It’s hard to pin Wynonna’s music down into a specific category. Rising to fame in the 1980s alongside her mother, Naomi, her initial sound was all sweet Kentucky-borne country, before morphing into a more polished, contemporary sound on her solo records. Here, on Wynonna and the Big Noise, she once again sheds the musical identities of her past and moves to a rhythm that is entirely her own. The songs are heartfelt, Wynonna is a vocal powerhouse and her backing band is confident enough to pull off every genre-bending song that Wynonna throws their way.
As you would expect from the album’s name, the louder it’s played, the better: Wynonna truly hits her stride with the more up-tempo songs, from opener Ain’t No Thing to the voodoo beat of You Make My Heart Beat Too Fast. Leaping from strength to strength, the quieter moments on the album (Jesus and a Jukebox, 12-step confessional ballad Things I Leave One) are just as powerful as the more upbeats ones. There are a whole host of guest stars, from Wynonna’s husband and backing drummer Cactus Moser to singer-songwriter and Eagles bass-player Timothy B Schmit, but the spotlight is kept firmly on Wynonna at all times.
At first listen you could maybe call it hard country, or even electric blues, but there’s a contemporary flavour which also suggests pop, despite the stripped-back production. Then again, there’s also a definite tinge of rock to the grinding guitar work and thumping rhythms. It’s a genre-jumping album which promises – and delivers – a lot more than simply “big noise”.