Lainey Wilson points into the sky with a microphone in front of her, while wearing a beige waistcoat, denim shirt, brown bell bottom jeans and a brown hat, with a guitarist playing guitar to the right of her and a drummer playing drums to her left.

The Sky Is The Limit For Lainey Wilson

April 25, 2024 11:30 am GMT
Last Edited May 1, 2024 10:13 am GMT

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It's a rare blue-skied evening in Glasgow, Scotland.

Cars mount the curbs on streets leading up to the O2 Academy, where LAINEY WILSON is spelt out in cobalt block lettering on a faded marquee. The line wrapped around the block an hour before doors open confirms her fanbase is just as loyal across the pond, in a town so far away from home. The venue's smaller than Lainey's used to these days, but offers a firm warm welcome, with ubiquitous big smiles matched by even bigger hats and cowboy boots.

I meet with Lainey in a tiny office-like room backstage. Backstage clutter crowds the desk and there are two chairs to choose from. Without hesitation, Wilson takes the small, wobbly wooden option, offering me the plush ergonomic choice. Entirely unbothered by the less-than-appealing surroundings, Wilson only maintains eye contact with her guests, with a twinkle in her eye and a grin on her face. It strikes me that she is just as kind-hearted and humble as she appears onstage and online.

The last time we spoke with Lainey, she had just released her sophomore album, Sayin' What I'm Thinkin', and was busy building up a devout following while on the road with Justin Moore, Ashley McBryde and Josh Turner. Now, Wilson is trailblazing through sold-out shows on her own world tour, flexing her acting chops on Yellowstone and claiming her first GRAMMY for Best Country Album with Bell Bottom Country.

By all accounts, Lainey Wilson is a country music superstar. So, out the back of an old theatre, 4,000 miles from where she calls home, I kick off our chinwag with a burning question— what keeps the roadrunner running once it reaches its destination?

"It's so crazy… you know how when you're 16, you're like ‘man, if I could just get a car’," she says, shaking her head. "Then you move to Nashville, and you're like ‘if I could just get a publishing deal, and if I could just get a record deal’. ‘Suppose I could just get on a tour, have a number one song, win an award’. That's just the human part of you, you know, and that continues".

When Lainey first moved to Nashville, she parked her camper trailer at a family friend's studio parking lot. Hitting the streets of Music City with nothing but her southern drawl and a CD in hand, she experienced the slam of a door on Music Row more than any type of interaction she’d mustered in her dreams. Dubbed the ‘ten-year town', Nashville is cognizant of overstayers, but Lainey made a vow early on she would do her time until it remembered her name.

Lainey had stars in her eyes and her parents in her ears. "I truly do feel like my parents raised me to feel like I was given this gift. No matter what, I'm just going to keep on sharing it. So, if that means the awards and accolades stop, it doesn't mean I will stop sharing what I feel like is a gift".

<p>Lainey Wilson sings into a microphone while wearing a beige waistcoat, denim shirt, brown bell bottom jeans and a brown hat, with a keyboard behind her.</p>

Feature Photography by Kendall Wilson

I note her thick Louisiana twang is yet to soften. And, in true Lainey Wilson fashion, she dons a pair of beige bell bottoms, a matching suede tassel vest worn over a denim shirt, a silver bolo, matching turquoise rings and chandelier earrings winking at me under the light. She seals the look with a bespoke felt hat, decorated with a single feather peeking out of its band. By claiming the flares since the start of her career and resisting any influence tempting her into a change of style, Lainey's created a brand so strong, you'd think she invented bell bottoms.

As her Western style becomes a fashion trend on social media, at festivals and even on city streets, Lainey's latest hit, 'Country's Cool Again', couldn't be more timely. The title of the track couldn’t be more relevant either, with artists like Zach Bryan and Morgan Wallen topping all-genre charts and prominent pop artists like Beyonce, Post Malone and Lana Del Rey declaring their artistic plans within the country music landscape.

I quiz her on why she thinks the genre is so popular right now. "I think country's always been cool, the genre of music specifically. Where I grew up, we didn't even realise that country was a genre; it was a way of life. So, when I was writing a song, I was talking more about the lifestyle. It does seem like, especially since Yellowstone and things like that, everybody wants to wear a cowboy hat and Wrangler jeans and ride a horse”.

