Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye. By the power vested in me by the vaunted crest of the Saving Country Music emblem with its outstretched wings and crossed fiddles, I unilaterally declare that August 25th in the Year of Our Ford 2023 will be officially recognized as a country music holiday, with all right and privileges thereof bestowed to anyone who considers themselves a country music fan.
Feel free to use this pronouncement as legal tender for playing hookie from work or school, forgoing daily chores, or shirking familial obligations. But please note, Saving Country Music is not responsible for any ramifications for such actions, and as always, everyone is encouraged to continue to demonstrate good hygiene.
What’s the occasion? August 25th has an inordinate amount of important releases happening in country music. And to make sure you don’t miss out on something you may love, you can find a complete run down below.
Turnpike Troubadours – A Cat in the Rain
It’s hard to not descend into obsequious and slobbery hyperbole when slathering praise upon what the Turnpike Troubadours have done since returning from their hiatus, and to call A Cat in the Rain “anticipated” after nearly six years since a new studio album feels like a gross understatement. The release of this album is cause enough to rearrange your plans for August 25th and take the long way home with this thing on repeat.
“First album back we decided we wanted to do some shows together after we took a coupe of years off there. And so we started writing songs and putting some stuff together, and Shooter Jennings came on,” frontman Evan Felker says. “We’re mutual fans of each other, and he came on to produce for us, and it turned out to be a really great experience, and I think a really good record.”
Posey Hill – No Clear Place to Fall
When Zach Bryan announced he would be releasing his new album the same day as the Turnpike Troubadours, many were worried the Turnpike title would be buried. In truth, this big release day has the opportunity to shine a greater light on both projects. If there’s any projects people should be worried about flying under the radar, it’s releases from like this one from Posey Hill that deserves your undivided attention.
From Arkansas, sisters Kristian Miller, Erin Wisniewski and Megan Burnett put their heart and soul into No Clear Place To Fall recorded at Doghouse Studio in Nashville. All the stops were pulled out for this one, and though you’ve probably never heard of this sister trio before, a spin through early singles like “Keeping Tyler” (about Tyler Childers) or the reverse murder ballad “Box of Pine” prove why this is a project that should not be overlooked.
Zach Bryan – Self-Titled
To be released by Zach Bryan’s Belting Bronco Records distributed by Warner, the self-titled album will feature 16 songs, including collaborations with fast-rising West Virginia artist Sierra Ferrell, country soul duo The War & Treaty, along with Kacey Musgraves and The Lumineers. Zach Bryan wrote and produced the album all by himself. Needless to say, it will be one of the most important and anticipated albums in country music in 2023.
With 16 tracks, the new Zach Bryan album will compete for the top spot on the country albums charts, but it won’t have the benefit of pre-orders. Physical product is still up in the air, including vinyl. In typical Zach Bryan DIY fashion, he’s trying to get the album out ASAP, and not waiting on the suits to get everything in order. “Really proud to call the writing and production on somethin’ all mine,” Zach Bryan says. “Thank y’all for your patience, I didn’t make this album to appease people who will never be happy anyways, I made it for my people.” (read more)
Morgan Wade – Psychopath
When Morgan Wade first appeared on the independent country scene, she had us all really excited. Here was an authentic songwriter from Floyd, Virginia playing earnest songs acoustically that could fill the void of women at the top of the independent country insurgency. She was the female version of Tyler Childers, we all surmised.
But when her debut album Reckless came out, it wasn’t exactly that. There were more rock and pop moments than what we had expected. It still went onto to be very well-received, and find a wide and appreciative audience, even if that audience only rubbed elbows with independent country as opposed to hitting the bulls-eye.
