By Megan Bledsoe
The best way to describe Elaina Kay’s Issues in one word would be "interesting." It's intriguing from the moment she starts singing on the opener, unashamedly telling us all about her "daddy issues," or perhaps the daddy issues of this character. It's certainly an interesting way to open an album and perhaps even more of a statement on the opener of a debut. It unfolds into an engaging little eight-track album that's a solid foundation for Elaina Kay.
The greatest strength here is the sound. It's a nice mix of country and rock elements, with The Texas Gentlemen as the backing band. There's quite a lot of energy packed into this, with fun, up-tempo numbers like "Rodeo" and "Pull Your Own Weight," and this is balanced well with quieter moments like "Cheating me Out of Love" and "Lose a Little."
The songwriting is solid and fresh throughout, always holding the listener's attention, but there's not really a particular moment of lyrical epiphany. Instead, this album leans more heavily on the melodies and the hooks to make its points, and Elaina Kay is a fine melodic composer. As for the strongest song lyrically, it's probably "Cheating Me Out of Love," with the simple honesty in lines like, "I can't get over this, at least not as quickly as you want me to. I wanted to, I wanted you." It paints a nice picture of the feeling of wanting to forgive someone, knowing you should, wanting things to be right again, but not being able to forgive in spite of yourself.
The vocals are stronger on these quieter, more introspective moments, where the production is scaled back a little to showcase the writing. The production can drown out Kay in places on some of the more upbeat tracks which can in turn occasionally make her harder to understand. This is something that can be ironed out on subsequent records, as Elaina Kay begins to fine-tune her sound.
For fans of that awesome blend of country and rock sensibilities, this is certainly worth checking out. Issues is a fun little record and a solid start for Elaina Kay.