Singer/Songwriter Bailey Bigger reinvigorates authentic songwriting on her debut album Coyote Red. Born and raised in Marion, Arkansas, Bigger began writing songs when she was nine years old. In 2017 (at 17) Bigger won “Memphis’ Best Song of 2017” for her original song “Wildflower.” She has been recognized as an up and coming artist by Memphis Magazine and The Commercial appeal. Coyote Red It falls somewhere between folk and country music, depending on the song, but its Bigger’s profound songwriting that makes this album so captivating. There is a truth in Bigger’s lyrics that permeate the soul the moment she starts to sing. Its the type of songwriting that was abundant in a bygone era but is hard to find nowadays. Through 10 tracks Bigger poetically discusses hardship, love, and triumph, all while soothing the listeners soul.
Coyote Red opens with “You Somehow” a beautiful song about learning to trust someone after only encountering pain and heartache. While the truth that runs through this track is bittersweet, its melody is cheerful and up-lifting. “You Somehow” is a portrait of finding your way out of the darkness and finding yourself happier than you could’ve ever imagined. The lyrics will cause your gut to wrench at times but Bigger’s gentle voice reminds you that “You Somehow” is a celebration. The chorus sums up this duality, “Cause I’ve been through fire and flame/And felt a lifetime’s worth of shame/But when we touched I knew you’d turn that around/Cause your truth is on my skin.” “You Somehow” is an honest take on survival and the profound effects love has on our mindset. While you may have only experienced agony, when magic finds you your perspective on your hardships changes. Without these harsh lessons, you would not be who you are, not have the relationships you do, and certainly wouldn’t be where you are now. Bigger draws the same conclusion as she gently croons, “And I’d do it all again to get to you somehow.”
Less is more on Coyote Red, there is no need for heavy beats or overlapping instruments. Bigger is one of those musicians that transports you to an otherworldly place the moment she starts to sing. Bigger is sometimes joined by a backup singer that rounds out some lyrics and the distinct plucking of a banjo. Coyote Red sounds like you’re in the same room as Bigger, watching her strum her guitar and sing to nobody but the microphone. The sound is crisp and professional but still feels like you’re listening to a live version of the album. Some songs lean into Bigger’s country roots while others are in a vein of folk. The other distinct aspect of Coyote Red is Bigger’s vocal control. Bigger’s voice is soft and warm, she never pushes it, but can modulate it at will. This understanding of where to place her voice results in an evocative performance. Bigger sings with an emotional depth that can translate into wisdom, frustration, and longing, bringing Coyote Red’s lyrics to life.
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Bigger’s artist is out of bounds, with such vulnerable and truthful lyrics, she is singlehandedly bringing classic American songwriting back to life. Bigger understands her medium and the genre she is singing under. What makes country music so good is its honesty, its willingness to be real about the good and the bad, and more often than not the link between the two. There is an effortlessness to Coyote Red, Bigger never feels like she’s trying to write an incredible song, she just does. There were multiple times where Bigger’s lyrics felt akin to Leonard Cohen, Merle Haggard, and Bob Dylan. Its not only that Bigger has a way with words, its that she knows how to perform those words to their full effect, which is rare.
Coyote Red is a thought provoking album that seems to cleanse any negativity you’ve been housing inside yourself by the end of it. Bigger sings of her troubles, her frustrations, and her happiness with heartfelt melodies, which make you long for the summer months. Coyote Red has some of the best songwriting I’ve heard in a long time. This is a remarkable debut album from Bailey Bigger that makes me hungry for what she’s going to do next. Bigger deserves every accolade she’s received and sings with a maturity some musicians never access. Don’t miss Coyote Red, out now!
by Jennifer Munoz