Lonesome Jetboat Ramblers

In Victoria Bailey’s songs, she carries us over an expansive emotional and musical terrain. We ride with her through the desolation of loss, over the rocky ledges of heartache, across the fields of blossoming wildflowers of new love, and along the plains of promise and new-found faith. Bailey’s vocals ring with an emotional purity that reverberates deeply. Like Emmylou Harris and Dolly Parton, Bailey dwells in her songs, drawing out every note of emotion with her vocal phrasing and musical range.

Like all classic bluegrass and country songs, Bailey’s songs are atmospheric, telling stories of love gone wrong or evoking the memory of a special place or celebrating the joys of a special relationship. On her new album, A Cowgirl Rides On, Bailey travels alongside Harris, Parton, Loretta Lynn, and other classics as she delivers a collection of personal, heartfelt songs that resonate universally. Awash in pedal steel, fiddle, mandolin, banjo, and guitar, the songs on A Cowgirl Rides On create an openness into which Bailey enters with her intimate vocals. “I feel like each song has a little piece of me,” reflects Bailey. “I wanted the record to feel like I sound live.” With this in mind, she and producer Brian Whelan, who also co-wrote some of the songs, recorded the songs live.

The title track opens quietly with Bailey’s vocals and guitar strums but soon blooms with layers of spiraling pedal steel, fiddle, and harmony vocals. “This is my favorite song on the album,” Bailey notes. Inspired by the book “Distant Skies,” it’s based on the true story of a woman who rode her horse across the country from New York to California. “It’s the story of a cowgirl finding so much strength in her solitude,” says Bailey. “I was also really tying in my own experience when I wrote it, going through a breakup and finding hope and strength through riding horses and taking risks.”

Bailey reveals the genius of her songwriting in the breakup song “Forever, You & I.” The brightness of the thrumming music belies the heartbreak in the lyrics, but Bailey illustrates cannily the ways that love still has a hold on one corner of our hearts even in the wake of a breakup. “This was the last song written for the album,” Bailey recalls. “It’s a classic heartbreak song about exactly what I was going through at the time.”

Banjoes and fiddles launch and propel the jaunty bluegrass rambler “Snake Trails.” “I started humming this song while I was out riding my horse,” Bailey recounts. “It turned into more of a gospel song about finding faith through riding my horse in the canyon and all its beauty bringing me closer to God.”

At its heart, A Cowgirl Rides On is a bluegrass gospel album. “It’s kind of always been on my heart to make a western gospel album that ties into all the things I love,” says Bailey. Although her faith didn’t come until later in life, she got baptized about seven years ago. “About the same time,” she recalls, “I fell in love with bluegrass/country/old-time gospel music, and I really wanted to turn it into an album. It’s a big part of my life.”

While all of the songs on the album resonate with echoes of the gospel, three songs—“Down From The Mountain,” “Sweet By & By,” and “Waiting At The Gate”—connect deeply, both sonically and lyrically. “Down From The Mountain” opens with and rides along the sonic framework of the traditional “Give Me That Old Time Religion;” fiddle and banjo play call and response in Bailey’s spry, old-time song. “I had a vision for a song that represents spreading the word of the gospel, but in my own life,” Bailey relates. Unfurling slowly, “Sweet By & By,” the final song on the album, floats with a gentle, almost prayer-like spirit, praising fellowship and the beauty of this life and the life to come. “I was in bed, spending a lot of time in prayer,” says Bailey. “It came to me as a comforting melody. It was the first song written for the record. The lyrics also follow the tradition of glorifying heaven and leaving behind a life lived well and true in faith.” The album also includes a cover of Ricky Skaggs’ rendition of “Waiting At The Gate,” a meandering, jaunty fiddle tune driven by gorgeous harmonies. “This song is so much fun,” says Bailey. “It fits well with ‘Sweet By & By’ and ‘Down From The Mountain.’ Ricky Skaggs’ album Soldier of the Cross really set a tone of what I wanted this record to sound like. It definitely inspired the gospel bluegrass heart of the songs.”

Bailey is joined on A Cowgirl Rides On by some of LA’s best musicians. “I’m really proud of the players on this album,” says Bailey. “It gave me a lot of confidence to be in the room with these guys. It showed a lot on the record; we only did a couple of takes on each song.” She heard guitarist Brian Whelan (Jim Lauderdale, Dwight Yoakam) perform on a Merle Haggard tribute, and says she was drawn to him. “He’s a great producer,” says Bailey. Other players include Ted Russell Kamp (Shooter Jennings, Tanya Tucker) on bass; Philip Glenn (Show Ponies, Jason Hawk Harris) on fiddle, mandolin, and banjo; Jeremy Long (Sam Outlaw) on pedal steel and Dobro; and Leeann Skoda on background vocals.

Huntington Beach, California, native Bailey grew up surrounded by music. Her father was a drummer in a rock band, and her mother was immersed in the music of Cat Stevens and James Taylor. “I grew up listening to a ton of Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Cat Stevens, James Taylor, and Sheryl Crow,” Bailey says. “My background is in folk and rock.” She picked up the guitar and started playing when she was 12, and she eventually started writing songs by the time she was 17.

Bailey started performing shows around town in her late teens, discovering country music in the honky tonks she performed in, and she honed her craft in the country bars and on the stages in the LA area. In 2020, she released her first country album Jesus, Red Wine & Patsy Cline to wide acclaim. 2022 found Bailey working on her follow-up release while continuing to look for ways to perform her songs and hone her storytelling. She supported Nashville’s Sam Outlaw on two tours, and she opened for breakthrough artist Jesse Daniel at the legendary Pappy & Harriet’s Saloon. She has headlined shows in LA at the Grand Ole Echo, and she’s performing this year at Docent Fest with headliners Jamestown Revival. Bailey is committed to

educating others about folk, roots, and country music, and in 2016 started “Little Folk Club to introduce children and families in her community to her love of traditional folk music and instruments.”

Bailey’s passion and dedication to making authentic country music shines through her performances and her songwriting. She preserves a country sound that has been lost but is now making its way back. With A Cowgirl Rides On, Bailey joins torchbearers Kacey Musgraves and Margo Price in a way that would make Patsy, Loretta, Dolly, and Emmylou proud.

Lonesome Jetboat Ramblers

Lonesome Jetboat Ramblers