As the country duo Bomshel, Buffy Lawson and Kristy O. are about as subtle as two sticks of dynamite.
A potent combination of hard-won experience and youthful vitality, Bomshel unites powerhouse singer Buffy Lawson with fiery fiddler Kristy O. Alone, both guaranteed to be the most colorful woman in any room they enter. Together, they create a sound that grabs country music by its roots and jerks it into the 21st Century.
Lawson's an emotive, take-no-prisoners singer with a reputation as one of Nashville's most in-demand demo singers, as well as one of its riskiest songwriters. Kristy O is a horse-riding, ski-racing, stage-diving fiddler who can make her bow sing sweet and mournful or shred it with lightning ferocity, even if she happens to be riding on the shoulders of a fan that caught her during one of her spontaneous leaps from the stage.
"We're fearless about what we do," says Lawson, a Lexington, Kentucky, native who moved to Nashville in the 1990s and became a writing protégé of Country Hall of Fame member Harlan Howard and duet partner with Neil Diamond. "We aren't afraid to be ourselves, even if what we do may shock some people."
One thing's certain: Bomshel's self-titled debut on Curb Records is not your average, mild-mannered country debut. Take Dolly Parton's can't-be-denied vivacity, Shania Twain's wink-and-a-smile audacity and Big & Rich's everything-and-the-kitchen-sink creativity, and then put it in the supercharged heels of two fun-loving entertainers with the charisma and musical chops to pull it off.
"I love country music and everything it's about, and I've always been drawn to high-energy performers," says Kristy O, who grew up in rural Sandpoint, Idaho, where the Suzuki Method-trained fiddler was performing onstage and racing down the famous Schweitzer Ski Basin before she entered elementary school. "I always knew that I wanted to combine my love for music with something wild and energetic."
Bomshel's aggressive sound combines Nashville songcraft, rock dynamics and funk rhythms, all served up with a steel-magnolia spirit. The music ranges from heart touching to hard rocking to booty shaking with boots on the dance floor songs like "Bomshel Stomp" and "It Was an Absolutely Finger Lickin' Grits & Chicken Country Music Love Song," which have the gutsy bodaciousness of "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk" and "Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)."
Yet, first and foremost, they are talented musicians and songwriters who anchor their fun in outstanding musicianship. Kristy's expert fiddling and Buffy's forceful voice not only give them a solid foundation, it also gives them the ability to convincingly take their music to fresh, engaging places.
The band stage-tested its progressive sound by setting up on Tuesday nights, usually one of the slowest nights of the week in nightclubs, in Nashville's most historic proving ground, Tootsie's Orchid Lounge. Within weeks, they packed in crowds that blended old-time traditional country fans, young rock fans, college students and corporate workers from the nearby business high-rises. Their shows became a weekly phenomenon that included a group of fans who traveled 70 miles round trip every Tuesday to see the show.
"That live experience helped us find our sound, but also to know that some of our wilder ideas would be accepted by regular die-hard country fans," says Kristy. "We wanted to push the envelope and do something that was really us, something that had a lot of humor but also a lot of heart."
Kristy O got the idea for Bomshel when attending her first Fan Fair in 2004. In her previous band, Kristy had been reprimanded for climbing lighting rigs, jumping onto tables, kicking over chairs, even finding a strong-legged fan to let her ride his shoulders while she played a solo. But, at Fan Fair she felt a revelation when she witnessed firsthand the enthusiasm of country audiences and their desire to just have fun. She became determined to put together a band that understood how a dynamic, spontaneous stage show could excite fans and add a level of excitement to country music's sincerity and song-oriented style.
"I met with a lot of singers," she says. "It just never felt right for one reason or another. I wanted a singer with the presence and the confidence to pull off what I had in mind. I wanted somebody who would walk out there and with one look the audience could tell, 'She's a rock star!'"
Then she met Buffy Lawson. "I was so impressed with her. She played me 'The One That Got Away.' I bawled my eyes out. She played song after song that knocked me out. I knew she was the one. She was talented, gorgeous and one of the nicest and funniest people I've ever met," says Kristy. "Ironically I found out later that ninety percent of the songs I had originally brought in to have Buffy sing were actually written by her."
"We felt an immediate creative connection," says Buffy. "It was important to me that it be authentic and organic, that it not be something contrived. We had to have a real artistic rapport and a real strong sense that we were right together and we could do something better together than we did apart."
Buffy's and Kristy's songs and vision merged perfectly, and together they took the project from idea to something vibrant and real. What people notice first is the duo's cheeky energy and humor, which runs through songs like "It Was an Absolutely Finger Lickin' Grits & Chicken Country Music Love Song," "Oh Baby" and "Don't Water Down My Whiskey," all featuring Buffy's high-speed, rat-a-tat vocals and Kristy's harmonies and ferocious fiddle.
"That's just the way my brain works," says Buffy of her style. "I'm a stream-of-consciousness writer, so I had to learn to sing in a way that could keep up with the words and articulate them clearly. Once I could do that, I realized how much fun it is and how much songwriting is a part of me."
But Bomshel has a much wider range than its attention-getting country rockers. Songs like "It Ain't My Day to Care" and "Be Yourself" address modern women and the pressures they face in balancing work, family and relationships. A sensitive heart shines through on "The One That Got Away," about an elderly woman sharing a private story of a first love, and "Calling All Angels," a beautiful, soaring song about leaning on love and faith in a time of grieving.
"There's a different side to us than just the wild stuff," says Buffy. "We wanted to have a variety of songs that bring out different emotions. "I've always been influenced by strong women who aren't afraid to embrace the risks they take, even if it means that they become the punchline."
At its core, that's what Bomshel represents: The joy that comes with letting down your guard and being yourself, no matter how wild, silly or serious you may feel at any given moment.
Buffy and Kristy O are ready to take on a country music scene, packed with talented male duos, and rock it to its core; Bomshel style. With their fun-loving attitudes and remarkable talent, Bomshel's future is bright. Step aside guys, this Bomshel is ready to explode.
--- from the official Bomshel website