A Little Bit Country launched their debut album ‘Whiskey & Wine’ to eager fans at The Aristocrat in Aylesbury on May 28th 2017, but they had already initiated their journey in 2011. Harriet Stewart, a British born singer and fan of country music wanted to write a song for her EP that not only showed the female side of a break up but that included a male perspective too. Her producer Steve Richmond knew just the man, so enlisted the help of his friend and business colleague Paul Adams, a Texas born singer/songwriter, with a very English upbringing. The three locked themselves away in the garden home of SummerHouse Studios in Aylesbury and began writing.
In the meantime Harriet also had to attend university, but on her return in 2014 the duo began playing live venues, including the world famous Pinewood Studios. A Little Bit Country released their debut single, ‘Come To The Crossroads’ in 2015, and then followed that up with another single in 2016 entitled ‘Shot At Loving You’, while they continued working on more songs for their intended album. That album has now arrived in the form of “Whiskey and Wine”, as A Little Bit Country continues working to break down the barriers and the stigma attached to the Country genre in the UK.
Regardless of how they came together, though, ALBC’s first album is wide-ranging, full of confidence, and mostly an emotional ride. Right from the upbeat opening track “Come To The Crossroads”, A Little Bit Country’s music is bursting with personality and originality.
You can hear that they are true lyricists and storytellers, and their music reflects all the elements you wish to hear on a country record. The duo combines a blend of experience, musicality, harmonies and ear-catching melodies to serenade you through the positive and negative emotional sagas of love and life. “Walk On By” captures the emotions left behind from a relationship that has reached its bitter end, but like every memorable song, there are twists.
When ALBC are exploring more diverse territory, they’re just as interesting as when their songs sit in the mainstream country pocket. This happens on the acoustic driven, almost pop-rock crossover “Back On The Road” tinged with Paul’s gritty voice. One of the best tracks on the album has to be the heartfelt duet “As Far As I Can See”, where both Paul and Harriet give sterling vocal performances that fit like glove to hand.
The album has been produced in a way that accentuates the qualities of the music, simplistically, allowing the duo to showcase what they do best – write, sing and play. So when everything is cut back to a gentle comfort zone you can fully savor Harriet’s haunting voice on the exquisite “Barely Sleeping”.
Although there are moments of grit on the record, like “Hell Of A Ride” and the energetic “Trouble”, such snatches of rawness are complemented by the slick, polished sound and the acoustic textures. Almost every moment of powerfully emotive darkness is followed by a moment of hopeful light.
Take for example, “Be Weak”, a song that boasts emotive lyrics, a strong spiritual element and another set of delicious and restrained vocal performances by the duo which is truly impressive.
“Whiskey and Wine” comes off as an album that effectively sits in the middle of Country, yet it could be at the intersection of several genres. In a country market that has room for Eric Church on the one hand and Sugarland on the other, A Little Bit Country is theoretically in the mainstream core.
They could also find success in the smaller roots arenas, or they could just as easily fall through the cracks. But from strictly a musical standpoint, this is a strong debut record that still shows room for growth and maturation in A Little Bit Country’s future.