Country star Gretchen Wilson has set a May 15 release date for her third album, "One of the Boys," which will be released by Columbia in the wake Epic Nashville's closure last year. Wilson co-produced the 11-track set with Mark Wright and her Muzik Mafia mate John Rich of Big & Rich. Rich also guests on first single "Come To Bed," which has thus far topped out at No. 32 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart. The new album is the follow-up to 2005's "All Jacked Up," which has sold 1.2 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
is more like it. A song-by-song retort to fans who might confine Wilson to some trailer-park queendom and to critics who might dethrone her for All Jacked Up
, a half-hearted, hurried sequel to her quintuple-platinum debut, Gretchen Wilson's third album fires on all radio-ready-honky-tonk-and-hillbilly-rock cylinders. It's also a portrait of a tough, talented woman making her own way in what's still largely a man's, man's country world. She gets plenty of help from hot Nashville writers John Rich, Rivers Rutherford, and Vicky McGehee, but her working-class and feminist spin on country archetypes--temptation, whiskey, work, and Mom--is authentic and her own. Even when, as on the title track, she revisits "Redneck Woman," she retools the conceits with one of her best melodies. When she goes for the throat on "You Don't Have to Go Home," with a ripping fiddle line and an AC/DC guitar break, she's not just wailing last call: she's showing the whole honky-tonk who's boss. She still loves classic rock boogie--"Place in the Whiskey" quotes both Bob Seger and the melody of "Call Me the Breeze"--but she counters all the butt-kicking with solid ballads like "Heaven Help Me," "Pain Killer," and "To Tell You the Truth," her most heartbreaking and honest lyric. Funny, feisty, rocking and, best of all, true to herself, Wilson didn't really need a comeback album; nevertheless, she's made one that brings her all the way back. --Roy Kasten