Review – Runaway June’s “Lipstick”

Runaway June Lipstick

Over a year after Tomato Gate and I can unfortunately say that not much has changed at country radio in regards to female artists getting airplay. For the most part, female artists are still being casted out and ignored by radio programmers. This is despite the fact there’s probably more female talent on major country labels than there has been in a good while. One of these talented female acts is new trio Runaway June on Wheelhouse Records, an imprint of Broken Bow. The trio is made up of Naomi Cooke, Hannah Mulholland and Jennifer Wayne. Each of them found a connection with country music at an early age and unsurprisingly cite the most iconic female trio in country music history, The Dixie Chicks, as one of their inspirations. Wayne has made the most waves so far amongst the three, as she helped co-write Eric Paslay’s “She Don’t Love You,” one of the best songs from country music in the last few years (in addition she’s the granddaughter of John Wayne). Together as a Runaway June and introducing themselves to country music fans, they’ve released their debut single “Lipstick.”

One of the things I immediately look for in a group is how they harmonize and right away Runaway June proves that they’re quite strong in this department, as they open with great harmonization on “Lipstick.” Cooke takes the lead on the vocals, but there’s plenty of harmonizing throughout. I have to say for a newly formed group I’m really impressed by how great they sound on their first song. Normally there can be some bumps on the first few songs, but this trio seems to click with each other. The song itself is a breakup song that takes a positive and upbeat spin, as the message of the song is women shouldn’t waste their time on people who ruin their mascara and spend time with someone who will ruin their lipstick instead.

“Lipstick” reminds me a lot of other songs currently at radio like Jon Pardi’s “Head Over Boots” and William Michael Morgan’s “I Met A Girl,” in that all three kind of rely on cheesy lyrics when singing about falling in love with someone. But they’re endearingly cheesy and show a lot of heart, making it easy for listeners to connect with. These lyrics are all backed by clearly country instrumentation and production, with dare I say even a hint of bluegrass (think early Dixie Chicks music). There’s noticeable fiddle throughout the song! I think I can count on one hand the number of major label acts who regularly incorporate fiddle into their music.

I find “Lipstick” to be a fantastic debut by Runaway June and it makes me anxious to hear a full album from the trio. They show a ton of promise with this lead single and give me hope that mainstream country continues to try to turn the tide back to the genre’s roots. This is the exact type of song that belongs on country radio and deserves to be heard by all country fans. It’s catchy, fun and country. This is the true evolution of country music in 2016. I couldn’t recommend checking out “Lipstick” enough. Runaway June is an act you need to have on your radar.

Grade: 8/10

8 thoughts on “Review – Runaway June’s “Lipstick”

  1. Raymond July 12, 2016 / 11:21 am

    I really love this song. The main singers voice is particularly great. The harmonies are really strong, honestly this feels like a song that sounds like a combination of The Wreckers and Dixie Chicks which I am definitely not complaining. I also love the hook of the song as it’s particularly strong.

    “Lipstick” is also doing really well on the charts. Up to #45 on BB in 6 weeks so its making good movement. Hopefully this and The Last Banoleros “Where Do You Go” can be breakout singles this fall.

    In unrelated news, even though you guys aren’t a fan of Raelynn the audio for her new single came out and it’s not as bad as one would expect, she still can’t sing all that well but she sounds better and the production isn’t quite as overbearing, also fairly well written I must say.

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    • Josh Schott July 12, 2016 / 11:53 am

      Personally I think this trio is much better than The Wreckers because Runaway June has more powerful harmonies. Of course this is just based off one song, but I see a lot of potential here if they run with it. It’s an encouraging sign they really look up to the Dixie Chicks (to the point they openly admit in interviews they don’t like to be compared to them because they hold Dixie Chicks in such high regard).

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    • Nadia Lockheart July 12, 2016 / 1:02 pm

      I agree with your last point about RaeLynn’s latest offering.

