“There are the songs of Lori McKenna, and then there are the songs of everyone else in country music. Lori McKenna songs should constitute their own subgenre in the way she’s so deftly captures feelings and sentiments…”
Lets not overlook that a bunch of very cool and important artists all announced new albums this week in a cavalcade of titlesthat shouldn’t be allowed to slide under your radar.
Love him, hate him, find yourself among the population of the very few who feel indifferent about him, Morgan Wallen is the biggest thing in mainstream country, and at this point, by such multiples of scale, it truly is difficult to comprehend. We’re talking Garth-level, generational, genre-defying popularity.
We’ve seen the hit TV show series Yellowstone help wing a dozen or so worthy independent country artists into the stratosphere through the show’s soundtrack. Now we’re seeing a reversal of roles as one of the primary cast members of Yellowstone has just signed a major label record deal.
The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame announced their 2022 class last week, with Shania Twain, Steve Wariner, Hillary Lindsey, Gary Nicholson, and David Malloy all being named 2022 inductees. With Shania leading the way, this is the first time since 2009 that the Nashville institution has picked two women.
Deluxe editions of albums are often repositories for whatever might have been left on the cutting house floor after the original track list was finalized. But with Hailey Whitters’ ‘Living The Dream (Deluxe Edition),’ it’s so much more.
Remember, it’s just the ACM Awards. Less prestigious than the CMAs, and more susceptible to bloc voting and other dubious practices than most any other awards apparatus in country music and beyond, think of it more as a performative infomercial for the mainstream of country music.
Lori McKenna is a hit country songwriter and a heralded Americana performer, and whenever a new song emerges with her name on it, you’re smart to take a pause from whatever trifle you’re busy with, and listen. This will be music for adults, by adults.
‘Wildcard’ is just that—a spin of the wheel and a roll of the dice, because you just don’t know what you’re gonna get dealt when you cue up the next track. But there’s too much good stuff here to cast it off as just another mainstream country pop record. You have to be willing to dig a little. But it’s ultimately worth the patience and effort.
Miranda Lambert’s latest album will be called “Wildcard.” Along with the album release date and artwork, we also get to see track list and songwriting collaborators Miranda Lambert worked with on the album. A regular champion of quality songwriters, ‘Wildcard’ will be no different, even if the sound and approach is.
Miranda Lambert is back with a big new single called “It All Comes Out in the Wash” ahead of a new album out this fall, and the big question on a lot of people’s minds once the single was released was if radio would play it. But “It All Comes Out in the Wash” makes its entrance with its first week on radio like it was shot out of a canon.
When you hear certain albums from some of country music’s mainstream performers, it’s patently clear to large portions of the audience that these albums aren’t pop country, they’re just pop, period. But in the pop world when artist dabble in country influences, they tend to be more honest about how the end result is still pop.
Reba McEntire has a new album coming out on April 7th called ‘Stronger Than The Truth,’ and she’s promising fans that it will be the most country record she’s done in a long time, if not in her career. That says a lot considering just how country many of Reba McEntire’s earlier albums were.
How many times can you remake the same movie and it still be good? If it’s a classic story told with passion, is well-acted and directed, and expertly updated for the modern context, the answer would be at least four. “A Star Is Born” is a big moment for Americana music.
A new version of the feature film A Star Is Born is on the way starring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, and a host of notable names from the the cool side of country music are included in the movie and soundtrack. But the most surprising takeaway from the track list is the very active participation of Lukas Nelson.
“What Whiskey Does” is a return of Randy Houser to his more original form, and for the better. This is the Randy Houser who had built a fan base who would back bite you when you mentioned Randy’s participation in “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” or other offenses, and assure you he was true country.
If there’s any hope for the future of mainstream country music, it lies in songwriters like Lori McKenna. Whenever you see a quality song from a major label country artist, it’s uncanny how often Lori McKenna’s name comes up in the songwriting credits. True country fans know that if you want to find the best music, you have to go straight to the source.
Carrie Underwood and songs like “Cry Pretty” will never be the cup of tea of many of country music’s more traditional fans. But it’s a far cry from the terrible pursuits of the Bro-Country era that now feel far in the past, and are quickly being replaced by a regime of more expressive, heartfelt, and enriching songs closer akin to country’s roots.
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?
Luke Bryan did not get here by happenstance, and he’s not going to blow his opportunity to remain on top by making poor decisions. Tell yourself his music won’t last through the cruel inquisition of time. Tell yourself he has no talent, and that he’s an idiot on and off the stage. Reassure yourself that eventually he will be relegated to a laughing stock of history with his shallow songs and shortsighted goals.
Little Big Town’s latest single called “Girl Crush” is stirring a little bit of controversy from what some perceive as racy, lesbian themes, while others are acting shocked that the song could be misconceived in such a way, making “Girl Crush” a country music battleground for conservative values being fought in the shadow of country music’s big coming out party lately.
Told from the perspective of a young girl facing the emotional toll rendered from listening to mommy and daddy fighting, “Little Toy Guns” puts the listener in a place most any human from an American family has found themselves in, yet we seem to be unable to extricate ourselves from replicating this same foolish and unfortunate behavior with our own families as adults.