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Lainey Wilson Explains Why ‘Country Music Is Cooler Than It’s Ever Been’: It’s a ‘Movement’ (Exclusive)

Lainey Wilson Modern Country
Lainey WilsonRob Kim/Getty Images

It’s been one of the biggest years in country music, and Lainey Wilson loves every moment of it.

“I think it’s really, really awesome, to be honest with you,” Wilson, 31, tells Us Weekly when discussing her partnership with Lone River Ranch Water. Millions agree with the “Watermelon Moonshine” singer. Morgan Wallen has been a fixture at the top of the Billboard Hot 100, with Jason Aldean, Jelly Roll, Oliver Anthony, Zach Bryan, Tyler Childers, Kacey Musgraves and Wilson herself all making numerous appearances on the rest of the chart.

The same can be said on the Billboard albums chart, where Luke Combs, Wallen, Bryan and Jelly Roll continue to put up numbers. “I think country music is cooler than it’s ever been,” remarks Wilson, who credits this year’s success as the result of momentum that started in 2020. “I mean, it has never not been cool. But, I think during the pandemic, people found themselves doing whatever to make them feel grounded and feel at home. And I think country music makes you feel at home.”

“I think a lot of people found themselves through country music. It feels like we’re a part of this pop culture movement right now, and it’s bigger than it’s ever been,” she continues.

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Wilson adds that she believes the genre is “going to keep growing,” explaining: “And I’m so proud to be a part of this generation of country music. “I think years down the road, I’ll be able to look back on it and be like, ‘I was a part of that then.’ And I think that’s probably how many country artists from the ‘90s feel today.”

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Lainey Wilson Jason Lowrie/

While the ‘90s are commonly associated with grunge, alternative and hip-hop, country music experienced one of its best periods during that decade, and Wilson sees similarities with the scene today: “I think the same excitement is there in the ‘90s when you think about Shania Twain and Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, and The Chicks and Garth Brooks. You think about all those artists and that it was a movement, a real movement.”

“But the other similarity that I find, I think, is country music is about that storytelling,” says Wilson. “I think we’re getting back to a little bit more of that, just like it was in the ‘90s.”

“I think country radio is not afraid to play a story song. I mean, even the song that me and HARDY got to do together this year – ‘Wait in the Truck’ — I mean, it’s a murder ballad, but it’s the kind of song that they would’ve played back in the ‘90s,” she continues. “I think people were craving that and longing just to feel something.”

Wilson has been making listeners feel something since she began her career in the early 2010s. The Baskin, Louisiana native began self-releasing music before signing with BBR Music Group in 2018. Her breakout single, “Things a Man Oughta Know,” hit the airwaves and streaming services in 2020, reaching No. 1 on the U.S. Country Airplay charts (and No. 32 on the Billboard Hot 100). In 2022, she released Bell Bottom Country, her second major-label album. The album won Album of the Year at the Academy of Country Music Awards, where she also won Female Artist of the Year.

Though Wilson is not afraid of incorporating pop and southern rock elements into her sound, All Music describes her music as “tough but heartfelt contemporary country” at heart. Wilson’s voice and uncompromising values led her to partner with Lone River Ranch Water. In May, she teamed with the brand to unveil a limited-edition packaging at a luncheon celebrating trailblazing women. In the first week of October, she treated fans in Nashville by handing out Lone River Ranch Water and tickets to an intimate performance dubbed “A Night on the Ranch with Lainey Wilson & Friends.”

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How did Wilson come to partner with the beverage brand? “I love [Katie Beal Brown’s] story,” says Wilson, referring to Lone River’s founder. “I think she has a very similar story to mine and I can relate to her.”

Wilson said she and Beal Brown have similar backgrounds and values since they both were born into a farming family.
“I think when you’re from a farming family like that, you really do have a work ethic that’s just ingrained in you,” adds Wilson. “I see it all over her and I think it’s really important to acknowledge strong, powerful women and help each other, bring each other up, help each other over that wall, and I think that’s what she’s done for me and what I’m doing for her too.”

Beal Brown describes Lone River as “a real brand from a real place and a real family,” telling Us: “Lainey and I connected early on because we both grew up in a small town and we have that kind of small-town sensibility; she even more than me. We’ve been on this wild ride over the past couple of years. So it’s been really fun to grow alongside her and really get a front-row seat to her journey, too.”

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Lainey Wilson Jason Lowrie/

Beal Brown notes that gratitude and solidarity are core tenements of the Lone River Ranch Water brand. “There have been so many people along this wild ride that have supported me and given me a shot,” she says, “and so, a big part of it for me is just paying it forward to other women, whether it be founders in the alcohol space or up and coming female country musicians.”

Beal Brown also said she volunteers a lot for the Alliance For Women In Beer, helping create more opportunities for women in the beer and spirits industry. “It’s now getting to where we’re seeing more diversity in leadership,” she says, “So it’s been amazing to connect with that group and leverage it as a platform to bring more women into the business.”

Lone River Ranch Water began elevating and celebrating strong women by teaming up with Miranda Lambert and Wilson since these stars vibe with the West Texas culture that birthed the classic drink. “Country music is really about storytelling,” says Beal Brown, echoing Wilson. “A cornerstone of our brand was to tell the story of where Ranch Water comes from. I think the most important thing to me is that there’s an authentic connection to somebody, and it’s not just something that feels like a big branded paid partnership.”

“I feel this great obligation to make West Texans proud of this drink that originated where we all come from,” she adds. “So I take that responsibility very seriously, and I would never want to do something they don’t feel proud of or proud to be a part of.”

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Wilson is also obligated to be as authentic as possible and pay her good success forward. When speaking with Us Weekly about the Nashville show, she was excited to talk about Jake Worthington. “He’s from Oklahoma, but he sounds like a Texas boy,” she says, “Oh my gosh, he’s one of the most incredible singers I’ve ever heard. I think when people hear his voice, they’re going to feel like they are in Texas.”

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Lainey Wilson Erika Goldring/WireImage

This, of course, led to the question about the difference between Oklahoma and Texas when it came to music. Without stepping on anyone’s boots, Wilson was delicate in her answer. “I would consider Texas country, red dirt country, a little more raw,” she said, adding that country music from Oklahoma is “a little more Americana leading. Correct me if I’m wrong, but that’s where my brain goes.”

Where Wilson’s brain goes, country music is sure to follow. The “Save Me” singer says that “the whole tone has shifted” when it comes to the genre. “You’re [always] going to have your party songs, your ‘Hell yeah! Beer-drinking’ songs,’ but I think people are listening to the lyrics [more], which is really cool,” she tells Us.

“There have been times where people have told me, ‘Don’t think about it too much, just write it. Just write it, make something with a good melody. People aren’t really listening to it that much.’ That is not the case anymore,” says Wilson. “People are diving in, dissecting the music, and that’s a beautiful thing for songwriters. We put our heart and soul into it, and we appreciate it when you notice.”

She hopes listeners bring that level of attention to her upcoming album. “I was working on my next album before Bell Bottom Country even came out,” concludes Wilson. “I’m writing a lot for it right now. I’m going to be getting into the studio really soon. And man, I’ll tell you what: I love creating these songs. I love bringing ’em to life with my producer, Jay Joyce. We’ll see. We’ll see what happens. I’m ready to get in there and mix it up.”

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