Maybe the problem wasn’t Morgan Wade though. Maybe it was the expectations we had impressed upon her. Now as a major label artist and a large concert draw, Wade is becoming that female headliner we were looking for as she readies her new album once again produced by Sadler Vaden, even if it’s not exclusively of the independent country world. (read more)
Old Crow Medicine Show – Jubilee
Celebrating 25 years as a band (feel old yet?) and touted as a companion album to their last release Paint This Town, Jubilee features guest appearances by Mavis Staples, Sierra Ferrell, and band co-founder Willie Watson, who records with the band for the first time in over 10 years. The album was co-produced by the band with Matt Ross-Spang.
“In a lot of people’s minds folk music seems to be relegated to a place of supposed purity, but we’ve always wanted our folk music to be the soundtrack to real living rather than something stuck behind the glass in a museum,” says frontman Ketch Secor. “We’d much prefer to smash that glass and take those instruments back to the street corners, maybe break some strings and bleed on them a bit. To us music works best when you sing it loud and hard and lusty until your throat gets sore—it’s meant to hurt when it comes out right.”
The Waymores – Greener Pastures
Married traditional country performing duo Kira Annalise and Willie Neal received the opportunity of a lifetime to work with legendary producer Shel Talmy, known for his work with The Who and The Kinks. What started out to be a two-song project with the couple traveling from Atlanta to L.A. to work with Talmy turned into a full-blown album after the initial sessions went off so well.
“We walked through the studio door to the players already setting up and shuffling around. In a room full of talent that was well deserving of ego, we found nothing but welcome arms and got right to work,” says Willie Neal. The results are Greener Pastures from the indie record label Chicken Ranch Records out of Austin, Texas. The Waymores get around, playing around 150-200 live shows a year.
Hiss Golden Messenger – Jump For Joy
Originating from Durham, North Carolina, Hiss Golden Messenger and frontman MC Taylor have definitely spent time dabbling in country rock and alt-country during the band’s 15-year tenure, though most recently their sound has stayed more grounded in what is more apt to call indie folk. Either way, it’s not uncommon to see them on you favorite festival lineups or as inspirations to some of your other favorite bands, if they haven’t found a favorable spot in your playlist directly.
Jump For Joy is said to be a semi-autobiographical work about the life and musical journey of bandleader MC Taylor who created the character Michael Crow to represent himself through his various experiences while following the path of a life in music. From being obsessed with music at the very beginning, to being called by the road, to almost giving up, to having a family, right up to the present day, Taylor touches on many of the moments that shaped him.
Amanda Donald – 100 Roots
A multi-instrumentalist from Mobile, Alabama, Amanda Donald also dabbles in multiple traditional genres, and does so with authority, moving between traditional country, bluegrass, and some folk in her new album 100 Roots. Donald not only wrote and produced the entire album herself, she also played all of the fiddle, mandolin, and acoustic guitar. This is one of those great little albums that shouldn’t get overlooked on a busy release day.
“Donald’s superb musicianship paired with her songwriting and vocal abilities deems her to be the total package. Donald arranges beautiful acoustic instrumentation with sensational lines that elicit familiar feelings of the joy and pain associated with everyday life experiences.”
The Two Tracks – It’s a Complicated Life
Julie and Dave Huebner, Fernando Serna, and Taylor Phillips from Sheridan, Wyoming craft an Americana version of Western music. Their new album It’s a Complicated Life was recorded at at The Tractor Shed in Goodlettsville, TN, and produced by the legendary Will Kimbrough. Kimbrough also performs on the album playing guitar and other instruments.
“The band cares about lyrics, story, and the power of the song, and every arrangement is designed to fully highlight that direct connection between the song and the listener. Hailing from the eastern side of the Bighorn Mountains in Wyoming, the band has traversed the country bringing their joyful, unique sound to stages big and small.”
Roselit Bone – Ofrenda (Progressive 8-piece Western band from Portland)
The Kennedys – Headwinds (Veteran folk rock duo)
Various Artists – Gaither Tribute, Honoring the Songs of Bill & Gloria Gaither (Gospel tribute)
The Listening Party – Been A Long Time Coming (folk rock)
Steve Yanek – September (’70s rock-inspired Americana)
Tim McGraw – Standing Room Only