When your mother is Lee Ann Womack, your father country singer and songwriter Jason Sellers, and your stepfather is acclaimed producer Frank Liddle (Miranda Lambert, David Nail, Pistol Annies), music is, quite
literally, in your genes. So perhaps it’s no surprise that Aubrie Sellers has stepped up to the performer’s plate.
But this ain’t her mama’s country music. Sellers cites both Led Zeppelin and Ralph Stanley as her two biggest influences — an odd mix until you hear one of the more rocking songs on her debut, New City Blues. Calling her music “country garage” gives her plenty of room to play while nodding to her penchant for a fat-bottomed, fuzzy guitar riff. But what immediately hits you when listening to Sellers’ debut is how much she sounds like her mother: both have a lean twang and a nimble way with their inflection. It’s kind of eerie, actually.
Like her mother, the 24-year-old singer has a strong idea of how she wants her songs to sound — which is exactly why she asked her stepfather to produce her. “He’s good at figuring out the best way to make you sound like you,” she observes. Truth be told, it sounds as though Liddle and Sellers experimented quite a bit on New City Blues, changing tempo, guitar tones and instrumentation as deemed necessary for the song. Mostly, it sounds as though they had a lot of fun.
Opener “Light of Day” takes a page out of the Pistol Annies’ playbook, hooking you with a warbling, noir-ish guitar that resonates for a full 45 seconds before reeling you in with a sexy, nearly tribal drum beat. This and “Loveless Rolling Stone” strike the perfect balance between Sellers’ featherweight vocals and a more meaty instrumentation. On some of the heavier, more stylized songs such as “Paper Doll,” Sellers’ voice gets a bit lost in the bombast.
What makes her writing so special is the way she taps into the shared experiences of simply living life. “Dreaming of the Day” finds the dark-haired singer caught up in the buzz of a new relationship. In the song, she’s daydreaming about her new beau and with a sly lyrical wink, reliving the more romantic aspects of the night before. Who hasn’t giddily walked on air like this at love’s first blush? And on the slow, shuffling “Losing Ground,” she writes about pulling yourself out of life’s occasional downward spiral. “I’m not crazy,” she near-whispers over scuffling beats and twanging guitars. “I’m just losing ground.”
With high-profile gigs opening for Chris Stapleton at the Ryman and a sweet spot at 2016’s Coachella, Aubrie Sellers puts herself in both the driver’s seat and at the eye of the hurricane. Something tells us she’s comfortable in either place.