In recent years contemporary country has come under fire for the generic nature of many of the genre’s hits. Assumptions that its audience lacks an attention span have led to virtually indistinguishable ditties, replacing heartfelt storytelling with cliché buzzwords. Unlike some of her peers, Georgia native Caryn Womack’s songs are rich in detail and emotion, finely crafted four-minute sagas that showcase her gift for composing. Her memorable new EP Til the Day I Die, a five-song set recorded in Nashville, reveals a budding talent who deserves more notice.
A self-professed late-blooming songwriter, Womack only began putting pen to paper a few years ago. However, in that short period, she’s blossomed into a promising artist, developing an admirable written voice that retains a sense of optimism even in the midst of hardship. Not one to shy away from darker subjects (poverty, mourning a deceased love, fleeing an abusive spouse), Womack’s vivid imagery is the cornerstone of her nuanced compositions.
The EP’s songs take flight on the strength of Womack’s honeyed trill. There’s a quiet fortitude beneath her soothing tone, hints of steel mixed in with the sweetness. At times the characters on Til the Day I Die seem to be barely hanging on, but Womack effectively voices both their vulnerability and tenacity.
That resilience is clearly evident on the rollicking album opener “Stuck.” Drawing on elements of the Bakersfield sound, the song chronicles the deferred dreams of a young woman who spends her life entrenched in a suffocating small town existence. Ultimately realizing that only she can save herself, she stows away on a Greyhound in search of new life. While she claims to be “living on luck,” it’s her indomitable spirit that leads to her freedom.
The ethereal title track acts as both a lament to a lost love and celebration of that love’s lasting impact. When the narrator recalls the night her beau “swore our lives were never gonna be the same,” she underscores the tragedy of his unintended prophecy. Bolstered by sublime steel guitar, the bittersweet song is truly beautiful.
However, the most poignant song on the EP is the potent album closer “Just Drive.” As Womack slowly reveals the reasons behind a woman hitchhiking her way across the country (“It started out slow/Fighting about what we know/But words weren’t the only thing you liked to throw”), listeners will be struck by the narrator’s steady resolve in the face of an uncertain future.
If given the chance, the songs on Til the Day I Die should help connect Womack with the larger audience she deserves. In the bridge of “I’ll Still Have You” Womack asserts, “Don’t be disappointed when life doesn’t turn out like you planned/Success is measured by the lives we touch with caring hands.” Til The Day I Die should certainly touch more than a few hearts.