As likely the first major label country artist to be born in the 21st century – which should make even millennials feel downright ancient – Gabby Barrett is already making her mark in the new decade. In April, her co-written single “I Hope” raced to No. 1, making the 20-year-old Barrett the first solo female to top the charts with a debut song since 2017. Now, she’s taken the next logical step with the release of her debut album Goldmine, which features “I Hope” along with a reworked version of that smash single with pop star Charlie Puth. But there are additional treasures to be unearthed. Goldmine yields a veritable mother lode of straight-to-the-heart songs and provides a rich showcase for Barrett’s versatile vocal stylings.
Obviously, “I Hope” is the best starting point. Barrett pulls off what would seem a difficult task with new angle on the “woman scorned” theme. Barrett wants her ex to be happy, but then takes an abrupt turn by hoping that he gets cheated on, effectively receiving his just desserts. She goes from sweet to vengeful in a crucial turnaround, boldly establishing this as the anthem for every heartbroken girl.
On the title track, Barrett shows that she can belt when the song demands, as she punctuates the key word with a soaring, powerhouse wail in the manner of Carrie Underwood (to whom Barrett is sometimes compared). But she balances that with tender renderings of romantic fare like “Hall of Fame” and the recent single, “The Good Ones.” Then, there’s another shift into high gear with “Jesus and My Mama,” a rebellious exercise that finds her kicking up the vocals and changing her phrasing just a bit to fit the aggressive production. I can be sweet as sugarcane or run you over like a hell bound train, she warns in the song’s most descriptive line. It reveals yet another side of her personality. For an artist of her relatively young age, Barrett demonstrates an ability to fully inhabit the characters in her songs, something that Underwood does quite well herself.
With the exception of “Goldmine,” Barrett had a hand in writing all of the songs on the record, with able assistance from such A-list writers as Nicolle Galyon, Jon Nite, Ross Copperman, and Adam Doleac. Standouts include “Hall of Fame,” a nice twist on the ode-to-my-love ballad, basically saying that if there were a Hall of Fame for lovers, her guy would be the lead inductee. Some nice wordplay as well with the line, Livin’ to the rhythm of your heartbeat/Beats everything I’ve ever felt. The chorus on this is particularly beautiful. In the same vein, “Got Me,” featuring the praise and worship duo Shane & Shane, carries an inspirational, thoughtful message and offers the potential for success in the Christian market (perhaps the team has already considered this). “Footprints on the Moon” continues the optimistic mood, encouraging listeners to dream big even in the face of obstacles.
“Write It on My Heart” contains its own slice of intrigue with the opening passage, which sounds eerily like the beginning chorus notes of Mott the Hoople’s “All the Young Dudes.” After that, you’d never confuse the two songs but that segment was an ear-catcher for certain. A couple of weak spots show up with “Thank God,” which sounds like about 100 other pop tunes out there (you know, the “how-many-words-can-I-fit-into-a-line” style of vocal overkill), and “Rose Needs a Jack.” But even these at least have serious intentions and aim for integrity. To the album’s credit, there’s a commendable lack of throwaway, frivolous tunes.
With this impressive debut, Barrett is on the right path to continue her red-hot momentum. We certainly have not heard the last.