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.
Miranda Lambert will release her latest single, and the 4th from her current album The Weight of These Wings when “Keeper of the Flame” gets shipped to radio April 11th. Likely targeted for a single from the album originally, it first appeared a few weeks ahead of The Weight of These Wings as a teaser track.
You may not be into attending big arena shows, but it’s hard to not be happy for the big opportunity being bestowed to the Turnpike Troubadours, Southern rock revivalists The Steel Woods, high caliber songwriter Natalie Hemby, and Tenille Townes who have all been tapped as openers on Miranda Lambert’s “Bandwagon Tour.”
Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton, and Jason Isbell comprise the current Mt. Rushmore of independent country and roots music, and that is unquestionable, regardless of how you may feel about any one of them specifically, or even as a group. But what is the fourth mug we can put on top of that mountain?
When you think of the modern country music landscape, you think of a clear delineation line between the independent and mainstream. However the songwriting credits for Miranda Lambert are the one clear exception. Looking through her list of collaborators, it’s pretty incredible.
Adam Hood, Allison Moorer, Anderson East, Angaleena Presley, Ashley Monroe, Audra Mae, Brandy Clark, Carlene Carter, Chris Stapleton, David Rawlings, Fred Eaglesmith, Gillian Welch, Jack Ingram, John Prine, Julie Miller, Miranda Lambert, Natalie Hemby, Patty Griffin, Priscilla Renea, Shake Russell, Steve Earle, Susanna Clark, The Pistol Annies, Tom T. Hall, Traivs Howard, Waylon Payne
When we broach the exercise of whittling down the field of songs of a given year to a list of a chosen few to be considered Song of the Year, we’re not looking for booty shakers or boot scooters. We’re looking for those songs that through the power of words and music, hit you so deeply, you’re a different person after you’re done listening.
Apologies if you came here looking to replenish your 3rd generation iPod with a fresh platoon of booty shakers. That’s not what this practice is all about. Feel good songs are just fine and help fleet us through the tiresome days, but when we talk about the “Best Songs,” were talking about songs that deliver moments that can change entire lives.
It’s the charge of country and folk musicians to sing about the struggles of the common people that often go woefully unheralded by the rest of popular culture. But sometimes it’s not just people, but places that deserve the dignity of poetic adulation.
Based out of Brooklyn, The Brother Brothers is the closest thing you can find to Simon & Garfunkel in this century, yet with a primitive country sound. Incredible singing, some of the sweetest fiddle playing and cello accompaniment I’ve heard, and songs that are amazing in their simplicity, and their ability to put rhyme and reason to complex human emotions.
Adam Moss, Ana Egge, Cactus Blossoms, Church Sisters, David Moss, Natalie Hemby, Session Americana, The Blue Hit, The Brother Brothers, The Defibulators, The Malpass Brothers, The Quebe Sisters, The Secret Sisters, Tugboat
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.
She didn’t choose the title Puxico for the way it popped for focus group audiences. It’s the name of her less than 1,000 population hometown in southeastern Missouri that sets the scene for an album that feels devoutly personal, humble in approach, and eager to express things a professional songwriter just can’t with total fulfillment through the voices of others.
All across the fruited plain of America and beyond there are thousands and thousands of people that when they hear a modern country song, they shudder and wonder just what the hell has happened to the music they once loved; the music their parents and grandparents listened to. You know, REAL country music . . . like Justin Moore . . . they tell themselves.
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.
The distinctive, woody tone of a small-bodied, nylon string guitar draws you into a new single from country music powerhouse Miranda Lambert—presumably the first song from the much-anticipated new album, creating a heightened interest around the offering than would regularly greet a new single. It is somewhat safe country pop, but the sentimentality it is able to evoke is very real.