It’s been some journey over the last five years for Hailey Whitters. Since releasing her debut she’d fallen out of love with where she was going, stopped to take stock, then realised she needed to follow The Dream. And that’s in a literal sense. Her new album starts at her beginning, follows through her emotional journey, then ends at ‘Living The Dream’. That’s where things have turned out pretty good.
One of the most striking thing about The Dream is how much Whitters’ vocals are at the front of the mix, you can hear every word and that only enhances the power of the lyrics. There’s no autotune or hiding things in the mix here, songs like ‘Ten Year Town’ and ‘Red Wine & Blue’ are all the better for hearing the rawness of the Iowa native’s voice.
And those lyrics are the other striking thing, whether it’s the personal emotion of a song like ‘Red Wine & Blue’, or the intimate details of ‘Janice At The Hotel Bar’, or the wit of ‘Dream, Girl’ (“Cause you’re someone else’s dream, girl”) or ‘Heartland’ (“You gotta let your heart land”) that hide some really blue moments (“Standin’ all alone in your party dress / Confetti in the floor, hair’s all a mess / Yeah, you’ve been here before”).
The fact that a couple of covers by outstanding songwriters like Brent Cobb and Chris Stapleton are included, and they feel totally at home with the rest of the songs, tells you everything you need to know about the quality of writing on show.