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.