Becky Wiles Releases New Album 'Free Kind of Me'
Wisconsin’s Becky Wiles will build an outstanding musical career for
herself on the back of releases such as her debut album Free Kind of Me.
It finds the singer/songwriter returning to her first love, music, after
pursuing alternate paths for several years including receiving a
journalism degree from the University of Madison at Wisconsin and
serving in the Peace Corps for two years. Producer Jake Johnson’s
stellar skills help her shepherd this release into the world and his
intuitive understanding of how to best frame Wiles’ talents enables her
to put her best artistic foot forward with this collection.
The thirteen-track album opens with the rollicking “Call Me Crazy”. Her
talents as a lyricist are apparent within a few lines and pair well with
the fiddle accompaniment’s wild, careening energy. Juxtaposing her cool,
reserved vocals against the song’s shuffle tempo makes for a compelling
match. The title song continues mining a classic country vein and her
songwriting chops continue to shine bright. One of the song’s musical
highlights is the ghostly pedal steel presence coloring the track. It
brings a plaintive touch to the song’s emotional architecture that helps
embed it in the listener’s consciousness. Wiles delivers one of the
album’s best vocals.
The spartan yet dramatic musical landscape of “Alright by You” is
essentially a duet between Wiles’ vocals and elegant piano
accompaniment. Her singing reaches dizzying emotive heights during this
song and her undeniable talent for revealing songcraft excels as well.
The jazzy influences present in “Ms. Moxie” is a sharp change in gears
from the preceding tunes and Wiles pulls it off with surprising ease. It
won’t jar listeners unprepared for the 180-degree turn but it will be a
delightful surprise. The presence of horns breaks with the classic
country sound dominating the album’s first five tracks as well. Wiles
has a lot of fun with this performance, and it makes for a contagious
She returns to dyed-in-the-wool singer/songwriter territory with the
track “Send Me”. It’s another stripped-down performance, but she
foregoes the piano of earlier similar efforts in favor of acoustic
guitar and vocals. Her sensitive reading of the song marks it as another
highlight of this release. The sprightly, exuberant bounce of “Co-Pilot”
incorporates fiddle into the mix again for Wiles, and the song’s chorus
rates among the most memorable moments on Free Kind of Me. She
continually shows a distinctive touch with language that makes songs
with familiar subject matter such as this fresh for her audience rather
than tired re-statements of time-tested formulas.
“The Complication” is another piano-driven ballad, but Wiles uses a
full-band performance for this tune. It continues illustrating that the
aforementioned individualistic touch with language and the song’s
impassioned vocal will secure this cut status as one of Free Kind of
Me’s consensus favorites. She closes her debut with the stark beauty of
“Uncommon These Days”, another song hinging on her penchant for
piano-laden compositions, but few will mind. Becky Wiles’ first album
announces the arrival of a major new songwriting talent and hearing its
baker’s dozen worth of songs definitely gives the impression that she’s
walking her true path at last.