Gretchen Wilson, "Right on Time" (Redneck)
Most current country rockers draw on hard-rock arena riffs lifted from the 1990s, but Gretchen Wilson's influences reach back further than that. Her new album, "Right on Time," mines the classic rock of the 1970s -- the first single, "Keep on Rollin'," for example, includes a piano-guitar interplay that mirrors Bob Seger's blue-collar arrangements.
She also spreads her wings, musically and thematically, now that she's recording for her own record label, Redneck Records. Her independence allows this self-proclaimed redneck woman to branch out into classic soul, with "One Good Friend," and to cut the cheeky "Grandma," about an elderly relative who loves smoking pot.
That's not to say Wilson is out of date: She opens with "Get Outta My Yard," co-written by Kacey Musgraves, whose recent debut album pushes contemporary country music into progressive new territory.
Instead, Wilson rocks as hard as she desires while choosing songs that represent her lifestyle and point of view -- just as she always has. "Right on Time" doesn't hit the highs of her 2004 debut, "Here for the Party." But it continues the fiercely autobiographical stance that distances Wilson from most modern country artists in all the right ways.