So here Zac Brown goes again, making ‘The Comeback’ to his roots. You know, just like he did on ‘Welcome Home.’ At this point, you have every right to be sporting a neck brace and calling up a shady ambulance-chasing lawyer from the whiplash Zac Brown has given you.
The Royal Hounds are one of the bands who still embody that original Lower Broadway revivalist attitude. Playing standing residencies at Layla’s every Sunday night, and Robert’s Western World on Tuesdays, they’re rockabilly, they’re country, they’re wild and funny.
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The songs of Noel McKay, they’re like those one of a kind items, carefully crafted with their dovetailed joints and beveled edges, and proudly engraved with a maker’s mark. They’re well-loved, and presented to the world without commercial concern, and more for the memories they hold.
Cody Johnson is what mainstream country music in 2021 should be: country, but widely appealing and pragmatic, while being unafraid to make you think and feel a little too. Perhaps more than any other Cody Johnson record, Human: The Double Album feels organic.
What makes ‘Blue’ so cool is not just that it found success with old songs from such a young singer. It’s that old songs were made cool to a younger audience, while the older audience who felt abandoned by country music of the era found someone they could root for as well.
As soon as the fiddle melody hits your ears on the very first song “Dallas Lights,” you feel as at home as Joshua Ray Walker does under Big D’s truly splendid urban skyline. The next two songs “Three Strikes” and the well-written “Cowboy” are exactly what you want and expect…
Whether it’s from nature or nurture, to people predisposed to moody dispositions, the music of H. Self is like medicine, either from the way embracing the emotional pain is a way to feel alive in a numbing world, or by offering camaraderie through the shared commiseration.
In 2015, when Mickey Guyton released her debut single “Better Than You Left Me,” she symbolized hope in the mainstream of country music for a host of reasons. Similar to how we regard artists such as Lainey Wilson and Carly Pearce today, Mickey Guyton was a bright spot.
You know going into a new Billy Strings album that whatever it is you experience live will never be captured at the same caliber in a studio. But instead of trying to ensnare those surreal moments on a disc, Billy Strings and his cohorts must embrace the studio time as a separate medium.
Apparently, Carly Pearce did not get the memo. The script says that if you’re a mainstream country starlet that shows early promise in maintaining a little bit of country roots in your sound, as soon as you see some initial success, you’re supposed careen straight into full blown pop.
While others were thinking and scheming, Charley Crockett was out there doing. While some were complaining about closed doors and walled gardens, Charley Crockett was making his way over, under, and through. When people said it couldn’t be done, Charley Crockett did it.
‘Star-Crossed’ comes from the aftermath of Kacey’s marriage to fellow performer and songwriter Ruston Kelly. Said to be fashioned to unfold similar to a Greek tragedy in three acts, the album is tragic for sure, but strains to convey any entertainment value or valuable insight.
With great recording quality, excellent vocals and instrument separation, and just enough crowd noise to help put you in the room, “Ramble in Music City: The Lost Concert” is yet another excellent live addition to the already stellar lineup of live albums from Emmylou Harris.
“Signs and Wonders” is country, and old school rock ‘n roll. It’s music from a time when folks didn’t get hung up on labels, only if something was good or not. The challenge for a record like this is making it all feel seamless, and that’s what The Burner Band accomplishes.
It’s pretty rare that seven albums and 17 years into a career that an artist finds their stride, but that’s the determination many are coming to with Jon Wolfe’s ‘Dos Corazones,’ and for fair reasons. Inspired, passionate, well-written, and consistently enjoyable throughout.
It all begins with the voices of Chapel Hart. When they’re at their best, any song could be stripped back to an a capella arrangement and still shine. But it’s the diverse expressions they explore within the country genre that makes this record entertaining, with unexpected turns .
The listening room saying “Shut up and listen” was coined for guys like Jason Eady. It would be a cardinal sin to sully a performance from this sage of singer/songwriter country with something as meaningless as idle chatter. Jason Eady doesn’t deliver songs. He delivers sermons.
The son of Hank Williams Jr. has been kicking around the music industry for a few years now, dabbling with some traditional country stuff, then moving in a much more contemporary direction, but overall just seeming to be trying to find himself. Don’t expect a chip off the old block.
No matter what happens subsequently, Sturgill Simpson has left such an indelible mark on the legacy of country music, and music at large with his five album contribution over the last eight years (along with two bluegrass side projects), you can’t help but feel the need to tip you hat.
Garrett T. Capps is the city of San Antonio’s resident cosmic country gonzo honky tonk weirdo freak, and if you’re looking to unwind from, well, pretty much everything these days, cue this thing up and you’ll immediately be letting loose and losing your long face.
James McMurtry is old school. He knows how character and nuance is worth so much more than namby pamby bromides. He can evoke the dimension of location in a song like few others, rattling off meticulous observational details of specific towns and cities as good as Google.
Everyone recognizes what Sierra Ferrel has, and wants to be a part of it. It’s like Janis Joplin in the 60’s. A lioness. Sierra isn’t just a singer and songwriter. She’s a force of nature who melds gypsy jazz and mountain music into an alluring and intoxicating concoction.
What just a great little country record this is, with one solid song after another that’s well-written, well-performed, and delivered with heart. It proves that when it comes to actual country music, you don’t have to push the envelope or reinvent the wheel every time.
The single greatest band in country music at the moment has just released one of the single greatest records you will hear in country music in the last few years. And as much as you may assess this opinion as fandom overriding objectivity, or outright overwrought hyperbole…
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