When it comes to females in country music, there’s a formidable crop of up-and-comers, with Leah Turner poised as a leader of the pack. With her self-titled debut EP (out today), she shines as bright as any of country’s hottest stars, her voice unique, her style distinct and her songs endlessly catchy. The only problem with the Columbia Recording Artist’s EP is that it feels too short, running just about 18 minutes.
The EP kicks off with Turner’s Top-40 hit, “Take the Keys,” setting the stage perfectly for a compilation of hard-hitting and bluesy country/rock songs. Her voice is instantly recognizable, most comparable to a country version of Pink. That distinctive quality shines through the EP, which journeys through softer songs and more hard-hitting tracks. It’s second single “Pull Me Back” that shows off her tender side, an ode to the girl who’s prone to run or pull away when things get tough. “Even when I push you away,” Turner pleads, her voice poignant with vulnerability, “want you to pull me back.”
“Bless My Heart” is a stomping tongue-in-cheek prayer for a bad girl seeking redemption. The track sounds like the perfect opener for a live show to immediately grab the audience’s attention, as she proclaims, “I’ve always been this way, Tabasco in my veins.” The lyrics paint the scene perfectly and you can imagine Turner in the setting, an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other. “Bless my heart, sitting in a Sunday pew, short white dress and these black studded leather boots,” She sings. “I’m sorry for the way I’ve been bending a couple rules, take me to the light, get me out of the dark and bless my heart.”
“Beat Up Bronco” changes the pace again, a nostalgic and sweet metaphor for love and the way it may get beat up, but will continue to roll down the road like a beat up Bronco. Turner absolutely shines on this slower offering, but the tempo quickly changes for the album’s final track, “My Finger.” In comparison to “Bronco,” this is the ultimate kiss-off song, berating a cheating fiance. “You won’t see me dressed in white, won’t be no wedding night…” Turner sneers powerfully. “Forget the honeymoon, I’ll never say I do…Take your ring and here’s my finger.” She channels her inner Kelly Clarkson here, the driving guitars and man-done-wrong theme proving an effective formula for Turner on this girl power anthem.
Leah Turner will be joining Brad Paisley on tour this summer and this collection of songs (all co-written by Turner) is the perfect way to introduce her to country fans who may not yet be familiar with her. There’s something for everyone here, showing Turner’s diversity as an artist. With her songs seemingly perfect for radio and her voice the perfect mix of rasp and power, there are big things in store for Leah Turner and this EP is just the beginning.