The Trishas ‘High, Wide & Handsome' (The Trishas Music)
The Trishas haven't even been making music together four years, but you wouldn't know it by listening to their first full-length album, “High, Wide & Handsome.”
Roots music fans who get an earful of their tight, sisterly harmonies may be ready to swear that the all-female quartet is really a family band, but Jamie Wilson, Liz Foster, Kelley Mickwee and Savannah Welch are only related in music and spirit.
The singer/songwriter/musicians were initially brought together in January 2009 to give a one-off performance at a tribute to Welch's father, well-known Oklahoma-bred songwriter Kevin Welch, but it's easy to hear on their debut LP the sonic chemistry that quickly bonded them together.
The Trishas — their band name is a tip of the hat to Owasso-based Grammy winner Trisha Yearwood, who scored a 1990s smash with the Kevin Welch cowritten “That's What I Like About You” — specialize in an authentic, rootsy brand of country that doesn't get much play on mainstream country radio anymore. From the toe-tapping opening track “Mother of Invention,” it's apparent the Austin, Texas-based foursome has grounded its sound in classic country traditions rather than '80s arena rock sound.
That's not to say that the wistful ode “Strangers,” the thoughtful two-step “Liars & Fools” or the rawly confessional “Cheater's Game” come across as old-fashioned, since The Trishas never fail to sound fresh and contemporary. But their songs feel as if they were crafted by real musicians on a back porch somewhere rather than manufactured by committee and slickly polished to guarantee maximum radio play and arena readiness.
The band members wrote or co-wrote 14 of the 15 tracks (counting the bonus track), collaborating with acclaimed songsmiths Natalie Hemby, Bruce Robison and Jim Lauderdale as well as Welch's father Kevin and brother Dustin. Wilson partnered with Evan Felker, frontman for Oklahoma red dirt band the Turnpike Troubadours, to pen “Little Sweet Cigars,” a Southern gothic story song in the vein of Dolly Parton's best work.
All seasoned musicians, The Trishas all have influences ranging far beyond country, and the follow-up to their 2010 introductory EP “They Call Us The Trishas” reflects their diverse backgrounds. The acoustic ballads “Looking at Me” and “Gold & Silver” have a timeless quality that brings to mind venerable mountain airs, while “Cold Blooded Love” resembles an especially slinky come-on from a Motown girl group, at least until the fiddle takes over. The ladies sing the blues on “Over Forgiving You” and “One Down,” and their jazzy torch song “Rainin' Inside” openly pays homage to Billie Holiday.
The Trishas will close out Norman's 2012 Summer Breeze Concert Series with a free show at 7 p.m. Sunday at Lions Park. The concert is part of the third annual Luncheon on the Grass arts festival, which will feature hands-on arts activities and entertainment from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Sunday at the park. For more information, call 307-9320 or go to www.pasnorman.org.
— Brandy McDonnell