With his new album ‘Country Shade,’ John Baumann fortifies his spot in Texas music and beyond as a songwriter. Sure, there’s a lot of artists who write songs in Texas music. But with John Baumann, writing songs is the singular and pure pursuit—to find the perfect sentiment, to put a notion to rhyme.
Texas country singer and songwriter Zane Williams already had a steady gig as a revered and supported artist in the scene for years, releasing seven records, touring extensively throughout the region. So why go off and start a band with as ambiguous of a name as “Hill Country” to hide yourself in?
This time around Steve Earle’s charge is somewhat unusual. Instead of simply putting together a new album of original songs or re-recording someone else’s, Earle was conscripted to assemble the soundtrack for a play called Coal Country that ran at New York’s Public Theater earlier this year.
Combining a little wacka-do Roger Miller-style vocal noodling, curious and entertaining phrasing with unexpected turns, and writing that fits the whimsical nature of the composition, “River of Fools” is rendered quite enjoyable. Logan can master these classic country modes when turned loose on them.
“Neon Cross” once again captures Jaime Wyatt leaning on honesty, and exhibiting a fearlessness of expression despite her shy disposition to reveal her most bruised emotions and recollections in song as an enraptured audience soaks it all in.
Mike Harmeier, Caitlin Rutherford, Kyle Ponder, Zach Moulton, and the incomparable Omar Oyoque. Mike and the Moonpies as they’re know collectively. Also known as the greatest country music band in the world at the moment — Gary Stewart. The King of the Honky Tonks.
Recently reissued by Bloodshot Records on vinyl for the first time, ‘Seven’ is Sarah’s slightly nascent, but surprisingly powerful and well-performed prototype for what would blossom into one of the most compelling underground talents of our time. For thirsty ears looking for more of her unique approach, ‘Seven’ is very welcome.
Keeping up with all the releases in the country and roots realm is hard enough. COVID-19 has made it even more difficult with numerous delays and postponements on big titles, along with many artists waiting to announce their new records with all the uncertainty in the marketplace. But there are still many important records coming up in 2020.
The United States is a popular and polarizing subject in music right now to say the least. But Reckless Kelley isn’t really looking to dive directly into that whole fracas with their new double record “American Jackpot/American Girls,” despite what you may glean from the title and cover art.
“Watch The World Die” is just as much as a love story as it is anything, while Cody’s signature sound of loud, heavy, thunderous country music instrumentation makes for a worthy presentation for a song about the Apocalypse. Cody’s also hinting at a new live album on the way.
In an era when it seems like most every single piece of “country” music must come with some sort of prefix, suffix, or other qualifier or explanation attached to it, Tessy Lou Williams and this debut album is like the answer to all prayers, the fulfilling of all requests, auspiciously plugging a gaping hole in the country music environment.
No matter how many years you have to count back to when Kenny Chesney was the top male performer in modern country, he is still the man at the top of the heap when it comes to touring. Aside from Garth Brooks, Kenny Chesney is only the guy who can consistently fill stadiums with his huge fan base known as “No Shoes Nation.”
Caitlin Cannon’s trash is the audience’s treasure trove of country and rockabilly pleasure that will have you first in stitches, then later sobbing with empathy, and then recycling the experience over and over again as you can’t get enough. Whether you’re looking for steel guitar-soaked tearjerkers, or the whip-cracking attitude of Bettie Page.
Not your standard and cliche-riddled country protest song, this more thoughtful, reflective, and hushed effort bemoans the passing away of important things in life—country music included—to the onslaught of progress and noise, while resisting the new favorite Americana pastime of laying blame.
It’s within a contentious environment that Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit deliver ‘Reunions’ to what will be thunderous and virtual universal applause from critics, while many conservative country fans will write him off without a fair listen. But like most things in politics and life, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
You can’t get 30 seconds into this new record from T.J. Hernandez without being convinced you’ve landed in the right place. The voice is somewhere between Cody Jinks and Jamey Johnson. The music is pure uncut country. The production is just about perfect. And the songs hit the spot. It’s a traditional country oasis.
Just as stunning in the strokes of writing as the first one, Elisabeth removes any thought that Zach Bryan was a lucky, one shot anomaly. Lightning has struck twice, and now you have to assign the attribute of “prolific” to the list of other plaudits to lump upon Zach Bryan.
The career trajectory of Tim McGraw over the past few years has been somewhere between confounding and nauseating. when he moved to Sony Music Nashville to facilitate being able to record and tour with his wife Faith Hill, it was one misstep in his solo career after another. But now he appears to be back on track.
Hold My Beer Vol. 2 is like a love letter to classic country from a Texas perspective. In many respects, it’s a country music album about country music. Along the way though, Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen don’t forget to have some fun. After all, that’s the underlying reason for this project.
A blazing tune of bootleg, intrigue, and power, it lives up to Kyle Nix’s promise that storytelling will be the centerpiece of his debut album, while the brazen and galloping tempo reminds one of Turnpike’s “Before The Devil Knows We’re Dead,” partly due to members of the Turnpike Troubadours itself being behind the effort.
If your trek led you to North Carolina and the moonshining swamps of Johnston County, and you rooted around in the honky tonks or queried the locals where to turn for the best country music from the region, Jonathan Park is probably who would be the leading vote getter.
Teeming with Shooter Jennings as producer, B.J. and American Aquarium capture ‘Lamentations’ as a postscript to the broken American Dream, sent through the filter of a Southern perspective, and stamped into 10 songs that are sure to compel your consideration.
The fear when we heard that the Dixie Chicks had employed producer Jack Antonoff for their first record in 14 years was that instead of hearing the acoustic instrumentation that made the Dixie Chicks so vital in the late 90’s, we’d get the three women huddled around Antonoff’s laptop staring intently at pixels on a screen.
Stuff a sock down your pants, unearth your razor shades, bust out the acid wash, and get ready to party like it’s 1989 because what started as a cover band stage gag back in 2015 has now become a full-blown major label release with original songs and radio single. It’s called Hot Country Knights.