The final stop for LA based artist Jaime Wyatt on her first (but hopefully not last!) UK tour was London’s Borderline. It was a gig I’d been looking forwards to since immersing myself in her 2017 release, “ Felony Blues”, several of the tracks being inspired by her 8 month jail term for robbing her drug dealer over ten years ago now. And I can truly say it was one of my favourite ever evenings of country music, this lady deserves to be a huge star in my opinion!
Beth Bombara ( from St Louis, MO ) provided the opening set with material from her various releases including the most recent, “Map and No Direction”. Her rock influences came through strongly straight away (she played electric guitar) and I must say I preferred it when drummer Kit Hammon switched to bass guitar (such as on “Thunder and Rain” from her self titled album, which was a set highlight for me) as at times her vocals were drowned out. Her music is pretty varied in style and I thought voice was particularly well suited to the bluesier numbers.
Jaime (with vintage Gibson acoustic guitar and harmonica) and the band took to the stage to warm applause after the customary break, the headliner a commanding figure with her tall, slim frame dressed in a fabulous sparkly blue retro trouser suit, topped off with her customary stetson. A quick hello, this is our last UK show but i hope to be back soon (hooray!) before the album opener “ Wishing Well” confirmed that vocally Jaime is every bit as impressive live as I had been told. How such a slightly built artist possess such power is beyond me, and there’s all the rawness and emotion that draws you in as a listener. The set showcased all seven tracks from “Felony Blues” (which includes a great cover of Merle Haggard’s “ Misery and Gin” alongside the six originals
interspersed with Jaime’s interpretations of a number of trad country classics. “Haggard is my Jesus” she told us before a stunning rendition of “Branded Man” which given her past and the challenges being labelled a felon carries is particularly poignant for her. However there was little reference to her past misdemeanours apart from dedicating “Stone Hotel” to the correctional department of LA, and mentioning that while she was addicted to coca cola there are worse addictions to have! Chat was lighthearted and informative, and all the musicians seemed to be having a blast, Jaime and Beth sharing several band members throughout this tour with a couple travelling with the ladies from the US and others sourced from the UK but they all gelled superbly . They were incredible throughout the evening, whether rocking out on numbers such as the drum driven ” Wasco “ which had a lot more energy live I loved the defiance in Jaime’s vocals when delivering the lines “ain’t no body gonna tell me who to love”) and “Your Loving Saves Me” , or providing more delicate accompaniment on one of my favourites of the set, “From Outer Space”. Worthy of particular mention is Yeovil’s Joe Coombs on lead guitar, who’s playing was impressive and intuitive without being flashy.
There’s a new album in the pipeline from Jaime, and we were treated to a couple of its tracks , “By The Way” (a stunning, slow tempo waltz about not giving up on a relationship) and “Ain’t Enough Whiskey “ (a break up lament, for which Beth Bombara returned to the stage to provide vocal harmonies) which I fell in love with instantly. Can’t wait to hear what else she has in store for us!
The encore song was one written by Waylon Jennings’ as a tribute to his friend and hero Mohammed Ali , unrecorded until last year when Jaime and legends such as Willie Nelson and Shooter Jennings got together to capture it for a limited vinyl release.
Both ladies mingled and chatted with the audience after performing, I also was fortunate enough to interview Jaime before the show (such an interesting chat and she was so sweet, even offering to take me to a vegan restaurant when I’m next in LA!) so look out for that on Belles and Gals very soon!
Definitely an artist I highly recommend you catch live when she returns to the UK but in the interim if you haven’t already done so please treat your ears to “Felony Blues” which is available on all the usual listening platforms. More information can also be found at jaimewyatt.com. Rolling Stone got it right when they included her in their “10 New Country Artists you need to know” last year, and boy am I glad I have got to know and see her!
Review written by Lesley Hastings (twitter.com/lesleyhastings)