It’s rare that an album leaves me in awe, grasping for words to describe it, but that’s exactly where I was the first time I heard Jenna Torres’ Wild Sugar. Often, we hear the hyperbole of the singer/songwriter that channels emotion and has the “right voice at the right time,” so it was a struggle to adequately describe the New York-via-Nashville Torres without falling into cliché hype. With that in mind, simply put, I was blown away.
Country music is divided between the traditionalists that cite Hank, Waylon, Dolly, and Willie versus the modern top 40 in Blake, Carrie, and T-Rhett. On Wild Sugar, Torres manages to blend traditional outlaw country rock with lyrical hooks that will have both sides of the debate going to battle to claim this album as one of their own.
The backbone of Torres’s lyrics is that she has been there–she has felt these songs she is singing. Love, heartache, longing, life—she’s experienced it all and deftly folds her emotions into her craft, her words carrying an authentic country street cred. There are honky-tonk anthems like title track “Wild Sugar,” channeling the sing-along inducing character of the Dixie Chicks—its breezy banjo leading the upbeat melody. I love the southern country rock soul that shines on “Creeks on Fire” and “Heart on Wheels,” both instantly sparking comparisons to Chris Stapleton’s guitar-fueled, emotion-draped, genre-busting style.
The heart of Wild Sugar is Torres sharing her heart with us—a heart that can sing from experience, passion, and soul. Torres puts her feelings on display and it’s an exhibition that’s not to be missed.