Usually the themes of heartbreak in country music revolve around relationships, death, or perhaps the erosion of small town life or the family farm. But in the current environment in country, another type of heartbreak has emerged that is more intimately tied to the music itself.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a split decision. In a year when it feels like a criminal act to choose the best song over so many worthy contenders, even whittling it down to just two feels like a grave offense. But it is two songs that just can’t be denied this year, and it would be a discredit to the process chooing one over the other.
Saving Country Music unapologetically leans towards the independent and traditional side of country music. But that doesn’t mean the mainstream of country doesn’t get it right every so often. It’s important that we highlight those positive albums and artists too.
A Saving Country Music Song of the Year candidate is not just your favorite ditty that gets stuck in your head. These are songs that change hearts, change lives, rest in your head for years to come, open up new ideas, or unlock memories or emotions you haven’t felt in years.
In the humble estimation of Saving Country Music, 2018 has been the second bumper crop year in a row for excellent, top shelf efforts in country music. To reflect that, the number of nominees for Saving Country Music’s vaunted Album of the Year recognition has been pushed to its capacity of 10 once again.
American Aquarium, Blackberry Smoke, Caitlyn Smith, Cody Jinks, Colter Wall, Courtney Marie Andrews, Dillon Carmichael, El Coyote, Jamie Lin Wilson, Jason Eady, John Prine, Kacey Musgraves, Lori McKenna, MIke and the Moonpies, Pistol Annies, Randall King, Sarah Shook and the Disarmers, Tom Buller, Whitey Morgan and the 78's
Virtually everyone has been ignoring Caitlyn Smith’s record Starfire, and specifically her song “This Town Is Killing Me.” With almost no press, with absolutely no radio play, and very little attention via streaming playlists, “This Town Is Killing Me” has received well over 5 million plays on Spotify alone since its release.
These six songs are admittedly sad bastard fare if there ever was any, but that’s the way it goes when you’re looking for songs that don’t just entertain, but fulfill, or illuminate something important in life most catchy tunes fall short of.
As we move past the musical halfway pole for 2018, it’s time once again to look back in the rear-view mirror and see what has wowed us the most so far. Along with some excellent albums that will go on to be considered for some of the best all year, the spring of 2018 has also revealed itself as one of the busiest release periods for in years.
Meghan Trainor will be the latest pop star to jump on the single of a country artist according to reports. Metadata feeding through the music pipeline is pointing to country artist Brett Eldredge releasing the song “Haven’t Met You” from his 2017 self-titled record as his next single, with Meghan Trainor guesting on a new remix.
Man has it been a frenetic last few weeks with the amount of marquee album announcements we’ve had for 2018’s most anticipated records, along with some excellent songs unveiled ahead of the releases. There’s also been the actual release of a couple of stellar albums that may go on to be crowned some of the best in all of 2018.
Cody Jinks will release a new record in 2018. It will be named Lifers and it will be delivered in “no later than June.” And we also know it will be Cody Jinks, because that is who he is, and what he does. The other thing Cody Jinks has is a plan, and a fan base.
Journeywoman songwriter and closet singer/performer Caitlyn Smith just released perhaps the best country pop record to grace the roster of Music Row projects in a half a decade or more, and we should all be embarrassed and inconsolably incredulous it took so damn long for this voice and these songs to get their proper due.
Will 2018 be yet another banner year for independent country releases like 2017 was? We’ll have to see, but what we do know is what to expect in the release department for at least the first quarter of the year, while rumors abound about other projects that could come to light later in the year. Here’s a detailed run down.
Anderson East, Ashley Campbell, Brandi Carlile, Caitlyn Smith, Caleb Caudle, Courtney Patton, Dallas Moore, Dave Cobb, Dusty Rust, First Aid Kit, JD Wilkes, Laura Benitez, Mary Gauthier, Mike & The Moonpies, Red Shahan, Ruby Boots, Scotty McCreery, Ugly Valley Boys, Vivian Leva, Wade Bowen
Don’t think of Swimming Alone as a commercial release. Think of it as something Liz Rose made for herself and maybe a few close friends and family that you somehow got a copy of. It’s sweet, quirky, funny at times, delightfully dated, refreshingly honest, and just a simple joy to listen to.
They’ve decided to divide opening duties among a total of 26 separate openers across the 65 total tour dates, as opposed to taking the usual stance with openers, which is to drag the same two or three lightweight mainstream up-and-comers around with them for six months. Even more surprising are the names selected to open.
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’s a little hard to fathom that Chris Issak has never made a country record before. He combines the caramel singing and cool factor of Dwight Yoakam, the crooning capability of Raul Malo, and the lounge-like timelessness of Lyle Lovett into one smooth package that makes the felines swoon and the men hopping jealous. He’s a crooner whose styling cuts across all kinds of borders of taste and influence.
It’s not a lack of talent that Nashville suffers from. It’s figuring out how to shuffle the best talent to the front. Like another notable songwriter, Chris Stapleton—who paid his fair share of dues writing for others when he had a voice and a message that could resonate much deeper than what was rising in the mainstream, Caitlyn Smith is a relevant and powerful voice ready and warmed up in the batter’s box.
Independent music fans love to say “90% of what they play on the radio is crap!” Well then it would stand to reason that 10% actually has some value. And in the interest of pragmatism and inclusiveness that is vital to the charge of Saving Country Music, it is important to not ignore when Music Row and mainstream artists get it right, but to celebrate these moments.
Brett Eldredge, Bridges, Caitlyn Smith, Carrie Underwood, Dave Grohl, Dierks Bentley, Dirt, Eric Paslay, Everything To You, Florida Georgia Line, Garth Brooks, Jon Pardi, Kellie Pickler, Maddie & Tae, Man Against Machine, Mary Sarah, Riser, Something In The Water, The Grohl Sessions Vol. 1, The Mavericks, Tim McGraw, Zac Brown Band
The feud between country music Outlaw legend Waylon Jennings and country superstar Garth Brooks has been well-documented and talked about over the years. Though a lot of rumor and conjecture tend to cloud the conversation, we do know that Waylon’s dislike for Garth, who was coming up just as Waylon’s career was hitting a sharp decline, was very real.
The truth is, Garth was never going to live up to the lofty expectations many were foisting upon his re-entry into the country fold. Forget the naysayers who still can’t get over his high wire act at Texas Stadium or the Chris Gaines gimmick, there was some thought that Garth may be the only one left with the star power to reignite the spark of true country music in the mainstream once again.
When you talk about an artist known as a songwriter first, you tend to look for the strength in the lyric. But Caitliyn Smith is very much a multi-tool performer, and her vocals can rival any in country music’s top tier, and she’s a great musician as well. Mostly known by industry types as a songwriter whose pen to paper has resulted in some very memorable cuts.
This is where Garth Brooks could shake up the country music industry beyond simply packing sold-out stadiums. There are reams of amazing songs out there going unheard, and Garth is one of the very few people with the star power to take these songs and make them hits. And this rising tide could raise all boats, taking an artist like Caitlyn Smith to the greater notoriety her talents deserve.
Ashley Monroe, Austin Lucas, Bob DiPiero, Brandy Clark, Brantley Gilbert, Caitlyn Smith, Cassadee Pope, Country Throwdown, Dolly Parton, Garth Brooks, Jason Aldean, Kenny Regers, Lady Antebellum, Lee Brice, Nashville, T Bone Burnett, Tacoma, Willie Nelson