Kristy Lee Cook has been gone from the country scene for a while now, and most people, including myself, thought her time in the spotlight was over. Her single from 2008, ’15 Minutes of Shame’, only managed to reach #28 in the Billboard Country Charts, and despite her popularity on American Idol it appeared that she wasn’t a recording artist to last. However, as more and more artists are struggling with the agendas of 19 Recordings, she was possibly suffering from lack of promotion and is now signed to Broken Bow Records, which also plays host to the recordings of Jason Aldean and Dustin Lynch, so already things are looking far more promising for Kristy. Her first single under her new label, ‘Airborne Ranger Infantry’ has been officially released to country radio today (Monday 15th October) and promises to really put Kristy on the map.
The song is based around her father’s experiences in the horrific Vietnam War and the poems he wrote detailing them, not able to physically speak about the events. According to The Boot, Kristy spent much of her childhood poring over these poems, and for her new single decided to turn these poems into song, which some additional lyrics from her point of view. The result could have been a disaster, but in fact it’s a beautiful ode to all serving soldiers past and present, and the difficulties they face(d). As expected, it’s a ballad, characterised by delicately picked acoustic guitar leading the song, and an accordion accompanying, an interesting but appropriate addition that isn’t present in many mainstream country songs these days. A steel guitar is also used in parts, emphasising its country roots.
However, these roots do not need to be emphasised, as as soon as the song begins, Kristy’s musical comfort zone is obvious. The vocal melody is traditionally country, and treats the song with grace and respect, as it is delightfully understated but effective. It allows attention to be focused on the lyrics, which are very powerful, helped by the fact that much of them were transcribed straight from Kristy’s father’s poems without edit, and therefore accurate depictions feelings and experiences of Vietnam War soldier. Lines such as ‘the war’s not over when the fighting ends’ are particularly poignant, and as someone who has studied the First World War to a fair degree, I understand that men remain traumatised from they have seen, heard, felt and lived for the rest of their lives. It is something very unnatural, as basic human nature does not wish to harm or murder, and Kristy’s father is clearly no exception to those who still struggle to cope with the memories today. This is even more prevalent for the Vietnam War, as it is historically one of the most horrific wars ever to have taken place.
I genuinely was emotionally affected and moved by the second verse, ‘I left my best friend lying in a pool of blood, while I crawled away through the brush and mud, if I could choose to go back again, I’d die lying there next to him, I still see his face when I close my eyes, as I won’t forget his sacrifice.’ To the point where even now he’d be willing to give up everything in his life since the war just to die with him, his companion, and not have to live without him. The words are very powerful and instantly make me picture the scene every time I listen to it and I get a lump in my throat. This is coming from someone who is rarely moved to tears by music, so this is definitely something special. Kristy’s ability to tell the story through her father’s words and make them as equally or perhaps even more moving sets her apart from a lot of today’s country scene and I believe she has a lot more to give. Something to note is the style of her voice. She has a similar tone to both Martina McBride and Kellie Pickler in my opinion, but is pitched about halfway between, with her own stamp on it, particularly in the twang inflections in her voice. There is a great storytelling nature about it but also with the ability to belt if needs be.
This is a truly beautiful song and hopefully other people will hear of it and allow her to reach a position on the charts that justifies its beauty. The single will be available to buy from tomorrow (Tuesday 16th October) on iTunes so please do pick up a copy.
The accompanying album, as yet untitled, is due for release next year, and will be produced by Jason Aldean, which will be interesting.
For now, request it on your local radio station, and you can listen to the full track here: http://www.theboot.com/2012/10/12/kristy-lee-cook-airborne-ranger-infantry/
CMTT Music Contributor
For my blog that examines issues in country music and responds to the latest news with my opinion, go to forthecountryrecord.tumblr.com. For ranting, funny retweets and all round silliness, follow me on Twitter @planmymistake