Gina VillalobosGina Villalobos
Album: Sola (EP)
Label: Pony Farm
Tracks: 7

Gritty, sexy, soulfully yearning and full-on – that’s country-rock singer-songwriter Gina. I fell madly in love with That Voice of hers a number of years back on hearing her breakthrough albums Rock’n’Roll Pony and Miles Away, but then it all went quiet, and I was unable to track her subsequent career.

It turns out she released a further album Days On Their Side in 2009, then nothing more flowed out of her creative mind due to a bad attack of writer’s block (she describes it thus: her erstwhile hunger for making music was now “like a numb finger”). Up till this year that is, when after undergoing a therapeutic music program at LACC the impulse to create turned into the required hunger once again. And looking up from that deep dark well, out have poured the songs on this new seven-tracker, which Gina’s due to unveil next month.

She’s brought these songs to life by assembling a quintet of established and trusted musicians (Josh Grange, Eric Heywood, Kevin Haaland, Ian Walker and “Quinn”), who ignite the engines within the lyrics with what might be described as old-school twang and steel-soaked thrust, a rich and glorious backdrop that suits and cradles Gina’s eternally powerful singing voice as to the manner born. From the moody heartbreak of Tears Gone By to the crashingly life-affirming pop philosophy of Hold On To Rockets via the stately Interstate Ache swooning ballad of Come Undone and the intense slow drawl of the epic, sublimely eloquent Wandering By (both of these latter titles are standouts, and co-writes with Josh, by the way).

The stripped-back, largely acoustic closer Walk Away finds a new-found vulnerability in Gina’s voice, showing a different side to the ball-busting diva of her earlier work. Altogether Sola is a thoroughly majestic set, if a touch short. But we need have no worries while Gina continues to “shine her lyrical light on the human condition” so persuasively.

David Kidman