If you don’t know much about country music, you might think that it’s an inhospitable place for women. With all the talk of traditional values and machismo, you might think a strong woman would be too threatening to country music fans. But all you have to do is take a quick look back through country music history to see how wrong you are. Check out the way that Loretta Lynn ruled her household, or the way that June Carter mocked Johnny Cash’s strutting in “Jackson.” Strong country women have been around for a long time, and Staci Stork’s Bad History showcases an even newer model of strong country woman – not just a woman who has her man firmly in hand, but one who doesn’t need a man at all.
There’s no traditional romance to be found on Bad History, not a single sentimental love song. Instead, there is song after song about love gone wrong and a woman who’s going to be just fine on the other side of it. In “Give It Up,” there’s a woman who puts a gender twist on the masculine wishful thinking of songs like Toby Keith’s “A Little Less Talk and A Lot More Action” by telling the good-looking player at the bar to shut up and take her home already. And in “You Only Live Once” and “Wrong Just Right,” there are rabidly independent young women who are determined to make mistakes and bad decisions simply because they’re her decisions to make.
This is country pop in the style of Miranda Lambert, with all the rock guitars and “don’t tell me what to do” attitude you’d expect from bar-ready country songs. Bad History rarely slows down the tempo, and even when it does, as in the mournful “Stars,” there’s plenty of fiery regret underneath the crooning to keep things interesting. It’s just one more reminder that you need to put away your outdated notions about country music and gender roles.
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