Where do songwriters come from? There are no schools, no job training programs. Songwriters, it seems, are made of two things: time and place. First, of course, is time--time to soak up life’s experiences, to taste the joy and bitterness, love and longing that the world offers. Songwriters are also carved out of place. From Woody Guthrie’s windswept Oklahoma to Townes Van Zandt’s Texas Hill Country, the notion stamps songwriters with an indelible mark. For Bart Budwig, his place is Idaho and with the release of his brilliant new album, Whisky Girl, his time is now.
Bart grew up in the Palouse, the wild, rolling hill country that describes the border between north central Idaho and eastern Washington State. The area is full of nature’s wonders, with wide open, sprawling skies, gently undulating hills and seas of waving wheat, grasslands and fields of hops and grapes. With its inviting, unhurried feel, gorgeously sublime melodies and easy confidence, Whisky Girl has that tangible sense of place that separates the good songwriters from the great ones. And with lyrics that speak of hopes and heartbreaks, Whisky Girl announces a talented, nuanced songwriter with a direct line to the hearts of listeners.
Bridging the gap between the wide-open sprawl of classic Americana, the insightful observations of folk and the grit and honesty of authentic country, Whisky Girl is both a powerful statement and a great listen. Bart’s songs are highly evolved, utterly natural and unwaveringly human, incorporating themes of loss (“A Coke and a Smile” is about the passing of his mother), longing (“Whisky Girl” is about a lover moving to Texas) and even a cover of “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys”.