      “Love Triangle” is EASILY her best single to date, and isn’t remotely close. It makes me wonder if all the bulls*** we got from her while at Big Machine was as much label intervention than anything, because “Love Triangle” is an awe-inspiring reversal from everything she released before since joining Warner Brothers Nashville.

      RaeLynn definitely still is below average as a vocalist. But where everything she sang just came across as obnoxious with Big Machine, the restraint on “Love Triangle” results in something that’s much easier to get behind in that the lyrics are where all the attention are drawn around: a song about children caught up in their parents’ divorce. And I’d even dare argue, with this kind of song, RaeLynn’s vocal shortcomings actually work in its favor in that they adequately reflect the rawness and sleepless anxiety of adjusting to a post-divorce life.

      One song does not make a trend. But if “Love Triangle” is indicative of what will follow from RaeLynn as a whole that is more vulnerable authenticity and understated performances, and less drum loops and 1950s gender roles bulls***, I may very well pull a 180-degree turn on her.

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  2. FeedThemHogs July 12, 2016 / 12:11 pm

    Could do with out the ohhh oohhhh ooohhh bridge or what ever. Cool sound though.

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  3. Nadia Lockheart July 12, 2016 / 12:15 pm

    That pretty much sums up my thoughts of this debut as a whole, too.

    *

    “Lipstick” is by no means groundbreaking but, as far as first impressions come, this is among the most well-rounded, solid efforts I’ve heard in the mainstream in quite a while. It just seems to do everything right.

    For one, it strikes that balance between country and pop sensibilities that Lucy Hale and the Wreckers did so well. In fact, this reminds me very much of something the now-defunct latter duo would cut. It’s clear the vocal harmonies are essentially the primary instrument here, but you still hear some tasteful fiddle lingering in the background and a little pedal steel.

    The arrangement of this song reminds me a lot of Miranda Lambert’s “White Liar” where, much like “White Liar”, the song opens with the chorus and is then punctuated by concise verses with the main aim of driving you back to the sentiment of that chorus. Even the vocal melodies are similar to that of “White Liar” in the chorus, but not in a way that feels blatantly derivative and effectively differentiates their style from that of most everyone else in the mainstream as of late.

    Speaking of which, the vocal melodies are easily the biggest highlight of this debut. In essence, I think this was essentially what Lucy Angel’s “Crazy Too” was aspiring to be but was undermined somewhat by coming across a bit too obnoxious. “Lipstick”, comparatively, is much more restrained and provides more breathing space for these three as distinguishable vocalists in their own right.

    And lyrically this may not dig deep at all, but “Lipstick” nonetheless effectively reminds the listener that even though initial heartbreak is understandably rough and can affect one’s psyche to the point one wonders if it is worth trying to love again, that better days and experiences lie ahead. I can’t say I necessarily agree with the idea of conflating tears in general to negative experiences (I say that as a very sentimental person who cries easily over heartfelt, sentimental experiences and the generosity of others), and I for one think it’s unhealthy to perpetually live life with eyes as dry as the Sahara. But hey, I’ll let that slide as I do get the main point they were aiming for and the need for symbolic contrast.

    *

    “Lipstick” isn’t going to change the world. But in terms of mainstream efforts, this is about as well-rounded in quality as one could hope for and I’m really hoping impacts my dial for months on end. This is a very enjoyable debut.

    I’m thinking a Strong 7 to Light 8 out of 10 for this.

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  4. OlaR July 12, 2016 / 3:02 pm

    I still prefer Post Monroe (Ep: Post Monroe). “Dixie Dust” will be on my best-song-of-the-year list.

    But…”Lipstick” is a very good debut single. Closer to early Dixie Chicks than the Wreckers. 8/10.

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    • Nadia Lockheart July 13, 2016 / 3:32 am

      When my eyes first glimpsed your opening sentence. I could have sworn you wrote “Post Malone” and was ready to rant………………..until I checked again and understood it to be Post Monroe! (laughs) 😉

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