Becky Wiles opens her Free Kind of Love album with the spunky bluegrass workout, “Call Me Crazy.” However, if you think this is an indicator of what the rest of this album sounds like, well, you would have guessed incorrectly. Instead, this 13-track release is quite a ballad-heavy affair. Fortunately, Wiles is as adept at slow songs as she is with the fast ones, making for a memorable new release.
That more upbeat Wiles returns again for “Ms. Moxie,” which is a jazzy number – complete with electric piano and swinging trumpet. It’s a side of Wiles’ musical personality she carries well, even if she doesn’t show it all that much. While many of these songs concern general life issues, Wiles also has spiritual feelings, which she puts into her songs. None better than “Send Me,” which has a sort of missionary zeal to it. It’s sung nicely, over just acoustic guitar. It’s quite a personal song, too, as it’s calling upon God to give her a spiritual vision and purpose. Another one, titled “Co-pilot,” might also be taken to be spiritually intended. There’s the old description of God as one’s co-pilot, after all. Then again, it could be meant as a straight-ahead love song. With its lovely fiddle work, which accompanies Wiles throughout the song, it’s nearly a bluegrass song, like the opener “Call Me Crazy.” However this one is far gentler.
More often than not, though, Wiles is accompanied by acoustic piano. For example, “The Complication” is a slow, piano ballad. Yes, it also has fiddle on it, but this time that instrument sounds much more like a classical accompaniment, rather than anything country or bluegrass-y. “He Was Good” is another piano ballad. It also incorporates what sounds like steel guitar in the background of it, yet it’s only slightly country styled. Lyrically, it sounds like a daughter-to-father song and finds Wiles showing her appreciation. “Take A Ride” is yet one more piano-assisted song. On “Mr. Miyagi,” however, Wiles sings over guitar, which is a nice, slight break from the consistent piano accompaniments.
Yes, Wiles knows her way around sensitive singer/songwriter material. This album, however, would have been more enjoyable with more variety on it. She knows how to shake up the dust with bluegrass instrumentation, so why didn’t she incorporate more of these sounds on her album? Without many differing styles and sounds, the album begins to feel a bit same-y after a while.
With that said, though, Becky Wiles is a fine singer and songwriter. This is a high-quality album, and her debut, at that. Usually, it takes artists a little time to grow up to this maturity point, but Wiles has reached it right out of the gate. This is a fine first effort, and an album that suggests Becky Miles has plenty of sonic tools in her musical toolshed. She has an innate ability to write fine songs, which is an essential building block. Perhaps Wiles should work with a producer that can bring out more of these sonic interests next time. For now, though, this album is an extremely great start.