At the beginning of final 12 months, Lola Kirke was struggling to seek out work as an actor or a musician. The star of Mistress America was advised that her physique and age could be an issue—explanations she understandably discovered to be “crazy-making.” There’s some irony in the truth that she turned to nation music to seek out inventive freedom: Within the style’s mainstream incarnation, at any price, the requirements imposed on ladies performers are hardly much less punitive or limiting than these of Hollywood or pop. However then every little thing about Kirke’s second album, Girl for Sale, is a little bit of an anachronism.
Kirke has written off her debut, 2018’s stately Americana effort Coronary heart Head West, as “dour,” and stated that the enjoyment of ’80s and ’90s nation is the place her coronary heart actually lies. We could also be within the midst of a Shania-aissance, however on Girl for Sale, Kirke leaps again additional to the period of Wynonna Judd, Pam Tillis, and Actual Love-era Dolly Parton. That is huge, blousy, nation pop that buffs its pedal metal to a chrome gleam, offsets snappy manufacturing with misty-eyed longing, and doesn’t ever fairly really feel full till it’s soundtracking a big-city film filled with promise and power-walking. It’s a sound filled with nostalgia and with it a built-in sense of consolation.
Whereas Kirke didn’t strategy conventional nation labels with the album, she discovered that the majority indies weren’t , both: Girl for Sale falls between the cracks of the capital-R Realness of fellows singing about vans/beer/fishing/and so forth. and the small-r realness of songwriters who stake their work on earthier kinds of autobiography. Though her lyrics about misaligned relationships really feel onerous gained, Kirke sees the magic within the performative pleasures of this ritzy sound, how its AM glory brings a bit of heroism to a home life, making ache you must have dodged and longing you must have gotten over really feel spotlight-worthy for a couple of minutes. It is sensible, too, that she discovered a house at Third Man, a label constructed on the urge to embody an aesthetic to its fullest extent.
And Kirke goes for it on Girl for Sale’s nice opening run. “Damaged Households” encompasses regular disco-ball sparkle, pedal metal curlicues that really feel as if they need to hint condensation love hearts within the sky, and a refrain that might be an anthem. A duet with Courtney Marie Andrews, it’s an emphatic, bruised account of two lovers attempting to make use of each other to heal their damaged pasts: “We’re two wrongs attempting to make it proper,” Kirke observes, superbly, by means of a mouthful of pathos and twang. The tempo peps up: “If I Win” virtually saunters, in thrall to Belinda Carlisle’s saltwater-fresh pop and Cyndi Lauper’s strut, but it surely’s lonely, too. Laying out her needs for a misplaced alternative, Kirke dials up the suggestive facet of her voice till it turns into barely pinched: She’s made weary by the restrictions of the fantasy, “drunk sufficient to suppose you consider me too/However not drunk sufficient to imagine it’s true.” She pivots once more with “Higher Than Any Drug,” a saucy, sparky, easy come-on filled with Dolly coquettishness and the supreme confidence of a final look within the mirror earlier than heading out. It’s pure pastiche, proper all the way down to the cheesecake spoken-word admission of infatuation within the center eight, and pure delight.