Welcome to The Singles Bar, a review series focused on new single and song releases.
Cuts and bruises are signs you truly lived. It is at our most vulnerable and broken that life reveals its darkest affirmations, replenishing our cracked bones and torn skin. “I’m stronger when the waves crash,” country up and comer JoLivi stresses on her sophomore single “Crooked Crown,” a playful pronouncement of her valiant sojourn to the mountaintop. “If I take a fall while everyone’s looking, just tell me if my crown is crooked,” she yields, a mischievous gleam delineating acceptance of sorrow and finding the silver lining.
“I don’t need another hero / Don’t save me on your white horse,” she sings, dismantling sexist tropes in popular culture while she’s at it. Musically, JoLivi brews the spunky, downtown pop sheen of Lady Antebellum with the fierce, gutsy spirit of Jo Dee Messina, while coalescing her own jaunty sensibilities. “Oh, whoever brings the sunshine, bring my girls and a bottle of wine / Oh, I can’t help but get in trouble / I try to keep it humble / My momma didn’t teach me everything…”
On the song’s message, she says, “‘Crooked Crown’ is a song about giving everything you got…and even if you fall just pick yourself up, dust yourself off and fix that crown.”
Coming off a series of pop-centric EPs, including 2016’s criminally-overlooked Just for You, it is jarring to see such an abrupt stylistic shift, no matter how convincing. Earlier this year, JoLivi declared her love for country music and wanting to record a full-on twang-y collection, saying, “A Bonnie Raitt album…that kind of album is what I’d want to do, kind of country, kind of not.” “Crooked Crown” is decidedly pampered with pop-country powder, allowing JoLivi’s vocal to push and pull against the bouncy production choices, from ample electric guitar ripping in the background to the “Pontoon”-style whistles breezing past the eardrums. The Hawaiian-bred singer-songwriter exhibits vast potential, and her forthcoming country debut EP will make or break her stardom.
Grade: 3 out of 5