Thanks to Taylor Swift, talented teen females now have a career track that's way more fulfilling than folding sweaters at The Gap. Guidance counselors everywhere have updated their brochures to include a choice of "Move to Nashville and Become a Singer/Songwriter." If you're Bailey Bryan, now 19, you did this when you were a high school sophomore. And with her debut EP, she's officially putting Robbie Knievel on notice: his status as Sequim, Wash.'s biggest celebrity is in play.
Youth performers in the pop world generally flout their age, emphasizing songs about sophistication and experience. But pop/country, where Bryan squarely lands, welcomes freaks and geeks. Bryan's opener and single "Own It" celebrates her inability to dance or party past 9:30. It's good-humored fun and works as an instant-likeable anthem for all walks of life. While that's the EP standout, a close second is the closer "Used To." Bryan slows things down and indulges in some homesick blues, the price tag for chasing big dreams. If you liked Fergie's "Big Girls Don't Cry," you'll probably dig on this.
Bryan's breathy delivery and sweet tone are impressive. Even on songs with some rapid-fire diction, she makes it sound easy. It makes sense when she cites Drake and Chance the Rapper as heroes. She's still finding her footing as a writer - while each of the five tracks were co-written by Bryan, there's always at least a couple others in support. Plus, there may be a little first-time shyness. "Scars" is purportedly about the teen's scoliosis operation. But lyrically it keeps things as general as an inspirational poster. It's still a winning sentimental tune, though. Bryan's voice can rescue and elevate an otherwise ordinary song. This young lady has some definite gifts, and the move to Nashville was a smart one. Check out her video for "Own It," which cleverly takes place in her smartphone (the millennial's means of expression). She hasn't done much yet, but it looks good "So Far."