Back home in Georgia — Kirsten Underwood McAlpin finds ‘Redemption’ on country EP

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While Kirsten Underwood McAlpin is focused on her radio gig at Albany’s B100 and Columbus’ South 106.1 WSTH, she earned her stripes in the aughts as a country pop chanteuse with “Redemption.” Check out a detailed review of the four-song EP. The sunny disc jockey is seen inside the historic Tift Theatre following “Strawberry Wine” blonde bombshell Deana Carter’s solo acoustic gig on November 11, 2015. A rare theatrical poster for Buster Crabbe’s “Mars Attacks the World!,” a condensed 68-minute adaptation of the thrilling 15-chapter black and white 1938 serial “Flash Gordon’s Trip to Mars,” guards the top of the stairs. Photography by Jeremy Roberts

Kirsten Underwood McAlpin exemplifies an unabashed South Georgia gal with a knack for picking a fine country song. During her gig as assistant program director and midday deejay for Albany’s B100 WOBB, Columbus’ South 106.1 WSTH, and Atlanta’s 94.9 The Bull, McAlpin continues to cultivate her appreciation of Music City USA with admirable results.

Born and raised in the Tift County rural community of Ty Ty, McAlpin possesses a deep-rooted agriculture background and loves to fish, although she refuses to bait her hook and rarely savors the hassle of detaching the unlucky fish. Influenced by Gary Allen, George Strait, Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood, and mentor Tricia Yearwood, the dishwater blonde chanteuse has sung on the legendary stage of the Wildhorse Saloon in Nashville.

Admittedly very self-conscious, McAlpin overcame her performance anxiety and enjoys being in front of folks. Carving her own trajectory, the God-fearing singer has never drunk any alcohol or smoked a cigarette but ironically loves “to play in smoky bars to drunk people.”

McAlpin remains focused on her radio career after a slog through the trenches of full time musicianship did not result in a record label calling. The last professional recording she did was “Over Now,” a duet with Heath Deloach from Moultrie, Georgia, in 2014. Singing occasionally in church these days, it’s worth revisiting Redemption, McAlpin’s debut four-track EP available to stream via ReverbNation or below. The 2009 EP of original material kicks off with “‘72 Chevy”, a reflective mid-tempo number penned by McAlpin. Featuring tasteful drums, keyboards, bass, guitar, and steel guitar, the singer’s heart-felt vocals are front and center.

The ballad explores a girl’s first date and the hopes and dreams that are expected as a relationship emerges. But their love didn’t endure, and there is a tinge of melancholy as the song’s protagonist recalls that fateful milestone. McAlpin says, “I write songs about real people and things I have seen or experienced.” Is it autobiographical? Perhaps so. McAlpin won the prestigious Georgia Country and Gospel Music Association [GCGMA] Songwriter of the Year Award for “‘72 Chevy.”

Up next is the title track, a ballad composed by McAlpin’s songwriting partner Jeff Parson, who also penned tracks three and four. Hinging on a soaring vocal, “Redemption” is a three-minute country pop song with acoustic guitar, steel, drums, bass, and a distinctive piano anchoring the song’s powerful chorus. Based on a man who left his girl for another woman, the song’s narrator proclaims that she has moved on with her life, and her ex-boyfriend need not apply for redemption at her doorstep.

“Just Show Me” is third, and this is where the EP changes gears, moving up tempo and rocking all the way. McAlpin’s sassy vocal proves she isn’t a one-trick pony. The first electric guitar solo of the EP bows here, and the foot-tapping song could easily be found on contemporary country radio. During the catchy “Just Show Me,” the protagonist tells her lover how things are going to be if he plans to hang around — “I don’t need no Romeo to whisper sweet nothin’s to me, just show me your love.”

The final and favorite track of this McAlpin fan is fittingly entitled “Back Home in Georgia.” Bookending the EP with “‘72 Chevy” and this cut were wise decisions, as they are the strongest recordings. In fact, it’s head-scratching that “Back Home in Georgia” was not chosen as the EP’s title as a live version won Video of the Year at a GCGMA ceremony. Clocking in at nearly five minutes, the opening verse may resonate with beach-goers of a certain persuasion — “I’ve stood on the beaches on Jekyll Isle, sat on the sand awhile, watched the warm sun rise out of the sea.”

Parson is obviously a Georgian who has traveled afar as this ballad relates how sweet it is for a musician to finally come home. From South Georgia to President Jimmy Carter’s home in Plains to Hot ‘Lanta, “Back Home in Georgia” deserves a wider audience. A steel guitar’s plaintive cry, followed by an electric guitar solo, anchor the bridge, with the final verse asserting, “When it’s my time to go, I hope the Lord will take my soul, and send the rest of me, back home to Georgia.”

© Jeremy Roberts, 2010, 2018. All rights reserved. To touch base, email jeremylr@windstream.net and mention which story led you my way. I appreciate it sincerely.

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Retro pop culture interviews & lovin’ someone fierce sustain this University of Georgia Master of Agricultural Leadership alum. Email: jeremylr@windstream.net

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