The first song of the EP, "Turn Me On Like The Radio," sounds like something from country music in the late 90's. It's the first introduction to Qualley's somewhat low, rich voice, and her smart lyrics. This song and "Dead And Gone" are the best examples of the mixture of contemporary and classic country in Qualley's music. The country instrumentals of "Dead And Gone" mark it as a true country song, but there's also a pop beat under all of it. It's a masterpiece, and Qualley's vocals shine. Lyrically it is a highlight, "Rivers run south / oceans run deep / blood runs thick and secrets don't keep / but this milk turns sour words are unsaid / air turns grey soon I'll be dead and gone." Qualley crafts a story without straight-out telling one, and establishes herself as a solid songwriter.
"Never Mine" is the true gem of this collection. A song about unrequited love, this song avoids the high school Taylor Swift cliché of "I'm invisible and I would love you better than the girl you're with." No, this is certainly no "Teardrops on My Guitar." Qualley takes a more mature stance on this situation and talks about she's always been there for this man, despite the fact that he never saw her in the way she saw him. She provides a compromise, a way to still be in his life with "I'll be your friend if that's what you're needing / when you hold her hand I'll look away," but when the bridge comes around the reality of the situation hits hard: "it feels like I'm losing you / but you can't lose what you never had." This is a classic, beautiful ballad that leaves a definite fabulous impression.
The song that springs out of the country genre more than the rest is "Kiss Me Drunk." This one is a bit of an oddball, and isn't cohesive with the rest of the EP. This fits less in the country genre and more into a 2003 Avril Lavigne/ pre-The Voice Cassadee Pope setting. It's an addicting song, with booming guitars and catchy pop rock production, but it doesn't work with the other songs. This does open other doors for Qualley, so if she decides she'd rather be a rock star, she knows she has the chops for it.
The last song is another slight oddball, but in a good way. It's hard to call "Cool Wild Whatever" a country song, but it has a smooth beat and Qualley's vocals are highlighted. Written by the same duo that wrote "Dead And Gone" and "Never Mine," Qualley and John Ramey, it's a slightly weird song, but it accurately represents Qualley's music — slightly weird. It rounds out the EP nicely.
Qualley has one heck of a voice. It's unique, strong and not a voice to be ignored. She has already found her country style, with the mix of the blues and pop rock elements. Rolling Stone Country dubbed one of 10 New Country Artists You Need to Know of Summer 2015, and she sure is. Keep an eye on her, cause she's not going anywhere.
Best tracks: Dead and Gone, Never Mine, Me and Johnny Cash
Throwaway tracks: Kiss Me Drunk
Overall rating: 4 and a half crowns