The one thing I noticed when listening to Lily Garland was her voice. It is big, strong and powerful. With a confident sound to match that great set of lungs, it is perhaps no surprise that she was recently nominated for “Country Artist of the Year” at the UK Country Music Awards. Listening to her latest EP, “The Next Chapter”, it appears she has created five fantastic tracks, painting her voice onto a canvass of catchy music and well-written lyrics. It is an eclectic mix that perhaps reflects her conversion to country music back in 2000. According to her website, her ‘love of country music began when she saw the Dixie Chicks perform live in Austin, Texas… [and] their songs made her want to dance in her seat one moment and then cry the next’. This emotional see-saw is clearly on display in “The Next Chapter”. Garland begins with some standard country fare in the shape of “Queen of her own World”, demonstrating a feistiness not only in her lyrics but in her performance too. Then comes a laid-back number, “He’s not the One“, before another gear change takes us into standout song “Save Me”. It is such a feel-good number, with a great chorus line, and a catchy beat that will have even the most staunch opponents of dancing tapping their feet to its rhythm. It is certainly good enough to be in the mainstream charts, as is the EP’s final track, “I’m Coming for You”. This is the perfect song to rock out to – a nice bit of punk that will sweep you up into Garland’s hurricane and lift you out of the slumber of the previous number, “I’ll Never Break Your Heart”. This is the point where you are most likely to cry. For me, it sent me into a kind of trance rather than leading me to tears. I became lost in its slow-burning warmth – like a heated swimming pool, the water gently lapping at my sides, ensconced in the moment. It is so utterly different to the tracks either side of it, yet it nestles perfectly in between them. If she was aiming to emulate her first experience of the Dixie Chicks, she has certainly managed to do so rather well considering the microcosmic space of a quarter-hour EP. With such strength of voice and confidence, it wouldn’t be a surprise if this lady hits much bigger heights in the future. Already, Lily Garland has a very accomplished sound.