There are only four females total in the current country radio Top 40, and one of them is former American Idol contestant Lauren Alaina. No matter what opinion one holds on Lauren Alaina’s “Road Less Traveled” song, to see a female not named Ballerini crack the Top 5 is a miracle in itself.
Once considered rockabilly by some since most of her music carries an old-school backbeat and 50’s styling, it’s probably more relevant now to call Sallie Ford just plain rock, yet with a decidedly strong bent towards vintage modes which allows it to slither right into the soundscape of all old souls looking for something more their speed than the present day noise.
For most artists, their careers start off by driving around in vans to club shows across the country, and if they’re lucky perhaps they graduate to a bus sometime down the road. Most artists start by making some noise in their home state, and then maybe hope to garner the attention of a national audience. For Sunny Sweeney, the arc has been nearly the opposite.
Valerie June is the kind of cool everybody wants to be. She started out as roots music’s own little special creature with her primitive country Gospel soul songs—an unearthed gem of Americana made that much more cherished because it was a personal discovery way before the general population caught on.
Before we even listen to a peep of the music from this new album from Josh Turner, it already serves as an incredible illustration of the sheer incompetence, and creative immorality that so often still grips elements of Nashville’s Music Row. But what of the music on ‘Deep South’ after the incessant delays leading up to this final, triumphant release?
As much as Marty Stuart is a student of country music, he’s also a teacher. And with a refreshing boldness, and frankly a little bit of guts from running the risk of being misunderstood by some of the fuddy duddy fans of traditional country, Marty Stuart encapsulates a critical time in country and all of American music when country music became cool.
Shinyribs is total ridiculousness, and only “country” in fleeting moments and by accident. This goes without saying, so save your comments about what Saving Country Music should and should not be discussing. It’s madness that Shinyribs has been taken in so lovingly and held close to the bosom by the Texas music scene as it has.
If you’re going to make a movie based in West Texas about the destruction of the agrarian economy and the way the banks rape the poor and why so much of the American heartland has turned into a ghost town husk of what it once was, what better way to embellish the moments than to include the songs of artists like Ray Wylie Hubbard, Scott H. Biram, & Colter Wall?
Aaron Watson is an optimist, and a pragmatist. And though a swath of independent and traditional country fans tend to find themselves generally turned off by these things—only identifying with country music that breaks the heart—Aaron Watson is adhering to the very first rule of independent and traditional country: be authentic to yourself.
For many of the best practitioners of country music, they don’t choose to pursue country music as a profession, country music chooses them. 2017 is still young, but the effort expended by Jaime Wyatt on ‘Felony Blues’ is impressive enough to be considered the best in the country realm so far.
“I’m a dirt road, in the headlights. I’m a mama’s boy, I’m a fist fight,” is how “Small Town Boy” starts off. What does this stuff even mean? It’s just nonsensical self-referential, self-ingratiating pap. There’s no point to it except identity politics tied to the demographic country radio is looking to serve, which is primarily people who don’t live on dirt roads.
‘Nothin’ Unexpected’ is traditional country, meaning you’ll hear fiddle and steel guitar, and many other indicators that your brain will immediately recognize as the familiar modes of country’s original and authentic sound. But it’s all done in a voice and perspective authentic to Ags himself instead of trying to stretch the truth, or do his best impression.
“I don’t even know you yet, but I know I love you,” Sweeney sings in such a specified honesty that its hard to handle, and hard to not believe. It’s lines like this that even if you do have kids, or find yourself on the opposite side of the gene pool from being able to bear children, you can still put yourself in those shoes.
Even taking into consideration the monstrosities from pop stars calling themselves country because they’d get their asses handed to them in pop like Sam Hunt and Chris Lane, “The Fighter” very well may be the most non-country “country” song released as a single in the history of the genre.
Andrew Combs utilizes inspired perspective, a keen falsetto, and strings indicative of the old Nashville Sound approach to production in the song “Dirty Rain” to not just decry gentrification and abandonment, but put a musical context to the feelings of nostalgia and remorse one feels when stricken by the realization of what once was will never ever be again.
Brantley Gilbert’s music may not be for you, but it’s hard to argue it’s not 100% him. He’s a roided-out, tatted-up, tribal Tap-Out truck-nutted horn-flashing Jesus-praising great American meat head who makes no apologies for himself and has built an entire army of fans that are just as hard headed and proud, and will follow Brantley over a bridge if asked.
You want to like Luke Combs. He one of us, not one of them. At least that’s what you think, or that’s what you thought, or that’s what you want to think. Let’s face it, he’s no matinee idol. He’s a big ol’ corn fed boy from North Carolina with a scruffy Amish beard and a cheap haircut tucked under a properly-aligned baseball cap.
I don’t blame Dave Simonett for wanting to take some time away from what has been his main gig for 15 years as the frontman of the bluegrass-esque Trampled By Turtles. As stellar of a collective of musicians as Trampled By Turtles is, at some point the experience of a string band is going to feel limiting to someone who is a songwriter first.
Zac Brown promised last September that the band would be bringing the music back to its roots, and he certainly delivers on that promise with Zac Brown Band’s latest single called “My Old Man.” But how we got here and why such a return to the roots is even possible or necessary is important context.
Apologies to any die hard Lady Antebellum fans out there, but I just don’t see the value of them coming back from their extended hiatus. From the beginning, Lady Antebellum has felt so forgettable, so superfluous, so fleeting of impact and falling short of any serious contribution to country music or popular music in general, would anybody really miss them if they never reunited?