Brittney Spencer shines in her debut album “My Stupid Life” that creates a fusion of americana, folk and country with uniquely soulful flair

It’s taken three years from Brittney Spencer’s attention-grabbing Compassion EP to her much-anticipated debut album, with a handful of singles and EPs between. And now that My Stupid Life is here, she’s already transcended the “next big thing” label; Spencer is a star who just hasn’t held the spotlight on her own yet.  She’s part of the supergroup Highwomen family, has opened for artists like Jason Isbell, and made a big impression at the 2021 CMAS performing with Mickey Guyton and Madeline Edwards. “I’m doing something that is probably already going in the history books,” Spencer recently told Rolling Stone of being a Black female artist in country music, “and not because it’s me and my song, but because I’m part of something.” She has so much to contribute, as proven by My Stupid Life, which feels both familiar and comforting but not like anything else out there. With her warm, honeyed voice front and center, songs like “Reaching Out”—about finding one’s place in Nashville and beyond—embraces the Americana-folk-country hybrid championed by her sometime collaborator Brandi Carlile. She plays with countrified radio pop on easygoing “If You Say So,” complemented by Fleetwood Mac-style guitar; and layers on both steel guitar and emo call-and-response for “Desperate.”

Spencer, the story goes, fell in love with the Chicks’ music as a teenager in Baltimore and sang backup for gospel and R&B acts before moving to Nashville to chase her country dreams. That background makes a lot of sense when you hear the flirty “I Got Time,” which channels the stomp and sass of Tuesday Night Music Club era Sheryl Crow, melds a ‘60s girl-group chorus, and adds in Southern-rock guitars and disco-diva notes. She effortlessly hits the high notes, too, on “My First Rodeo,” a smoldering, soulful stunner that never feels the need to be showy.

Brittney Spencer - Bigger Than The Song (Official Music Video)

Brittney Spencer

There are prominent themes at play, like making it in as a seeming outsider in Nashville (including the ballad “New to This Town,” its bittersweet melody kissed with the optimism of birdsong). Both the title track, a pleasant romp, and “First Car Feeling” dream of youthful exhilaration: “Now I’m chasing down that first-car feeling … You never get back that first taste of freedom,” Spencer sings on the latter, a finger-snapping bounce celebrating teenage adventure in an old Trans-Am. “Night In” starts with a cute phone call—Spencer making plans with Maren Morris, Fancy Hagood and other Nashville figures—before kicking into a joyous, karaoke-ready party song about keeping the party at home. Morris lends backing vocals (Grace Potter, Abbey Cone and Sarah Buxton also guest on songs), which is a pretty nifty IRL leap from Spencer’s “Bigger Than The Song,” about the power of music and how it soundtracks life:” Makes you wanna be fancy like Reba, a queen like Aretha/ In love like Johnny and June … put your love on top like Beyoncé at my church on Sunday/ When Maren starts singin’ that tune.”