It's been a long time since country music has seen an act as fresh and as exuberant as The Wilkinsons. Steve, Amanda and Tyler are the freshfaced Dad, daughter and son combo that's been sent to reinject country music with glistening harmonies, solid lyrics and soaring vocals.
The Wilkinsons understand that blood ties and blood harmonies are thicker and richer than any amount of record company calculation. With Nothing But Love, their Giant debut, The Wilkinsons not only make music that captivates, they bring a sense of traditional values and being at peace with the way life evolves.
Listen to "26 Cents" and hear a moment from a life that speaks volumes about the power of a mother's love. Sink into the beautiful., "One Faithful Heart," a gorgeous ballad that validates the most basic truth: the comfort of knowing true love lives in the most common places. Or kick up your heels and unwind to the joyous romp of "The Yodelin' Blues," which features swooping harmonies and genuine yodeling.
"We just love music," says father Steve with a wry twinkle in his eye. "We always have and we always will. That we're able to do this professionally is a gift, because we were thinking about taking a break until Amanda was out of school."
It's this kind of freewheeling camaraderie that marks The Wilkinsons as much as their drop-dead harmonies and focused song sense. For The Wilkinsons., what you hear -- and see -- is most definitely who they are. Genuine has become a word that sets off warning bells, so abused has it been in our modern world. But if there is a word to capture what sets this trio apart in today's country music landscape, its most definitely genuine.
"I'm a born cynic," confesses Steve who co-wrote seven of the songs on Nothing But Love. ""We live in a world where everyone tries to manipulate rather than celebrate what is. But I think that's a tragedy...For us, we're a family who still hangs out and really does enjoy each other. Maybe I'm still living in the past., but I long for a time when parents were thrilled about their kids going to the prom and all those rites of transition."
Amanda smiles as she adds., "And Tyler and I are fine with being our age. Because we're young, we can sing songs from an honest place about the things that are part of our lives right now. We can sing about the innocence of first love with the freshness that's part of it.
Indeed, when Tyler offers up a smoky interpretation of "The Word," it's tempered with the tentativeness that's all part of the confusion of new, but overwhelming feelings. The same can be said of the ache and conflict in Amanda's alto when she addresses the insurmountable gap of the right and wrong side of the tracks in "Williamstown."
Drawing on a heady mixture of everything from George Strait, Reba McEntire, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Dolly Parton to Patsy Cline, Restless Heart, Linda Ronstadt and Garth Brooks, The Wilkinsons have a seamless sense of what kind of country they make. Not easily categorized, it comes from hearts that love this music and want to celebrate country music's vastness.
That wide-open appreciation, coupled with those singular voices and powerful harmonies, have already been attracting major fans in some pretty high places. Most of Nashville's best writers have lined up to write with Steve for this project, because it gave them an opportunity to write the kinds of songs that are honest about coming of age in this crazy world.
And when Vince Gill heard them sing, he promptly invited them to share the stage with him on the Grand Ole Opry. "We were visiting in his dressing room, " Tyler reports, "singing and laughing and stuff. When they came in and said, 'Okay, it's time to go on he looked at us and said," 'Well, come on...it was Incredible singing on the Opry stage with him!"
But things like that happen to The Wilkinsons all the time. Like Cinderella -- without the glass slipper and the midnight curfew -- they came to town with the most honest intentions and became one of Music City's most talked about new acts.
Of course, it's a long way from working construction as a contractor and carpenter who was writing songs on the side for several Canadian artists to being the object of a major label bidding war that included MCA, Dreamworks, Capitol, Lyric Street, Arista and Sony. And that way was tempered with hard work and a clear sense of what was important.
That family structure sets The Wilkinsons apart, even as It holds them together. Embracing life with hope and honesty, they're destined to carve out a special niche for themselves.
Nothing But Love, it's not complicated. But for The Wilkinsons, it works.
Put on their Giant debut and get ready to have your faith in the world