Break ups can affect people in many different ways… both at the time, and further down the line. Cue the latest release from Runaway June, their EP “backstory” which came out last Friday via BBR Music Group/Wheelhouse Records, three tracks inspired by the subject but each with its own take on the situation and individual vibe. Download/stream ‘backstory’ here
With the departure of founding member Hannah Mulholland last year, vocalist/fiddle/guitar player Natalie Stovall has now joined Naomi Cooke (lead vocals/guitar) and Jennifer Wayne (vocals/guitar) and this is the talented trio’s first new music with this line-up. While all three are happily married and the band is riding high, including being honoured as a coveted “New Face” at the 2020 Country Radio Seminar, having their single “Buy My Own Drinks” becoming the highest charting song by a female group since The Chicks back in 2003, and currently being out on tour with Luke Bryan, things haven’t always looked so rosy in their lives. Talking about the new EP in an interview with People recently Naomi explains that the heartbreak in the tracks, as well as being literal, is “also metaphors for the no’s we have gotten throughout our career and the different paths that we’ve had to take. In a way, it’s us telling a lot of our story in the form of a love story“.
The opening track “I Forgot About That” is sonically the most obviously Southern, bluegrass inspired of the three, and I just loved the feel of this punchy mid tempo song from the very first listen! To quote from the wonderful lyrics, it’s about “heartbreak amnesia“, being absolutely convinced you are well and truly over someone until they show up again and your old feelings for them resurface. I love the frustration with the situation that comes across so well in the lead vocals, and of course as on all three tracks there’s the wonderful harmonies we have grown to expect from the band. Its strong beat throughout definitely gets the toes tapping, and when Natalie’s fiddle playing kicks in on the second verse the arrangement soars to a completely new level of perfection.
The reflective “Down The Middle” which follows is a great contrast, really tugging at your heartstrings in every respect. Watching your ex moving on while you are struggling to let go is one of the hardest things, and that’s the premise of this write…”this goodbye might set you free, but what’s better for you ain’t better for me“. I love how it builds sonically then comes right back down again several times, another Dann Huff produced track which has a great arrangement including some wonderful lead guitar and once again that fiddle I love so much in the mix. The angst in the vocals really hits home too. Stunning.
The EP closes with “T-Shirt“, a track produced by Mark Trussell which is laden with fun and sass and shows yet another side to Runaway June. It is the most country-pop, commercial sounding of the three songs which I’ve already seen drawing comparisons to 90’s Shania Twain and I totally get that analogy! This energetic, feel good, female-empowerment anthem sees the ladies bidding good riddance to their ex as they move on from a dead end relationship despite him wanting to try again…”baby I’m good with just a souvenir“. The giggling in the background during the second verse is so perfect and infectious, I can envisage it happening naturally during the recording process….please tell me that’s true! What a fun one this will be performed live… and what a great video that can’t fail to make you smile!
It’s exciting to hear that this fantastic release may be just the beginning when it comes to new music from Runaway June, who have apparently been writing like crazy recently…. if “backstory” is anything to go by, all I can say is “bring it on, ladies!”.
backstory Track Listing:
1. Forgot About That (Naomi Cooke, Jennifer Wayne, Corey Crowder, Emily Shackelton)*
2. Down The Middle (Naomi Cooke, Jennifer Wayne, Hannah Mulholland, Barry Dean, Tofer Brown)*
3. T-Shirt (Naomi Cooke, Jennifer Wayne, Adam Hambrick, Mark Trussell)^