Schoolteacher Turned Honky-tonk Troubadour: Summer Dean Finds Power in Life’s Disappointments.
Dean built her audiences on the road. She’s played bars and dancehalls, booking every show herself, mixing her songs with comedic banter. Dean’s ability to spin a yarn and engage with her audience during live shows with wit and humor comes out in spades on Bad Romantic.
After sharing bills with likeminded artists including Mike and the Moonpies, Asleep at the Wheel, Marty Stuart, Colter Wall and Nikki Lane, Dean’s album seems like somewhat of a victory lap for a self-made artist who’s earned her spot in country music’s hip inner circle. On Bad Romantic, Wall for the first time co-writes and duets with another musician, creating the album’s waltzing, pedal steel-filled centerpiece “You’re Lucky She’s Lonely” with Dean. Whitney Rose and Bonnie Montgomery sing harmonies, and Robert Ellis plays piano on “Dear Caroline,” a song about the Dust Bowl and the dangers of overworking the land.
Songs like “Picket Fence” and “Blue Jean Country Queen” are proud declarations of uniqueness, anchored by barroom arrangements worthy of some long-lost Merle Haggard record. “When I released my first EP, I was feeling a little sorry for myself,” Summer admits. “But now, it’s more of a pride thing. This is who I am, and I like it.” Elsewhere, she sings the praises of long horizons and longer drives on “A Thousand Miles Away,” a love letter to the road co-written with Matt Hillyer of Eleven Hundred Springs. A handful of songs written by Brennen Leigh and Simon Flory showcase her strength as an interpreter, but Bad Romantic always feels like Dean. This is traditional country music for the modern world — for sawdust-covered dance floors, worn out blue jeans, and sunset drives in the ranch truck— performed with tenderness one minute and tenacity the next. Bad Romantic or not, it’s hard not to fall in love with Summer Dean.
“Singer-songwriter Summer Dean makes it clear that she’s not content to wait around for doors to open. She’ll bust them down herself with a cowboy boot and a soulful honky tonk twang.” —Bobbie Jean Sawyer, Wide Open Country
“Once you’ve heard her faintly twangy voice – it’s nearly impossible to forget” –Preston Jones, Star Telegram
“Summer has a real soulful, country sound and puts on an amazing live performance. She is a really good songwriter, and she connects to both men and women.” –Shayne Hollinger, 95.9 The Ranch
“I use some of your lyrics on my Tinder profile.” –Girl fan at bar
Husband and Wife Roots, Country and Folk group from Bakersfield, CA.