TSJ: Finally. I wanted, tried to love Clark’s debut as an artist, 12 Songs, because its songwriting was so solid, but its coffeehouse production felt so resigned, like it wasn’t even trying, far too samey over the course of an entire album. “Girl Next Door” is another matter entirely, thanks I suspect largely to Jay Joyce, the man who’s helped make stars out of Little Big Town and Eric Church, and here gives Clark’s sass the behind-the-boards punch it deserves. This chugs, this moves, this is a fuckin’ windows-down sing-a-long, and in the current country radio climate, I can see Clark making her first mark on the airwaves alongside like-minded women like Cam and Maddie & Tae. (And as opposed to her buddy Kacey Musgraves’ trapped-in-amber kitsch, “Girl Next Door” sounds altogether current.) Say hello to Brandy Clark 2.0, not just a hit songwriter but, potentially, a hit artist in her own right. Hot damn.
This didn’t quite make Brandy Clark a star, making it to #39 on the Country Airplay chart, but I think even that was quite an achievement, especially considering that Clark’s openly lesbian. I suspect most radio listeners don’t know that, and just responded to Jay Joyce’s tough production, and Clark’s even tougher lyrics. The album this comes from, Big Day in a Small Town, is superb, too. (Spoiler alert: it’s in my top 10.)