Kentucky-based Jasmine Poole chose a stage name, Wonky Tonk, that underlines well the goofier, cutesy side of her album Stuff We Leave Behind while at the same time undermining its more serious side. With vocals that span melancholy to giddiness and instrumentation that follows suit seemingly effortlessly, Poole offers a country-imbibed album that will capture the attention of anyone who doesn’t mind a dollop of the genre in their listening experience.
“Turn the Radio On” starts with an a cappella performance by the artist who is joined a few moments into the track by a number of other female vocalists. The song has been manipulated to make Poole’s vocals sound like they are coming from various places—on each side, from behind, and straight up in the listener’s face. This song creates confidence in the listener that Poole can, indeed, sing. The guitar-driven, upbeat “Cleveland” shatters the quiet comfort of its predecessor with a cheerful, quirky set of vocals set on energetic drums. It’s almost hectic without being overwhelming, a toe-tapping, smile-inducing number that touches upon some heavy social commentary on the running of big business.
The quirkiness makes it to the twangy guitar line of “Billings, MT”, a mid-tempo number that, while still retaining a certain fun atmosphere, also brings in a line of heaviness through the lyrics and the vocalisation chosen to deliver them. The same style of guitar line carries through the mid-tempo, gentle “Denmark” while the vocals take on a certain sweetness not heard yet in Stuff We Leave Behind.
The guitar twang takes on a serious country tone in the upbeat “Washington Avenue”—it seems at times that both the musicians and the vocalist are holding back, as if they are uncertain of the way the crowd will receive their song. It gives the track a certain endearing shyness.
Typical country melancholy seeps through every note of the warm and touching “Tennessee” with a delicate piano adding just enough extra emotion in an already loaded tune. Poole jumps next into an alternative rock-imbibed affair with “Montague Road” before returning to her more typical country sounds in the ballad-like “Parkland Avenue” in which the almost nasal-sounding vocals bring a degree of innocence to the song.
The guitar and drum-led “Saffin Avenue” kicks things into high gear, with an enthusiastic piano bringing in even more energy to this toe-tapping number. The gentle “One for the Juke” blends in a few genres. Built on a mostly country frame, hints of alternative rock, folk rock, and indie rock are weaved into a quiet, almost soothing number. Stuff We Leave Behind ends with “Keri On” which is almost as gentle a goodbye as we got of a welcome.
Pictures provided by Working Brilliantly.