Bailey Bigger’s debut album Coyote Red is a poetic and gentle re-introduction into the powers of songwriting. Born and raised just outside of Memphis, Tennessee, (in Marion, Arkansas) Bigger has been writing songs and playing guitar since she was nine years old. After winning “Memphis’ Best Song of 2017,” at 17 years old, she has been performing at several venues and festivals in the South ever since. She has been cited as an up and coming artist by Memphis magazine and was recently named “Newcomer of the year” in 2020 by The Commercial Appeal. Bigger is known for her songwriting and authentic sound that feels like it belongs to a bygone era. Coyote Red is an honest, vulnerable, and often bittersweet album that features Bigger ’s gents voice reflecting on her life.
Coyote Red is imbued with hope, a theme that seems to penetrate every song on the album, no matter the subject matter. Bigger talks honestly and openly about her personal struggles and fears throughout the 10 tracks, but there’s an atmosphere of resilience that keeps Coyote Red joyous. By pairing heartfelt lyrics with warm stripped back acoustic guitars, keys, and banjo’s it often feels like Bigger is triumphing over her pain. One of her most impressive vocal performances is on “The Levee” a dark and very real depiction of a troubled relationship. Bigger sings with a wisdom and resignation way beyond her years. These lyrics in the second verse blew me away, “He’d feed me all his truth/I found nothing but lies/And cocaine on the steering wheel/So I mend his bleeding nose/And try to forgive the youth.” There is something so real and palpable about Bigger’s songwriting which makes “The Levee,” in particular, feel like you’re watching a movie.
The song “Wyly” caught my attention when Bigger opens with, “Life is just one long walk home/At sundown in the rain or snow.” “Wyly” is an intriguing song about the passing of time, regret, and accepting the loss of innocence. It features Bigger singing to her sibling about trusting the path that you’re on, no matter where it leads you. Not regretting some of the mistakes that have formed us, because you would not be the person you are now (or where you are now) without them. Another theme of “Wyly” is the complexity of growing older and the eternal fading of our memories. Bigger captures the essence of changing times with the lyric, “The bridge was made of rotting wood/I remember, now its gone for good.” She follows this with the poignant chorus, “Let’s build a shrine for our innocence/And a castle for our dreams/Cause I will defend you in the darkness/And build a home out of memories.” It’s a beautifully crafted song that feels like a reminder, a plea, and a trip down memory lane all at the same time.
I appreciate that Bigger never shies away from the truth in her songwriting. She’s willing to lean into her emotions when most would lean out. Although her songs are incredibly evocative, they don’t have an ounce of melodrama in them, just realism. Bigger’s maturity and emotional intelligence is what makes her songwriting so soulful and moving. There’s a respect and understanding for emotions and the lessons they inevitably teach us. No depth is too deep, she embraces the gift of feeling and all of its complexities. One of the best lyrics on “Wyly” is, “Let those lonely nights feel long/Never stop writing your songs.” This said it all to me, Bigger understands that its a gift to feel, even if its rough. That those long lonely nights often lead to artistic innovation and self-realization.
Coyote Red is a wise album that celebrates the highs and lows of living. I can already tell that Bigger is one of those musicians that can never miss. Bigger leads with her heart which is a rare trait to find in todays music industry. It’s hard to believe she’s only at the beginning of her career, but if this is where she’s starting, I cannot wait to see where she’s headed. If you’ve been longing for Summer or are in need for music that reminds you of why life is so wonderful, listen to Coyote Red, out now!