Among the younger artists who live on the border between traditional country music and singer-songwriterly Americana, women are currently leading the way. Kelsey Waldon is one of the best among them, crafting musical commentaries on 21st-century American lives that honor the past while remaining fiercely engaged with the present.
Waldon, who was raised playing acoustic music in small-town Kentucky, has become a key player in the East Nashville music community by penning songs that capture the heartland through twentysomething eyes, and performing them within classic settings so musically rich and engaging that they never sound like museum pieces. Waldon's powerful, slightly vinegary alto communicates both her love of elders like Loretta Lynn and her generational connection to Southern millennials like Kacey Musgraves.
World Cafe met with Waldon and her band at the EastSide Manor recording studio, close to the clubs where she and friends like Margo Price, Erin Rae and Michaela Anne often take the stage on any given weeknight. Waldon talked about how her small-town background and big-city coming-of-age inform her sensibilities; about working with pedal steel player Brett Resnick (also at the session) to make top-notch music for today's honky-tonks; and about gaining inspiration from the tight-knit East Nashville community that's among the most productive in popular music today. Hear the full session above.