Maybe I’ve been living in a cave, but I hadn’t heard of Hannah Ellis until encountering her new single “Wine Country”. Consider myself suitably chastised. Her new single is a masterclass in modern country songwriting giving fans of the genre exactly what they expect from the best and all that much more. It’s because, more than anything else, it comes from the heart. She hits all the expected marks, and she checks all of the usual boxes, but she also displays an intelligent grasp of exactly what a great country song is and even throws some straight-up rock into the mix to spice up the cut’s flavor.
She’s a well-rounded modern artist. It isn’t everyone who can capitalize on a great song with a music video that actually reinforces, rather than detracts, from the release. It’s almost meta in the way the video for “Wine Country” depicts Ellis walking into an anonymous tavern, setting down at the bar with a glass of wine, and coming up with the idea for the video. It’s a gorgeously filmed assortment of images from her sharing wine with her friends in dresses and other fancy attire, Ellis walking through a vineyard wearing another even more beautiful dress, and relaxing on a truck tailgate in casual wear. It closes with viewers going back to the tavern and Ellis leaving telling someone over the phone what a great idea she has for the song’s video. The song is well worth the idea. Ellis kicks out the footlights with a barnstormer, holding back only long enough to give us a barely restrained intro, before hitting the first verse with the kind of verve you won’t soon forget.
She charges through each of the song’s lines with a steady and assured presence and brings the house down with the song’s towering chorus. It’s a no-nonsense track as well, coming in under the three-minute mark, and hitting its pinnacle with a brief but searing and highly musical guitar solo. The rising Curb Records star co-wrote the song with her husband Nick Wayne and producer Clint Lagerberg. Lagerberg’s production shows he’s an outstanding collaborator for Ellis’ work as he infuses it with the sort of sonic force that makes it undeniable, yet never overwhelming. He knows where the focus should be. Ellis’ voice is the heart and soul of the song, inhabiting every second she’s in your ear, and the surrounding instrumentation serves her well each step of the way. Hannah Ellis has made a convert of me with “Wine Country” and, as a longtime country music fan, I’ll be making it a point to listen to anything she puts out going forward.
She’s a rising star, but I think it won’t be long before you can remove “rising” from the equation and acknowledge her newfound status. Hannah Ellis is here to stay, and the coming years promise to be one hell of a ride. You should hop on board and roll with her across every fun-filled mile.
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