Michelle Billingsley sings about a whole lot of subjects considered taboo for polite women. Though you might not catch it on first listen—she wraps her charmingly cutting lyrics in boisterous acoustic strumming, her dryly dark sense of humor and a (whip)smart-assed vocal delivery. It all sounds a bit like Emmylou Harris went through the looking glass.
Billingsley’s new debut album for Western Myth Records, Not the Marrying Kind—produced by multi-instrumentalist Matt Brown—is an Americana gem. Out of the gates, Brown made the sage choice of putting legendary producer/engineer Brian Deck (Modest Mouse, Josh Ritter, Iron & Wine) behind the boards—and the drum kit—for the sessions. The resulting record is genuine, irreverent, unique and fearless. Its spare, moody vibe draws you in close with your guard down, and once you pause long enough to get your head around the songs, the depth of Billingsley’s talent comes sharply into focus. It’s a deceptively heavy record, yet somehow it’s still undeniably fun—fantastic whimsy mixed with black comedy and brisk little melodies that make the journey all the more powerful, human and affecting.