In January of 2016, Saving Country Music published an article explaining how 2016 Could Be 1975 All Over Again in country music—how an upsurge in more traditional and substantive talent and music could really take hold in country, from the independent realm to the mainstream. And that is exactly what we’ve seen as 2016 has progressed.
With over 200 artists playing AmericanaFest this third week of September, it can be a little bit intimidating for the folks either looking to attend in person, or experience the gathering vicariously through various social channels and video streams. So here is a curated list of artists battle tested and approved by Saving Country Music.
AmericanaFest, Austin Lucas, Brent Cobb, Caitlyn Smith, Dori Freeman, Jason Eady, John Moreland, Lori McKenna, Luke Bell, Parker Millsap, Sammy Brue, Sarah Shook, Tami Neilson, The Secret Sisters, William Clark Green, Willie Watson
It takes more than a few really good songs to make a great album. David Nail’s ‘Fighter’ has some really good songs. I’d even be willing to go on the record saying it’s got some really great songs. But it also has some of the usual suspects of mainstream songwriting tropes that you have to sift through to get to those great songs.
If someone is apt to not pay attention to female artists, whether that’s a garden variety country fan or a major label executive, bunching female artists together is probably not going to garner their attention, it’s probably going to turn them off even more, especially if the premise of putting these artists together is an attempt to break through a gender bias.
Lori McKenna couldn’t have anticipated that her song “Humble and Kind,” recorded by Tim McGraw would become the first solo-written #1 song to top the country charts in four years right as she was getting ready to release an album produced by Dave Cobb—one of the hottest names in Nashville.
The next trend in country may not be defined by a style or a sound, but who is involved in it. But if collaborations will be the next big trend, how about putting out just a little bit of effort to make sure that the great talent that is going unrecognized in country music itself gets some love?
Ashley Monroe, Blake Shelton, Brad Paisley, Brandy Clark, Chris Stapleton, Demi Lovato, Dierks Bentley, Dolly Parton, Elle King, Gwen Stefani, Johnny Bush, Kenny Chesney, Kenny Rogers, Little Big Town, Lori McKenna, Miranda Lambert, Pharrell, Pink, Pitbull, Steve Fromholz, The Pistol Annies, Tim McGraw, Townes Van Zandt, Willie Nelson
Written solely by female songwriter Lori McKenna, “Humble and Kind” becomes the first #1 country song written by one person in more than four years. In this era when everything is written by a committee of three or more, and the expressions of female artists are generally stifled, this is quite the feat.
Tim McGraw is one of the last remaining artists who can release what he wants to radio, including music that actually says something and is fit for consumption by fully maturated adults, and it somehow finds not just a semblance of traction and acceptance, but downright success.
Little Big Town’s latest single called “Girl Crush” is stirring a little bit of controversy from what some perceive as racy, lesbian themes, while others are acting shocked that the song could be misconceived in such a way, making “Girl Crush” a country music battleground for conservative values being fought in the shadow of country music’s big coming out party lately.
This song from former The Voice contestant and now Valory Music-signed 20-year-old country music starlet Raelynn has been lurking out there for a while now, garnering tacit approval from the country music listening public and sitting down in the 30-something range in chart performance, while driving other listeners crazy for a host of reasons.