By: Emily Jackson
Last night, Eddie’s Attic in Decatur was packed with high school girls, Southern boys, done-up women and serious musicians. One particular group by the bar in back grew increasingly noisy as the night progressed. That proud, rowdy bunch consisted of none other than Jamie Lynn Spears’ family, friends and soon-to-be husband. Britney was not in attendance. It is assumed she had to work, b**ch.
The ladies-only lineup began with a five song set by 15-year-old singer/songwriter Skilyr Hicks. She may be young, but Hicks already knows how to capture a crowd with a passionate refrain. Her lyrics openly discuss some of the most painful human experiences there are, from feeling invisible to losing a loved one. Yet they approach these subjects with an unshakeable optimism. What are first presented as songs about loss become songs about creativity and restitution. Hicks showed some sisterly love (a theme that would later be picked up by JLS) on her song, “She Is Beautiful,” inviting her sister onstage to sing harmony, then finished with “If I Could Be a Bird.”
Decatur resident Sydney Rhames took to the mic after Skilyr, strumming out upbeat ditties with a heaping side of sass. Her music had more of a twang than Hicks’ solemn melodies which was a good appetizer for the country feast Jamie Lynn would serve up. Even if it was pure serendipity that brought her there, it seems fitting that Eddie’s is practically in Rhames’ backyard. Her jokes and shoutouts showed how in her element she is in the venue. A bass/guitar/viola player joined her for the second half of her set, making each song richer than the one before.
At long last, Jamie Lynn approached the stage for the first time ever with a full band and a full repertoire of honkytonk-ready country. Though she’s been involved with the glitz and glam of the entertainment industry for years, the newly penned material she sang throughout the evening centers on small town Walmarts, dusty roads and big blue skies. The music reveals an ex-TV star who’s more than down-to-earth. She’s down to the Louisiana bayous and Mississippi mud she grew up on. The titles of the first two songs of the set, “Shotgun Wedding” and “Prettiest Girl in the Trailer Park,” say it all. These songs let the crowd know that Jamie Lynn isn’t just Britney’s sweet little sis. She’s sweet with an edge that’s all her own, like an ice cream sundae with a shot of Tabasco or a homecoming queen in steel-toed boots. Her vocals during the openers were only lukewarm, but as she unveiled deeper material, her voice grew stronger and the crowd grew livelier. She showed some real emotion during a ballad entitled “Big Bad World,” breaking down for a few seconds before making it to the first chorus.
A definite highlight of Jamie Lynn’s performance was her work with covers. She presented a worthy rendition of “Wide Open Spaces” and an extra-danceable “Bad Moon Rising.” But the piece-de-resistance came during “Miss Mississippi” when Jamie Lynn segued into “Oops! I Did It Again,” eliciting raucous applause from the audience. She even snuck in the iconic two-hand heartbeat motion on the chorus.
“You gotta throw it back to your sister at some point, right?” Jamie Lynn said as the song ended. “My sister’s been a big influence on my life so… a big round of applause for my sister!”
She closed the show with her unassuming single, “How Could I Want More.”
Each performer of the night offered an earnest vulnerability not often seen from such young artists. As long as they hold onto that, the futures of Miss Hicks, Miss Rhames and Miss Spears couldn’t be brighter.
Category: Live Reviews