There’s a few lines from the title track of Kelsey Waldon’s latest album, “No Regular Dog,” which sums up the last two years of the singer-songwriter’s life.
“But nothin’ worth doing don’t come without a price / Better saddle up, better hold on tight / It’s gonna be a long ride.”
The loss of legendary singer-songwriter John Prine, to COVID complications in 2020, rocked the emerging country star’s world. Prine, who often offered honest critiques of his friends’ music, was such an unabashed Waldon fan that he signed her to his label, Oh Boy Records.
“The loss of John was really hard on me,” Waldon said while calling from Ashland City, Tennessee. “It’s still unbelievable. John saw my star way before other people did. He saw it before I did. I try to walk through that door the way John walked through it. I learned from John that in order to accomplish anything you have to work at it. I have a growing indie career and John will always be part of my story and I’ll always be part of his legacy.”
Waldon, 34, who will perform Thursday at the Lucky You Lounge, is a country girl, who grew up on Tanya Tucker, Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn. Waldon decided to become a singer-songwriter after experiencing Lynn’s exceptional 2004 album, “Van Lear Rose.”
Much of Waldon’s music is influenced by classic country but there is more to her sound, including folk, blues, R&B and rock. “I see my music and this album as a big umbrella. I have different styles in my music. But I am all about country. But I’m not trying to make music of a certain vintage. My music is steeped in roots music but country will never leave my sensibilities. I’m a country girl at heart.”
No one can replace Prine but Waldon has a new set of venerable ears, who is happy to work with the plucky songsmith. Shooter Jennings, who has produced Brandi Carlile, Marilyn Manson and Duff McKagan albums, was behind the board for “No Regular Dog.”
“Shooter and I wanted to work together for a long time,” Waldon said. “He was a fan of mine and I finally got to meet him when I opened for Tanya Tucker (in 2021). He told me that he would love to work for me and what touched me was how genuine he was. You hear people all the time say, ‘I’m a big fan’ but he was being genuine. He was telling me what he thought about my songs. He had some interesting takes on what I was doing before ‘No Regular Dog.’ We were super stoked to work together.”
Jennings encouraged Waldon to let it fly and the fiery bard tears it up with her lovely twang.
“I’ve been in a good place with Shooter,” Waldon said. “It’s been a tough time not having John Prine to go to anymore but I still have his family. His wife, Fiona (Whelan) is a special person. I just keep moving forward since it’s all I can do.”