WATGB: Amber Wilding Stone – ‘Complicated Contradiction’; An Album Review

To coincide with their new monthly residency on the MDR airwaves, Where Are The Girl Bands? offer us a monthly glimpse into what they’ve been up to and what’s caught their attention over the past 30 days…

This month, Ella turns her attention to Amber Wilding Stone’s latest LP ‘Complicated Contradiction’.

Amber Wilding Stone is the epitome of rock and roll with unique vocals and grunge-y tracks that feel reminiscent of Hole and Blondie. 

The album ‘Complicated Contradiction’ begins with a bang, immediately leading you by the hand, running in cowboy boots straight into Amber’s world of grit, grunge and gorgeous honesty. Heavy instrumentation helps build the story told throughout ‘Dirt Blonde Roots’ alongside the gritty vulnerability of the lyrics.

Next up is ‘what’s she got’, a direct and smoky plea to a lover that’s tied up in uncertain empowerment. The song dips in between longing and self-love, speaking to the complexity of how we navigate breakdowns in relationships, all to the soundtrack of country rock melodies. Amber Wilding Stone’s vocals are lilting and soaked in the sultry sound of finally finding your own strength and letting others know that you no longer need them.

‘That Girl Jolene’ follows, a song that Amber Wilding Stone has suggested is somewhat autobiographical. “One of those girls they name hurricanes after” feels a fitting description for an artist who’s sensuality and strength sweep you off your feet and take you away to a whole other place. This song has edge while staying fun and catchy, painting the picture of a main character who is both wild and desired. 

The next track, ‘Sweet Memory’ feels straight out of a duke box playing in a bar in the 80s, a sweet memory delivered with spite and strength. The guitar riffs feel comfortingly nostalgic, like slipping back into your favourite worn pair of cowboy boots. The lyrics are direct and build a picture to match the visceral vibes of the rest of the track, building a world around you thanks to the complex strength of character coming through Amber Wilding Stone’s delivery.

‘Pillow Boyfriend’ slows things down with a lamenting melody and drawling guitar. Listening to this track makes you feel as though you should be slow dancing with a stranger, wrapped up in flannel while Amber sways on stage lit by the spotlight of a country club bar. As with the rest of the tracks on this album this song feels raw and honest, a genuine representation of the lonely road that love sometimes lays for us.

‘Five Bottles’ feels like the other side of ‘pillow boyfriends’ coin, filled with energy and the empowerment that you can sometimes find when allowing yourself to soak in your sadness. The lyrics surround a message to a lover with imagery such as unmade beds and a blocked out world, giving a complicated and candid perspective true to the album’s title. 

‘Lonely’ carries on the energy of the precious track, filled with confusion and energy with vocals that build and layer. The fast paced nature of the delivery feels reflective, like we are peering into an inner monologue that’s accompanied by country guitar and constant drums. This song is one of the most emotionally charged on the track and a joy to listen to.

‘Tell me its right’ is theatrical in concept, building a story through melody instrumentation and the sweet and sorrowful vocals. This song feels like an uninhabited plea, wanting to be desired, wanting to be held and knowing that these urges may come from some place dark and unstable, but craving that love all the same. This song feels like an admission both to self and to the lover, with gorgeous moments such as the a Capella line “love is only borrowed” and swirling guitar riffs. 

Next up is the title track ‘complicated contradictions’, a song which leaves Amber Wilding Stone’s heart very much on her sleeve. With memorable hooks and that smoky country sound this song is both catchy and unique. The lyrics speak to self sabotage and losing yourself in your feelings, something which is beautifully conveyed in Amber’s emotion soaked vocals. 

‘Lost Boys’ is a track which feels like a Labour of love, conveying anger and feeling and love all in one. This song feels like a release, as though catharsis has been reached through the spilling out of lyrics and resonating with the filtered guitar and punchy drums kicking beneath the colourful vocals.

‘Made to Burn’ is a track which feels like it would fit perfectly in a 90s film, sitting somewhere between whimsical and woefully real. With a groove that keeps your head nodding this track is one to listen to when you’re frustrated as you feel your own pent up thoughts pouring out through Amber Wilding Stone’s vision.

‘Beauty and Disaster’ is both sexy and tongue in cheek, reclaiming the chaos of being both vulnerable and strong. This track is animated and passionate, continuing the themes of nuance and duality that run through the album with that same sweet rock and roll sound.

The final track is ‘warning label’, that feels somewhere between alternative blues and edgy alternative pop. This song reaches out to the misfits and outcasts through that embracing of your truth no matter how messy or complex it might be, and reminding those who have been told that they are too much to handle that you are worthy!