Against a backdrop of waves hitting the shore, a gentle voice greets us in “Tears and Fears” as bold and dynamic as the setting it so brilliantly occupies. This voice is one that will guide us through brooding moments from those in the casual swing of “Demons” to the more emphatic harmonies of “Pieces of Me,” and the woman it belongs to – B.B. Cole – doesn’t mind giving us everything she’s got when the microphone is in her hands.
This is a player who, despite only releasing her first album this year, has a lot to bring to the table in Outgrowing Ourselves, and across nine songs in the record’s tracklist we make our acquaintance with someone who just might be one of the best young vocalists in country music right now. Cole has a casual way about her that is inviting and quite disarming, and at no point does it sound like she’s forcing the theme of Outgrowing Ourselves just for the sake of sounding accessible to a larger audience. This is an artist beguiled by pastoral cues and powered by a desire to be heard that is much purer than the status quo in pop anymore.
“She Gave Me Feathers” opens the LP with a rich country-rock swagger that could have been expanded upon a little more but remains one of the minimalist gems of the tracklist just the same. This song doesn’t have quite the stomping beat that “When I Was a Little Girl” does, but both compositions share much of the same vitality-laced core that makes Cole’s singing even easier to relate to, no matter what the topic happens to be.
“My Decision” struts a little more than it should, but if you’ve got the abilities this player does, what’s wrong with getting a bit indulgent every now and then? From Cole’s position, getting the most out of this vocal she’s got does her nothing but favors in this material, especially when it comes to making a grand work like the radio-friendly “Some Kind of Religion” sound larger than life. She’s taking a lot from the ‘90s country movement that led to immense mainstream love for the genre, if not an international explosion in popularity.
“Emotional Baggage” and “Wear Your Crown” flirt with exoticisms that could be better served with more versatile adventures into the pop genre throughout the LP, but I still like what they’re presenting about B.B. Cole just the same. Outgrowing Ourselves has a couple of moments that feel more like a demo than they do a proper album, but with this being her rookie release, I think Cole deserves a break on the wide-ranging ground she’s looking to cover here.
Her ambitions are the centerpiece of every performance she’s giving in Outgrowing Ourselves, and whether you’re the type to go for a hot new country record or not, I think the finer melodic points in this LP alone make it a worthwhile listen for anyone who could use a good ol’ fashioned American hook this summer.