Runaway June, Smoke, Wine & Whiskey Review
by Constance Tucker
In the dynamic vocal sphere of country music, the release of Smoke, Wine & Whiskey by Runaway June marks a spirited vocal gem in the genre, intertwining heartfelt narratives with an indelible vocal skill that speaks directly to the soul. The backbone of the EP is the harmonious interplay between Stevie Woodward, Natalie Stovall, and Jennifer Wayne with their individual vocal talents but as a powerful collective force that resonates with the essence of country music.
“Make Me Wanna Smoke” ignites the EP with a blaze of emotions, encapsulating the tumultuous dance of desire and detriment. The track, penned by Jason Sellers, Ella Langley, and Bobby Hamrick, orchestrates a vivid portrayal of the push-pull dynamic inherent in a toxic love affair. Woodward’s lead vocals, robust and enveloping, serve as the narrative’s core, around which the trio’s harmonies weave a sonic tapestry that is both angelic and earthy. Brimming with fiddle and rhythmic fervor, the song’s production crafts an atmosphere where the listener can almost feel the heat of the flame they know they should evade.
Transitioning with playful ease, “Fine Wine” offers a refreshing gulp of levity amidst the heartache. This track, a creation of the trio alongside Paul Sikes, is a nod to the age-old adage of drowning sorrows in a bottle, yet it carries a modern twist that is both witty and relatable. Woodward’s vocals are tinged with a country twang yet as smooth as the wine they sing of, and the impeccable harmonies shape a memorable melody. The song’s arrangement is a masterclass in balancing humor with emotional depth, allowing the listener to sway between laughter and longing.
The EP culminates with “Miss Me,” a track that brandishes a sword of confidence and caution. It’s a haunting anthem of empowerment and revenge written by Jessica Mitchell, Blake Bollinger, and Ben Stennis. The emotional gravity of the lyrics is lifted and carried by the trio’s vocals, each note dripping with the resolve of a heart scorned yet unbroken. The harmonies, especially, showcase a vibrato and phrasing that are heard and felt, etching the song’s message deep into the listener’s heart.
The union of Wayne, Stovall, and Woodward in this latest configuration illuminates the potency of a female perspective in country music. Their ability to meld their voices into a singular, impactful force brings forth a torrent of emotions ranging from the sweet relief of heartache to an unabashed declaration of independence and strength. It’s this very power that Runaway June channels into Smoke, Wine & Whiskey, promising a future for the genre that is as bright as the trio’s harmonies.
Runaway June, with their EP, is three songs that sing to the heart; they speak to the spirit of anyone who has loved, lost, and dared to laugh in the face of it all. As we look forward to what lies ahead for this trio, it’s clear that their journey is not just about making music but crafting anthems for the soul to sing. In Smoke, Wine & Whiskey, Runaway June invites us to embrace our vices, virtues, and everything in between, with a melody, a harmony, and a lyric that resonates long after the last note fades.