Guest-starring on Season 5 of Yellowstone as musician Abby isn’t the only thing Lainey Wilson has been up to. Check out her role on the show and what else she has coming up.
Yellowstone has made a habit of welcoming musicians onto its cast for prominent roles on the show. First was ranch hand Walker played by Ryan Bingham. Then came John Dutton’s son Kacey portrayed by Luke Grimes (who released his first song “No Horse to Ride” late last year). With Season 5 Lainey Wilson became the latest member of the club, joining the cast as the musician Abby.
Her songs provide much of the soundtrack for Yellowstone’s current season; with one of the first to be featured was “New Friends”. The song can be heard in the background of Episode 4 as the business date between Jamie Dutton (Wes Bentley) and Market Equities’ shark Sarah Atwood (Dawn Olivieri) turns into a flirtatious affair at a hotel bar.
According to Wilson, “New Friends” developed during the pandemic and on the tail end of heartbreak, making it the perfect fit to play when a defeated, down-on-his-luck Jamie finds his latest love interest, for better or worse. The song’s chorus captures this shared feeling best.
“I felt all sorts of emotions during that time, so I decided to channel that heartbreak as much as possible,” says Wilson of the co-write with Park Chisolm and Mark Irwin. “Writing the song felt like ‘one last cry.’ It was therapy for me that day, and now every time I sing the song, I'm reminded that time heals all wounds, even those you think will never heal.”
Wilson is no stranger to Yellowstone fans. Several of her songs have appeared on the show going as far back as Season 2, long before she joined the cast as Abby for the current season.
As for how the role of Abby came about, Wilson mentioned meeting show co-creator Taylor Sheridan at his “Run for a Million” horse reining event held annually in Las Vegas. After performing a private concert for the cast and crew during the pandemic, she received a call from him last February with an idea. He wanted to create a character specifically for her named Abby, but “I would get to sing my own songs and wear my bell bottoms.”
Despite having never acted before, Wilson said the opportunity was one that she couldn’t pass up.
“I had so much fun getting a chance to be creative in a different way and learned that I just love being creative in general, whether it's singing, writing music, acting, dancing, you name it. We aren't growing if we aren't stepping outside our comfort zones and doing things that are just plain scary. I never knew I would end up on Yellowstone, or acting for that matter, but I knew if there were ever any chance of me sharing my music with the world, I would do it — no matter how scary.”
Lining up perfectly with her Yellowstone casting was Wilson’s fourth full-length album, Bell Bottom Country, which was released just prior to the show’s Season 5 premiere on October 28. Several of the songs from it — such as “Smell Like Smoke” (Episode 3), “Hold My Halo” (Episode 6), and “Watermelon Moonshine” (Episode 6) — along with “New Friends” have made cameos during the first half of the season, promoting her new songs and bringing them to a new audience.
The platform afforded to Wilson and her music means even more on a show like Yellowstone because she’s been a fan since its inception. It portrays the same values that her Louisiana farming family instilled in her: standing up for what you believe in and fighting for what you've worked hard for. To date, Wilson has had seven of her songs placed on the show, with more likely to get feature spots during future episodes.
“Yellowstone has single-handedly made the Western way of life cool again — it should have never not been cool — and made country music fans out of people who might not have listened to country before,” says Wilson. “It's crazy to think a show can have that much impact, but Yellowstone has changed the game.”