Summer Dean embodies the spirit of country music in a way that is difficult to find nowadays. And she’s been delivering her brand of solid gold country from local Texas stages for so long I’m surprised that this is her first full-length release.
Her full-length debut album Bad Romantic, out August 27th, struts out of the speakers, but also finds balances moments of tenderness and vulnerability. The album stakes a claim for Dean in the same genre that first captivated her attention as a girl in rural Texas. Her grandfather raised cattle and her father worked in land conservation. Dean developed a connection not only to the soil she stood on, but also to the music that sound tracked her small-town experience, steadily building the foundation for the traditionally minded sound that would fill her songs.
After sharing bills with likeminded artists including Mike and the Moonpies, Asleep at the Wheel, Marty Stuart, Colter Wall and Nikki Lane, Dean’s album seems like somewhat of a victory lap for a self-made artist who’s earned her spot in country music’s hip inner circle. On Bad Romantic, Wall for the first time co-writes and duets with another musician, creating the album’s waltzing, pedal steel-filled centerpiece “You’re Lucky She’s Lonely” with Dean. Whitney Rose and Bonnie Montgomery sing harmonies on various songs, and Robert Ellis plays piano on “Dear Caroline,” a song about the Dust Bowl and the dangers of overworking the land.
Watch the video for “You’re Lucky She’s Lonely” featuring Colter Wall below.
Bad Romantic was recorded at Niles City Sound, notable Fort Worth-area analog studio. Encouraged by the reception of 2016’s Unladylike — a critically-acclaimed EP that introduced her mix of vintage influences and modern muscle — Dean recorded the album to tape and made a conscious decision to fully invest herself in country music.
“I taught elementary school for 10 years,” Dean says. “That’s what small-town Texas girls do. We teach school, work at the bank, or at the courthouse. Then we get married and have babies and a few dogs and die happy, buried next to our husbands. But here I am, age 40, quitting my stable job, cashing in the wedding money my momma put aside for me, and making this album.”