Barrence Whitfield is not a name you’re going to see praised to the rafters or land on every end-of-year “best of” list, but his influence and the power of his music is unwavering, and Under The Savage Sky is as good of a place to start discovering his genius as any. The way he’s able to sing with a sincerity to his soul tones, and then rear back into a wild scream is the stuff a totally immersive musical experience is made of.
“Lonely” is no ordinary song. In February of 2015, Tami’s father, Ron Neilson, passed away. Tami grew up performing in a family band with her father and the rest of her family, touring throughout Canada and the United States, even opening for Johnny Cash and other notable country stars along the way. Ron Neilson began writing “Lonely” in 1972, and recorded a demo for it outside a hotel room.
I’m sure Danielle is a super sweet girl and that her hair smells ravishing, but her latest single “Friend Zone” is a techno-loaded disaster that takes the worst attributes from Iggy Azalea’s id and shoehorns them into a meager, non-country composition, stinging the ear drums like flying battery acid.
I don’t know what they’re lacing the Canadian municipal water supplies with these days that allows the great frozen north to churn out authentic country and roots artists worthy of ears in bumper crop fashion, but they better import some of that concoction down here to the States post haste because Canada is kicking our ass in cool new country artists per capita.
“People forget how great country music is, and we haven’t,” Maddie Marlow was recently quoted as saying. “It’s nice knowing we’re putting the banjo, the fiddle, the steel and the mandolin back out front.” And that’s what they do in their debut full-length album “Start Here,” though you probably won’t catch many Waylon fans bobbing their heads along.
Without anyone left to please but himself, Pat Green is free to exorcise his demons, get some stuff off his chest, make the album he wants to, and hopefully reconnect with those grassroots in Texas country that once helped carry him to the top, and he once turned his back on. To some his name will continue to be mud, but that doesn’t mean his musical output will be.
A blanket of thick smoke had settled down in the valleys of Southern Oregon as it tends to do seasonally when the region burns in annual wildfires that have become especially ravaging over the last few years. But that didn’t hold back the crush of eager patrons flocking to the legendary Britt Pavilion in the picturesque town of Jacksonville, Oregon to take in a performance by legendary country music artist Dwight Yoakam.
Though it would be unfair to lump Kip Moore in with the inner sanctum of the Bro-Country sect, the biggest song of his career so far has been the decidedly Bro mega hit “Somethin’ ‘Bout a Truck.” Kip was already veering somewhat in the direction of the style we see reveal itself in full force on Wild Ones before the release, so we can’t be wholeheartedly surprised by the overall style of this album.
Jason James isn’t afraid to to pen a song in a traditional style and then challenge himself to sing it with the same heart and passion as one of the old greats. Nobody will ever replace George Jones or ‘Ol Hank, but that doesn’t mean others can’t try to reach for that same level of excellence, and pay forward the traditions of country to a new era of listeners who still find value in the classic modes.
A fairly raucous, country rock song with a sound wide enough to fill an arena, it reveals a different side of Carrie compared to what we’ve heard more recently. The single is an ode to the hard working closet smoker and drinker who despite claiming to avoid bad habits, admits to partaking in a bit of vice every once in a while to take the edge off of a dreary existence.
A new song or video from Mo Pitney these days is becoming grounds for an immediate stop down, and the only drawback to be concerned about is if the new car smell on all the songs will be gone once his debut major label album is released. It’s not just the songs, it’s the care with which Mo Pitney delivers them. Each performance feels custom made and ornamented with such purity and heart.
Langhorne Slim isn’t just looking to entertain you with The Spirit Moves. This isn’t just music in the sense that you listen to it, bob your head and tap your toes, and then go about your business. Langhorne is aiming to stir something up deep inside of you that awakens an inner yearning which in many cases the rest of the world is attempting to suppress, and in turn, maybe inspire to you help aid a similar awakening in others.
Luke Bryan did not get here by happenstance, and he’s not going to blow his opportunity to remain on top by making poor decisions. Tell yourself his music won’t last through the cruel inquisition of time. Tell yourself he has no talent, and that he’s an idiot on and off the stage. Reassure yourself that eventually he will be relegated to a laughing stock of history with his shallow songs and shortsighted goals.
I don’t expect Don Henley’s entire country record to sound this classic, but his take on the old Louvin Brothers standard with Dolly helping out was a welcomed treat that tells you this album isn’t going to be Don reaching for commercial relevance. It’s going to be Don making the country record he wants to make.
The most defining element to any great song or album is when the writer or singer is captured sharing something very personal with the audience. It could be something heart-wrenching, or it could be something happy. It could be a story, or a message, or something learned or realized. But either way, it has to be one human conveying something very personal to another.
Out there on the club and honky-tonk circuit are women with skins on the wall, proven talent, and built-in fan bases that go regularly overlooked as options to bring compelling female voices to the big leagues of country. One such artist is the Canadian-born Lindi Ortega, who has just released her latest album through Last Gang Records called ‘Faded Gloryville.’
Beset on all sides, lampooned regularly by popular media, bastardized by its own sons and daughters in the mainstream, sold out by corporations and their governmental cronies, America’s rural culture is under siege by the heartless and misguided march of time like never before. But traditional country artist Daryle Singletary is here to remind you there’s still a little country left…
Just like classic old country songs from the 60’s that still hold up today, Daniel has the insight to pinpoint a very specific emotional defect embedded in the human condition, and then create the favorable environment for that emotional frailty to be called to the forefront through poetic insight set to precisely-appropriate music.
The latest appetizer dangled out there by Curb is an acoustic version of a song called “I Met Merle Haggard Today.” Pretty self explanatory and plenty entertaining, it’s the true account of Mo meeting one of his country music heroes for the first time. It’s a simple little song, but it shows you that Mo’s commitment to authentic country music isn’t just a marketing angle.
Just 40 miles west of where Woody Guthrie was born in Okemah, Oklahoma is the town of Shawnee, where Ramseur Records-signed singer songwriter Samantha Crain was born and raised. And like Woody did many years before, she has decided to champion the causes of the common man through the music of her fourth LP.