Album Review: EleanorGrace — ‘Dream About A Cowboy’

On her debut album Dream About a Cowboy, there’s a quiet strength to EleanorGrace’s voice, like Reba McEntire and Billie Eilish had a baby that’s singing through Taylor Swift’s Fearless.

At only 19 years old, EleanorGrace (EG) has created a work of art with influences spanning decades and genres. The album opener, “Daydreams,” is an airy, modern-country-pop tune that begs to be cranked up while driving down an open highway, arm hanging out the window and undulating to the beat. It could easily be imagined as a Kelsea Ballerini song.

But on track four, “Did Yourself in,” EG’s slight yodel harkens back to country’s true roots in Appalachia. The fiddle makes me picture her sitting on a beat-up front porch, picking at a washboard while she laments, “It’s the end / The end of wanting revenge / I became a free woman tonight.”

The production, done by Bryan Vanderpool at Golden Bear Records, masterfully ties all of these elements together into an album that takes its cues from the entire history of country music and somehow coalesces into a collection of songs that pushes the modern genre’s boundaries.

EleanorGrace’s biggest talent lies in the poetry of her lyrics. “Daydreams” enters with a vividly turbulent image: “My hair’s a mess / And my favorite dress is ripping at the seams.” “Outlaw,” track five, gives “Wide Open Spaces” vibes with lines like “hightail it out of here and move out west,” but it’s the first line that creates the sweet intimacy of the song: “Carry my boots / Down the steps / Trying to avoid makin’ a bigger mess.”

“Moon Phases” captures a feeling of long nights sitting and staring out the window: “And I say it all to the moon / She moves the way that I do / I’m going through phases.” The third track “Nothing’s Real” brings the plight of Gen Z to the forefront: “Nothing’s real … except reality TV and pollution.”

EleanorGrace and her band perform in the art gallery at Hoyt Sherman Place for GDP Festival. Saturday, April 15, 2023. — Tyler Erickson/Little Village

Ultimately, on Dream About a Cowboy, you can hear that EG is only 19. She doesn’t always start lines strong. The last track, “Season Finale,” ruins the symmetry of starting the album on “Daydreams” and ending on title track “Dream About a Cowboy.” But it’s these imperfections that make the album so alluring — it’s raw, easy and dang catchy.

Her voice flits across notes so effortlessly you don’t even know they passed you by, and the album went just the same. I found myself wanting to listen over and over, wondering if this may just be Iowa’s own homegrown Fearless (EG’s Version).

This article was originally published in Little Village’s May 2023 issues.