Gin Wigmore – Gravel and Wine

Going by the sheer brilliance of her second record Gravel and Wine, Auckland-born songstress Gin Wigmore ought to be next in line for Australian adoption. Impressive across the board, the album ranks among the more consistently enjoyable releases of the year.

True to its title, Gravel and Wine is a release rough around the edges, riding its own rambunctious electricity. It’s big, bold and its savage aesthetic matches Wigmore’s empowered sass perfectly. Opener Black Sheep sets the tone, Wigmore boasting a rebellious side atop an assertive piano-fuelled stomper. Its rollicking follow-up Man Like That bolsters the album’s punchy first impressions, Wigmore dispensing a swinging reality check to a bachelorette in distress. By the third track, Poison, it’s clear that Wigmore will be an enduring font of charisma throughout Gravel and Wine. Her distinct delivery – nasally bleat best described, also, as an acquired taste – complements razor sharp writing. Combined with the record’s gritty aesthetic, it all adds up to an aggressive outing overall.

Pleasingly, though, Wigmore begins to branch out beyond the first quarter of the album. Gravel and Wine jettisons its preference for raucous, high-octane gems in favour of other avenues to expression. 50s-tinged angst-anthem If Only, without doubt, sits among the best tracks Gravel and Wine has to offer. It sports a classic doo-wop sound infused with an arresting, melodramatic grandeur. The song hits its stride when a majestic string section swells and takes hold. It pierces and, in turn, complements the composition’s heartache beautifully. Wigmore’s softer side is put on show at long last and it’s always a pleasure to see it resurface, the likes of Saturday Smile and Singin’ My Soul professing their own tender touches.

The record remains fresh until the end despite an obvious penchant for dense, gritty textures. Morose inclusion Happy Ever After and rockabilly duet Sweet Hell (featuring producer Butch Walker) fit out the late stages of the album and secure an enjoyable finale. It’s easy to retain enthusiasm for Gravel and Wine, a phenomenon owed, in part, to the fact that there’s been some effort expended to render the tracks separate and distinct despite certain aesthetic commonalities.

Ultimately, that’s the album’s greatest strength: it is, on the whole, rock solid. By the end, it’s a real challenge to detect a serious chink in its armour. Commercially, Gravel and Wine has plenty to offer and, pleasingly, its potential singles are mobbed by immensely enjoyable supporting tracks. All in all, Wigmore is in excellent, electrifying form here, brandishing a veritable smorgasbord of songs to cherish.