First, a public service announcement: Exercise caution when listening to Stephanie Quayle’s “Winnebago” back-to-back with her prior single “Drinking with Dolly,” as listeners who have done so report severe symptoms of whiplash afterwords.
Quayle has been kicking around various music genres for over a decade now, but finally picked up a little traction last year with “Dolly,” a traditionally-sounding single full of references of female stars of yesteryear (in other words, it was Maren Morris’s “My Church” except done well). “A little traction,” however, only translated to a #36 on the Billboard Twitter Emerging Artists chart (whatever the heck that is), so Quayle is now pushing “Winnebago,” a song that is more closely oriented to the current pop-influenced mainstream sound. While traditionalists may grouse about this “heel turn,” I’d argue that a) the song isn’t bad, and b) the pair of songs do a good job of highlighting’s Quayle versatility as an artist.
The production here quickly announces its departure from the traditional sound of “Drinking with Dolly” with an in-your-face drum machine that serves as the prominent instrument throughout the entire song. The job of carrying the melody is mostly left to a funky-sounding electric guitar, but the song also does a nice job of seamlessly mixing in a steel guitar for flavor (in fact, it even lets the steel shine with a nice solo on the bridge). The uptempo mix creates a summery, carefree vibe for the song, one which complements the lyrics nicely.
Quayle herself is a pretty good vocalist (her voice bears a slight resemblance to a young Faith Hill), and while the song doesn’t show off her range much, she has more than enough charisma to own the footloose-and-fancy-free role given to her. Her flow is a bit choppy in spots, but for the most part she handles the fast tempo well, and more importantly, she demonstrates the ability to cover both deep, traditional tracks and lighthearted summer anthems with equal poise and aplomb.
The song itself is a call for a couple to travel the open road much like Jo Dee Messina’s 1996 hit “Heads Carolina, Tails California,” although I don’t see “Winnebago” having the same longevity. The songwriting is a bit over-reliant on name-dropping locations, and spends the entire bridge describing the song’s RV in way too much detail, but it paints a vivid picture of the narrator’s travel plans, and doesn’t get in the way of the song’s energy or enjoyment. Simply put, this is a whimsical summer song that’s meant to be enjoyed in the moment and forgotten as soon as the leaves change color, and it does its job.
Overall, “Winnebago” is a radio-ready summer single from an artist trying to break into country radio’s upper echelon any way she can, and while you may not recall the song five minutes after you hear it, you’ll at least enjoy it in the moment. I’ll be curious to see if radio gets behind this single or not, and where Quayle decides to take her musical direction next.
Rating: 6/10. Give it a listen and see what you think.