Women in Music 2016
Wynonna Judd Finds Romantic Bliss on New Album, 'Wynonna & The Big Noise'
It would not be a stretch to say the upcoming project from Wynonna Judd is a celebration of love. In talking with the country songstress, one gets the feeling she is at a blissful point in her life where she has wanted to be for a long time -- and it can be heard glowingly on each track on Wynonna & The Big Noise, due out February 12 on Curb.
Judd told Billboard the music was recorded simply for the love of it. Words like 'demographic' and 'airplay' weren't a consideration during the recording process.
"I don't even know if I was that conscious, to be honest, about bridging the gap between commerce and art," Judd said. "There was no agenda. We just took 10 songs that we really loved and I'll be darned if we're not playing the songs at places like Napa Valley -- where people don't buy records -- and they are coming up and saying, 'Girl, I had no idea that you were that nasty and that fun."
What sets the disc -- her first of non-covers since 2003's What The World Needs Now Is Love -- apart is that it is truly a band effort recorded with her four-man ensemble. She said she was encouraged by her husband and bandmate, Cactus Moser, to differentiate from what she has done before in her career.
"He would take me in the studio and say, 'Less of the R&B honey and more of the sweet Wynonna when you were 18,'" Judd said. "'How would you sing this if you were still singing with your mom or to your children?' He just helped me to re-define from being this power-house vocalist to interpreting the songs and just getting out of my way."
"I fell in love with him back then in the 1980s," she said. "It took me 30 plus years for me to hook up with him again. We started dating and there were all these songs in the car that we would listen to on date night, which are on this record. The whole vibe of our love affair started everything off. He would play me something from Jason Isbell, then Poco and it just re-ignited my love for music."
Judd stressed that passion can be heard throughout the record, which was recorded in a very old-school fashion.
"We call this record 'vintage modern,' she said. "All of the instruments are vintage. The drums are from the 1930s and sound unlike any drums I've ever heard. We're using microphones from the 1940s that Tony Bennett would use, for instance."
But what really is first and foremost with Judd is the music.
"My voice is in a really deep and vulnerable place because I'm really happy and it's filled with joy. We had to go through hell with his accident that took place two months after we got married," she said, referencing Moser's 2012 motorcycle crash in South Dakota that cost him one of his legs. "Here we are in this blissful state right after the honeymoon and then we were literally standing side-by-side in the shadow because he couldn't maneuver. I remember looking out the window thinking, 'What is happening here, God? I don't understand.' It was a really hard three or four months that I had to become Mrs. Moser. I was ready to rock and take on the world and then the accident happened."
Despite the tragedy, Judd said the event drew them closer together.
"It really bonded us in a way that nothing else could," she said. "We came out of it, starting a band together and going on stage. We made jokes on stage that were kind of like Ricky and Lucy. I would talk about being a single parent for three years and he would talk about the fun stuff he remembered in touring with The Judds. We just ended up having a wonderful testimony together and we ended up transferring that to this record."
For Moser, producing his wife was an enjoyable experience all the way around -- especially on the soulful yearning of "You Are So Beautiful," which he said reminded him of what sets her apart as a vocalist.
"That one is really what I think about Wy and how we communicate with each other," Moser said. "Her voice on that song is so amazing. I played it for a friend of mine who is also a singer and she just started crying. That is why Wynonna is Wynonna. Nobody is this girl. There's just this way she interprets that and a way that she says it, it's so beautiful. The lyrics are so simple, but what she turns it into is so amazing."
The disc features guest appearances from the likes of Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, Timothy B. Schmit and Americana favorite Jason Isbell, who adds his vocal touch on the confessional "Things I Lean On." Judd said the song is one of the most personal she has ever been a part of.
"I've been walking a real thin line between light and dark for several years, whether it was being a single parent or learning how to be in business with my mom, or getting divorced, or this accident with Cactus. As a believer and a sinner and someone who has been to hell and back several times, I just really believed these words because they spoke to me on different levels. It's one of the most vulnerable songs I've done in a while. It's about just being me -- not 'Wynonna Judd,' the famous person, but an artist and speaking the words from a truthful place."
And, she's more than ready to take the new music on the road. "I want the fans to walk away from the shows feeling better than when they came. That's my only agenda. It's just a good time to play music and enjoy watching my husband play drums. They said he would never play again, so it's a gift every night to be on stage with him. It's so great to be alive and doing something that I enjoy and love. It's the best on all levels right now."