Uncaged, unhinged, and at times even inappropriate, Wrangled is Angaleena Presley making the record she wants to, be damned of the bridges left aflame and the apple carts upset. It is an unusual record, in both sound production and theme. But it also remains solidly country, Angaleena country, where no recess of the unsettled mind is off limits.
Canaan Smith, Cole Swindell, Chase Bryant, Chase Rice, Chris Lane, who are these clowns? It’s like one douchebag with many faces. Their songs, their styles, their personalities are indistinguishable and interchangeable. They might as well be the same person. Nashville’s overcrowded enough these days. Pick one of these guys and release all the music through them.
Old, forgotten memories get stirred to the forefront. Theories on life are recalled and reflected upon. And you don’t end up more happy like music is supposed to do, you end up a little sad and nostalgic, but in a way that’s strangely comforting in a manner simple happiness is incapable of delivering.
Jason Eady can do what they can do, but they can’t do what Jason Eady does, which is strip it all back and have the appeal for the music rest entirely on the written composition of a song. Even the most minimalist of performers have to rely a little bit on style, groove, or some sort of window dressing. But for Jason Eady, it’s like a type of Zen.
Sam Outlaw didn’t become one of the fastest-rising artists in independent country because of his name. He did it in spite of it. Everybody wants to hide behind layers of forced authenticity in country music these days, and bray about how country they are because of where they were born, or what kind of bad things they’ve done.
It may be a stretch to call My Own Way Aaron Vance’s “Outlaw” album, but he certainly uses it as his opportunity to tell Nashville, his fans, and maybe himself that he’s not changing for anything. He came to Music City to make country music, and that’s what he’s going to do. He’s not changing course, or shifting what the term “country” means just to make his way easier.
Music can be both a portal of escapism for the conformed, and a type of therapy for the ill-adjusted. People listen and play music to fit in, or to stand out. No matter the application, all people use music to help cope with being human. Some music helps more than other music with coping with the human condition.
The trouble with Trace Adkins has never been a lack of talent. The dude has one of the coolest, baritone and bass singing voices in all of modern country music. The bigger problem with the Trace Adkins career track has always been his terrible, terrible song selection. Perhaps Adkins would learn from his past mistakes, and start taking the music more seriously.
If for nothing else, give Thomas Rhett credit for this: He’s taken an incredibly average set of marginal skills and talent, and made himself into a bona fide arena-level superstar. That in itself takes a level of cunning that your ordinary citizen doesn’t posses. Music Row in Nashville has an implausible knack for making mediocrity seem exceptional.
Lindi Ortega is no stranger to the dark regions of the mind, or the mortality that hangs over all of us like an ever-present nightmare, just waiting to swoop down and become our fateful reality. As a student of the folk rituals surrounding Día de Muertos through her half-Mexican heritage, her funeral veil, her ghostly pale skin…
Well, this Tim McGraw/Faith Hill collaboration looked good on paper. And it still might result in some favorable and lasting contributions to country music. But “Speak To a Girl” feels a bit like a misfire, at least on the creative side. “Speak To a Girl” is not a bad song, but it does a lot of the little things wrong.
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.