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Caylee Hammack: If It Wasn’t For You (Snakefarm Records) 14th August 2020


Music Republic Magazine – Joint Album of The Month (August)


5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)



Pretty much new to the UK, exciting American country artist Cayleee Hammack drops her fabulous debut album “If It Wasn’t For You” in 10 days time – and we are tipping her for big success on the back of it.

Caylee – who currently has two Academy Of Country Music (ACM)) Awards nominations – co-wrote and co-produced the 13-track collection,.

It features appearances by country superstar Reba McEntire, Ashley McBryde and Tenille Townes. Reba also appears in the video to the fun single “Redhead”, which you can watch below…

Directed by Justin Clough, the clip takes viewers back to a little redhead’s childhood, living life in a double-wide trailer as her parents attempt to handle their daughter’s fervour.  Caylee’s dynamic performance revels in the nostalgia.

“This song was inspired by an older cousin of mine with fiery red hair,” she explains. “You don’t hear about redheads very much in songs, so I simply wanted to write one for her and all the redheads in my family.

“Then, Reba came into the studio and transformed this song. She helped me create an anthem for all redheads. Whether you get it naturally or find it in a bottle, this is for the firecrackers!”

“I feel like I’m airing all of my dirty laundry on this album in the hope of others feeling that honesty and vulnerability, and in it, finding a safe haven to be themselves,” says Caylee. “I want the nitty-gritty to shine through, that’s where the stories are. Every song on this record has a true story behind it, and I can’t wait to tell those stories once people listen to the album!”

Caylee grew up in Ellaville, Georgia, braving a medical scare and coming out the other side of a bad love that was the catalyst for her turning down a scholarship to Belmont University and ultimately arriving in Nashville. She knew what dream to follow when at 13-years-old, she saw Loretta Lynn in concert at the Columbus Civic Centre.

Capitol Nashville recording artist Caylee – released by Spinefarm Records in the UK – has opened for the likes of big box office country acts Eric Church, Dierks Bentley, Miranda Lambert, Trisha Yearwood and Brothers Osborne, and performed at some of country music’s biggest festivals.

The 13 tracks on her debut long player opens with the rousing Shania meets Dolly-style “Just Friends ” – that starts off as the album means to go on, great fun and top quality…Big shout out to the album’s co-producer Mikey Reaves for his stellar production values and great ear. The single “Redhead” is a stone cold killer cut, featuring country Queen Reba McEntire.

“Looking For A Lighter” slows the pace with a lovely mid-tempo track where Caylee backs off of the raunchy delivery and shows great vocal control. “Preciatcha” holds on to that mid-tempo mode, with a more modern electro-pop sound. “Sister” is a classy piece of song writing, which tells the story of a busted heart but a female sibling always there for emotional support.

Title track “Just Like You” is a sassy attitude track in the same infectious commercial territory as the wonderful Norwegian pop queen Sigrid. This is uber-radio friendly and ripe for a crossover hit, potentially opening Caylee up to the mainstream. “King Sized Bed”, like a lot of the material here, knows how to deliver a sing-along hook.

Caylee’s vocal skills are really to the fore in the quieter less-pop-more-country tracks such as the superb “Forged In The Fire”.  Light and shade galore when Caylee serves the song, and goes though the gears from first to fifth when the material calls for power or for a more  chilled approach.

Her phrasing is immaculate on “Family Tree”, and I love the way she spits out the word “Tupperware”. Wonder how many songs have that brand name in ’em?  Plenty of “whoah whoa whoa whoas” for the ear-worm effect. Her natural vibrato is very Dolly-like, which is somehow endearing.

There’s been a fair few female country artists crop up across a decade or so, seemingly trying to replace Shania – or at least their management and record labels desperately think they can make it happen. }

But no one has come close to being as good, as classy, as gifted vocally or who has the strength of songs and the commercial appeal that the Shania had. On top of Ms Twain’s own brilliance, her secret weapon being her producer (and ex-hubbie) “Mutt” Lange.


Dare I say, I think we may well have just found “the next big thing” when it comes to female country artists. Well, I just said it! I am not daft and saying Caylee Hammack is “the next Shania Twain” – which the record label’s marketing teams would love, I am sure. Caylee is the next Caylee and her own woman/artist.

But I am saying that Cayleee Hammack has a huge talent, is a great singer and this album has a set of really, really, really cool, and commercial songs.

Songs that are a cut above the normal Nashville Music Row conveyor belt of mediocrity and blatant formulaic chasing of hits. * No tractors, fishing, black top roads or swilling down beer at the local honky tonk or roadhouse here, folks”. *

Ashley McBryde and Tenille Townes guest on the excellent “Mean Something”. But Caylee doesn’t need propping up with star names. She’s got it going on, in her own right. “Small Town Hypocrite” is a standout for me. Stripped down singer-songwriter territory, where that innate vibrato adds big value to a lovely song.

Cayleee is a singer and she’s a songwriter. Yes. She is also a very gifted storyteller and this cut is a fine example of that. Production on this track is faultless. Her emotional-investment is quite something.

Penultimate track “Gold” pares the production down to the bone; just Caylee’s reverb-soaked vocal and acoustic guitar on a bluesy number, where we are lulled into thinking this is a gentle laid back vocal throughout.

But get to 1.20 and Cayleee must have had a second Weetabix or a can of Red Bull (other cereal and energy drink brands are available!!!), and gives it some welly, vocally. Out comes the throaty rasp and the Janis Joplin power.

Closer “New Level Of Life” does veer into Shania vibes, with that almost spoken word meets attitude style – breaking down some of the lyric that she did so well….

You remember the, “So you’re Brad Pitt..a rocket scientist” spoken word bit in the smash hit “That Don’t Impress Me Much”…..Caylee adopts that same quirky ‘trick’ a few times across this record and I’d drop that for the next release, or the Shania references will continue.

For a debut album, Caylee has really shone and delivered the quality of songs and performances – not one vocal note out of place here – that an artist with a dozen albums to their name would be thrilled to have created.

But this is Caylee’s very first and leaves me with an excited feeling for her future….Bravo.


By Simon Redley



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