Sarah Gayle Meech is not a Tennesseean - at least, not by birth. Maybe that's what gives her sophomore album, "Tennessee Love Song," more sincerity than a native Volunteer State artist. Her love of the state wasn't bred, but built.
Born and raised in Washington, Meech lived in California before migrating to her current Nashville home. In 2012 she debuted with "One Good Thing" and returns this year with an equally, if not more, impressive set of 15 songs that cover love, loss and grit. It's a lot to take in one collection, and sometimes the themes get repetitive - lonely bars and rainy weather make multiple appearances - but it's certainly got enough power behind it to succeed.
One of her greatest strengths lies in the variety of tones, tunes and tempos she employs. "Tennessee Love Song" starts with a sweet early‐morning love song, "Stormy Weather," that's suited for her birth‐state sibling, Starbucks. Then it launches into the jug‐band style "Love of Mine" and the insatiable toe‐tapper, "Watermelon and Root Beer," which is as down‐home as it sounds.
And that's not a bad thing, especially in an environment where hipsters rejoice in ironic folksiness and solid Americana fans yearn for the days before over-‐produced pop tracks using twangy vocals to masquerade as country tunes. Meech finds a way to bridge both audiences with her celebration of tweaked tradition.
Take standout track "No Mess." Blending country, rock 'n' roll attitude, simplicity and a breakup plight, Meech hits all types of listeners. It's followed by "Nothing's Got a Hold on Me," which graduates from we‐ain't-going-to-take‐it anger to lamentation for lost love.
The same complex stages of a dying relationship show through titular track, which focuses on unrequited love. "Tennessee, I love you, though you're never ever gonna love me," she sings. While others might sing about their love for a locale, she falls for a place that's not yet infatuated with her.
Meech might not have to worry too much longer, however. If "Tennessee Love Song" is any indication, the singer's heyday is close it at hand