marked by the bite and punch of smart girls who know there's more to life than a cold beer and cut-offs. There's a definite viscerality to New City Blues. From the yearning title track to the slow-building "Loveless Rolling Stone," the sense of displacement marking so many young people uncertain about the future tempers the pools of guitar lines, the way her voice has just the slightest ache when she finds a note's center.
To try to put a label on Sellers' sound is tricky. If there's a slight drawl when she sings, it's where she comes from. But the sound – "I love trashy drums and telecaster guitars, but then that dreamy atmospheric Daniel Lanois kind of effect" – has an immediacy and an urgency, as well as a porous jagged edge that could only be described as "garage country." And never underestimate how important melody is to the woman raised on the road with her mother critically acclaimed progressive traditionalist Lee Ann Womack.
Aubrie Sellers was basted in music before she was even born. Her father Jason Sellers, now a top songwriter, was on the road with Ricky Skaggs, then had his own solo deal. The Grammy-winning Womack is a singer's singer, who's performed with or for Willie Nelson, Buddy Miller, the Fairfield Four, Steve Earle and Maya Angelou. "All my memories are sitting on the bus, listening to my Mom play and sing. Always being on the way to somewhere else... and I loved it." The rootlessness comes honest. As does a perspective that in some ways outstrips her years.
"Who's truer to my life than me?" Certainly no one has a take like Aubrie Sellers. From the pointed impaling of sensationalism of "Magazines" to the emergence from petty backstabbing of the meandering "People Talking," the whirling reality check "Living Is Killing Me" to the lothario-slashing noir "Liar Liar," there's no flinching or apologies given. Instead the record thrashes, lurches and exorcises. Lyrically, she tackles new ground or old subjects in new ways. Musically, there is that California steel that's as ethereal as the buzzing guitars jar the songs. Sonically, it's mixed to be as in your face as possible.
Her habit of quietly singing to herself inspired the sadly beautiful "Humming Song," floating on a melody as narcotic as it gets. The after-love afterglow of "Dreaming in the Day" is pure honey with a midtempo push. Even the elusive lover of the yearning "Like the Rain" makes the loving worth the ache of when he's gone. World-wise, she knows the score – and isn't afraid to speak the truth; but she's young enough to still have hope tempered with a wicked wit and true discernment. Maybe that's the best news of all.
“Aubrie Sellers is country’s next big star.” - Nylon
“Gritty and glorious debut LP.” - Rolling Stone Country