Country singer Mickey Guyton presented her debut as a closing chapter rather than an introduction: “Remember his name is the culmination of the last 10 years of my life in Nashville, âshe explained. This is a crucial distinction for the rising songwriter, who has spent the past decade in some sort of Music Row purgatory. While it’s common for budding country artists to have their careers stuck on the path to widespread recognition, Guyton has faced a disproportionate time in limbo as a black woman in a predominantly white industry. Although she signed to Universal in 2011 and released a minor hit in 2015 “Better Than You Left Me”, it took another five years before Guyton even got the chance to record a real album. .
The timing of Guyton’s rise into the mainstream of country music over the past year and a half isn’t necessarily a coincidence. George Floyd’s protests last summer were a rude wake-up call for the industry, highlighting its long history of racial exclusion just as the genre had enjoyed several years of uninterrupted pop and hip-hop crossover success. Amid Nashville’s groping attempts to correct the course, Guyton appeared on stage at the ACM Awards in September 2020 to sing âWhat Are You Gonna Tell Her?â, A striking ballad that clearly speaks to the lack of opportunities for girls and black women in the United States It was a historic moment, although Guyton has long been skeptical of these kinds of opportunities: New Yorker this year asked about the performance. âI remember that there were corporate events where, in order for the company to be beautiful, who had the front and center among the artists they are passionate about? “
Guyton’s unique ability to speak out about the injustices she has faced, both inside and outside the industry, informs many Remember his namethe strongest moments. “My daddy worked day and night / For an old house and a used car,” she sings on “Black Like Me.” “Just to live this beautiful life / It shouldn’t be twice as hard.” Her voice, which carries a hint of her Texan upbringing, has the same unwavering warmth of hitmakers like Carrie Underwood, bringing power and patience to songs that are likely to ruffle the country’s old guard. On “Do You Really Wanna Know”, she sings about therapy, recovering from alcoholism and learning the grudge of little words. “If I tell you the truth, will your heart be big enough to hold it?” She asks, knowing that even in a genre that prides itself on straightforward honesty, her perspective could be a barrier to entry.
Despite Guyton’s singular point of view, Remember his name strives for universality, and the more optimistic moments play with the same genre conventions that once trapped her. âRosÃ©â is a nod to the classic tune of drinking beer and country whiskey – âYou can call it whatever you like,â she admits in the chorus, âbut everyone loves a bon clichÃ© â- whileâ Smoke â, produced by pre-1989 Taylor Swift collaborator Nathan Chapman is a rare success in marrying trap beats with banjo and pedal steel. Guyton joins forces with Chapman again for the triumphant “Higher”, where the pop-rock bravado that bolstered Swift’s early songs like “Sparks Fly” and “Fearless” now serves as a pedestal for Guyton and a gospel choir. full. It’s pure serotonin in stadium concerts, destined to become a staple at his concerts.
Remember his name falters when it sticks to the status quo – the bland country-pop production that has come to dominate the radio waves. The title song’s cosmic guitar notes and wispy piano chords are meant to serve as an inspiring opening, but the abstract lyrics about overcoming adversity could be sung by anyone. The same finesse permeates the catchy “Different” and suitable for “Dancing in the Living Room” wedding playlists. While some may feel empowered by the accessibility of these songs, they dilute the uniqueness that makes the rest of the album so striking. As country music continues to struggle with its racial calculus, Guyton has had no qualms about calling for the complacency of his white peers, and it’s a relief that his challenge has translated into the music. To his favorite, Remember his name captures its steadfastness and grace in equal measure.
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