“It's cool for me, because this is the way that I grew up, so the more the merrier”, Wilson adds. “Seeing a lot of folks interested in being a part of the country genre excites me. It’s about the storytelling, because country music makes you feel at home”.

@hollercountry Who wants a Taylor Swift x Lainey Wilson collab? 👀 @Lainey Wilson plans to catch up on Taylor Swift’s #ttpd ♬ original sound - Holler

Lainey's songs are poetic and profound, inspired by classic country legends like Dolly Parton and Garth Brooks. Add producer Jay Joyce's rock nous and glossy Nashville touch to the mix, the result is modern country gold that's speaking to audiences beyond the genre.

Albeit open to the idea of jumping the genre ship herself, Wilson doesn’t think it’s possible, even if she tried. "I could sing a pop song, and it's still gonna sound country. I think this accent is not going anywhere. It is thick. But for me, it's just making sure that the music is about storytelling, because that's why I fell in love with country music; I'm a sucker for a good story. I think of 90s country, I think of songs like ‘Whiskey Lullaby’, ‘Goodbye Earl’ and ‘Strawberry Wine’. So no matter what I'm singing, I gotta be telling a story".

As for the future, Wilson’s willing to try anything next - as long as it doesn't go against her character. "I feel like the sky's the limit. When I wrote my first song at nine years old, I was just like, ‘Man, I want to be a singer. I want to be a songwriter’. But, it seems like my dream has inspired other dreams, which is not something I expected. But If I can stay true to myself and my roots and step outside my comfort zone, then the sky's the limit".

While we all wouldn't mind a bit more Lainey on our screens, it's no secret we've been pining for more music. "We're working on it; I'll tell you that right now. I was working on this batch of music before Bell Bottom Country was even done. Just because I knew we were gonna be short on time. I have a lot of different irons in the fire right now, and I realise we don't have much time to write as much as I'd like to, so you gotta get a head start on it. I'll tell you that I'm partial, but it’s good. I do think it shows growth. It shows growth as a singer-songwriter and, I think, a human".

<p>Lainey Wilson points into the sky with a microphone in her hand, while wearing a beige waistcoat, denim shirt, brown bell bottom jeans and a brown hat, with a guitarist playing guitar to the right of her and a drummer playing drums to her left.</p>

Feature Photography by Kendall Wilson

And, of course, with her beau Devlin Hodges stepping into the limelight alongside her more frequently, we can surely expect some love songs. "I write what I know. Right now, I know love, so it's really great, but it's not one of those sappy kinds of love songs. I'm still like, ‘I'm gonna love you, but I'm still a strong, independent woman’. It’s those kinds of love songs, you know what I'm saying?"

Despite all the hard work on her upcoming album, Lainey's still finding time to reach a handout to the women following in her footsteps. Most recently, she wrote and sang on Anne Wilson's new track 'Praying Woman', off her REBEL album. "I love Anne Wilson. I love what she stands for. I love her story. I think she's just got a heart that's pure gold, and it does feel good to be able to carry people over that wall just like people have done for me, like Ashley McBryde, Miranda Lambert; the list goes on and on. You’ve just got to help each other, whether that means doing a song with them or giving them advice".

So I take the opportunity to ask her for that advice. Lainey tells me she could sit here and go on forever, but of course, she's got a show to kill. So, she delivers it in a nutshell: "Stay true to yourself, somehow turn the nos into yesses, and be kind. I've been doing the same thing for a long time, I've been singing the same kinda music and writing the same kinda songs, I've grown and got better. Find whatever it is you're good at, and stick to it. They might not remember the songs that you wrote in that little dive bar, or in that writer's round, but they're gonna remember how you made them feel. It's just about being kind and loving everybody".

It's not long before Lainey's on the mainstage, bright lights in her eyes, her undeniable twang blessing our ears. The show has only been going for 30 minutes when the crowd erupts in ardent applause after a spectacularly flawless performance of 'Watermelon Moonshine'. One by one, the audience begins to stand, their shadows each blocking the glow from the stage until it's time for the rest of us to join them.

"That might've been one of the coolest moments I've ever had," Lainey declares with a shaky voice after gathering herself and wiping away tears from her face. It’s a core memory well deserved for the Louisiana troubadour who made it out of the ten-year town as a bona fide country music Queen.


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