“My, oh my. Look how the time flies…”
It astonishes me how it’s been ten years since the release of Stand Still, Look Pretty – the captivating debut from country duo, The Wreckers – comprised of Michelle Branch and Jessica Harp – as it feels like just yesterday that I was leaving high school behind along with my first heartbreak while crazily managing to fall in love again with someone else. I remember release day vividly as I ran out after school to buy the deluxe edition with the DVD (remember those?) and taking it home and devouring it. Stand Still, Look Pretty was the soundtrack to my summer that year and without their clever one-liners (“I wonder what you could possibly know about breaking down that I don’t.”) and stories of breaking free mixed with heartbreak and searing loneliness, I’m not sure what summer 2006 would have looked like.
I’m not even entirely sure the duo truly realize the magnitude of influence their music – both as The Wreckers and individually- has had for fans growing up between 2001-2006. Both Branch and Harp, in my opinion, have been screwed over by the music industry more times than we’d like to count so the fact that it’s taken a while before we hear anything new is totally plausible. I’m not sure if they realize it, but Stand Still, Look Pretty wasn’t just some country album they put out a decade ago – it was a bible of sorts for those who needed guidance; a way to sort through our own messes and come out braver and stronger than before and perhaps, the feminism record of the year!
With lead single, “Leave The Pieces,” at the helm, it felt like country radio was their home but this album is so much more than a single. “Way Back Home” touches on finding an escape when things get too overwhelming; a train to the country to help you run away when the city swallows you up whole. “The Good Kind” found an early home in 2005 on the first soundtrack for CW show, One Tree Hill, while one of my personal favorites, “Tennessee,” (which ultimately made me want to visit the state to see for myself just how ‘sweet’ it really is) was the track I wished a certain someone would think about ten years later (um, hi…we’re here) when we were out of each other’s lives.
Perhaps the song that has grown with me the most is title track, “Stand Still, Look Pretty,” as it encapsulates everything I am today with who I’ve always been. From anxiety-filled nights to days when I can’t even believe this is my life, this track still has the ability to punch me in the chest harder than it ever did a decade ago. Admitting you’re not strong enough to deal with society’s criticisms takes guts and these two were bad asses in their own right.
From the eye-opening “Hard To Love You” – which ultimately made me realize a few things about the company that I once kept – to the sad yet self-assured “Cigarettes” to the Patty Griffin cover of “One More Girl” – which, let’s be honest, could probably be an original Wreckers song – no topic on love went unsaid. One thing I’ve always loved about country music, though not my preferred genre, is the storytelling. The storytelling on this record was damn perfect and I’m finding it has rubbed off in my own writing.
Speaking of good country storytelling, closing track, “Crazy People,” echoes that sentiment as the duo had a little fun with some clichés, if you will, leaving us with a good laugh that has stood the test of time.
There are no words to describe how this record got me through the most transitional period of my life and every time I listen to it, I’m immediately transported back to 2006 – whether that’s a good or bad thing, I’m still trying to decide. Either way, this record is definitely on my list of the most influential.