When it comes to Erin Enderlin, she knows how to lay the pure country sound out onto the table. Her latest release, “Faulkner County,” showcases her songwriting and singing talents from start to finish. She is no stranger to Kentucky, having performed here many times over the years. She even features Kentucky native, Dillon Carmichael on one of the impressive tracks.
Opening up the record is “I Can Be Your Whiskey,” co-written by Erin Enderlin and Sarah Siskind. The song begins with the sorrowful lonely fiddle as Erin eases in with the vocals. The character in the song earns to get the attention of someone that is trying to get over someone.
“Whatever Gets You Through the Night” creates such a great detail of the scenery and is filled with the soulful vocals of Kentucky native, Dillon Carmichael. The instrumentation and smooth vocals make you think it is a Merle Haggard tune. The details of being out on the road wandering are sung by Erin and Dillon and in the end it all comes down to whatever gets you through the night.
Soon you will be swaying with the waltz of the show business that is “The Queen of Marina del Rey.” You are instantly transformed into the LA music scene at the Troubadour watching an over the top performer playing in a fast pace world. The character reminisces on the time spent performing and how you probably wouldn’t believe that she use to live that lifestyle.
If there is a radio station programmer that wants to be witty, I challenge you to play Gene Watson’s “Farewell Party” and follow it up with Erin Enderlin’s “Tonight I Don’t Give a Damn.” Right off the bat, you picture the character sitting in a bar feeling emptiness, which leads to meeting a stranger and singing “tomorrow I’ll wake up feeling empty, but tonight I don’t give a damn.” The tune is followed up with “Use Me Again,” in which the story’s character is the other woman while the man is cheating on his significant other. However, the character is welcoming the man to use her again anytime.
If country music couldn’t have more sorrow in a situation, Erin Enderlin breaks out “Broken.” The song is a first-person account of how a woman lives with choices made, from the man she married and had a baby with, but also giving away the child so it wouldn’t grow up in a broken home. You are left wondering if the woman was able to move on away from the love lost in both marriage and the child.
With “Hell Comin’ Down,” the character realizes that they are not in their 20s anymore. The lyrics, “with your love and whiskey, the one thing I’ve found; It’s heaven when you’re high but it’s hell comin’ down,” stick out as anyone who is feeling rough after a night of drinking away a heartache.
You might have heard Lee Ann Womack’s version, but Erin Enderlin adds an extra flame to the fire with “A Man with 18 Wheels.” The song expresses the love of a truck driver who is out on the road a lot and you can’t wait for the big diesel gearing down as it pulls into the driveway.
Terri Clark can be heard singing harmony vocals on “Hometown Jersey” that tells the story of the guy who was a first love of both his hometown and the character singing.
“Till It’s Gone” picks up with the young lady where she left off in “Broken.” She finds herself drinking away in a lonely motel room. For once, she is free away from the abuse she endured. She is moving on in her life to make it her own. The steel guitar wails away in sorrow, yet again of hope of a better life.
With “These Boots,” Erin opens up to how she has become a storyteller with her songwriting and being able to travel the world. Her boots, as well as her roots, have led her to many wonderful things in life. One of those would be performing multiple times on the Grand Ole Opry. Perhaps one day we will hear the words “Member of the Grand Ole Opry” before her name.
I do believe Merle Haggard would appreciate the treatment that Erin gave to “Old Flames (Can’t Hold a Candle to You)” that became a classic hit for Haggard. Soon after, you will be hearing the sweet vocals of Erin Enderlin along with Vince Gill and Alison Krauss on “Sweet Emmylou.” The song is in tribute not just Emmylou Harris, but also those times of heartache.
The album concludes with “Run Baby Run,” which sings of leaving out of the small town as fast as you can to make a living better than what your parents lived. Perhaps this could be taken as if the child from “Broken” is trying to leave the place that left bad memories and life for his parents?
Overall, “Faulkner County” is an excellent piece of musical art that fills the gap of sorrow and soulfulness that country music has been missing. The songwriting exceeds expectations, followed up with musicianship and vocal qualities that Music Row should be seeking.
For more information on Erin Enderlin, don’t hesitate to check out www.erinenderlin.com. Her album is available for purchase on her website, as well as I-tunes and Amazon.
Jessica Blankenship is the owner and founder of Kentucky Country Music website. The Berea College graduate has been a music journalist and historian for over 20 years. She enjoys providing concert photography, reviews, historical articles, red carpet event coverage, and exclusive interviews of your favorite musicians. Jessica is proud to be a Kentucky Colonel and alumni of the FFA and 4-H Clubs. In 2018, she was named one of Laurel County’s Ten Under 40 Award Recipients. In 2019, she was a member of the Inaugural class of BRIGHT Kentucky as part of Leadership Kentucky. She has been featured on the Kentucky Music Preview podcast, Overtones radio show, WFKY Nashville News Roundup, KET, and more. Beyond music, she enjoys traveling, helping her community, collecting gnomes, and Volkswagens.