With his new album ‘Country Shade,’ John Baumann fortifies his spot in Texas music and beyond as a songwriter. Sure, there’s a lot of artists who write songs in Texas music. But with John Baumann, writing songs is the singular and pure pursuit—to find the perfect sentiment, to put a notion to rhyme.
Texas country singer and songwriter Zane Williams already had a steady gig as a revered and supported artist in the scene for years, releasing seven records, touring extensively throughout the region. So why go off and start a band with as ambiguous of a name as “Hill Country” to hide yourself in?
This time around Steve Earle’s charge is somewhat unusual. Instead of simply putting together a new album of original songs or re-recording someone else’s, Earle was conscripted to assemble the soundtrack for a play called Coal Country that ran at New York’s Public Theater earlier this year.
“Neon Cross” once again captures Jaime Wyatt leaning on honesty, and exhibiting a fearlessness of expression despite her shy disposition to reveal her most bruised emotions and recollections in song as an enraptured audience soaks it all in.
Recently reissued by Bloodshot Records on vinyl for the first time, ‘Seven’ is Sarah’s slightly nascent, but surprisingly powerful and well-performed prototype for what would blossom into one of the most compelling underground talents of our time. For thirsty ears looking for more of her unique approach, ‘Seven’ is very welcome.
The United States is a popular and polarizing subject in music right now to say the least. But Reckless Kelley isn’t really looking to dive directly into that whole fracas with their new double record “American Jackpot/American Girls,” despite what you may glean from the title and cover art.
In an era when it seems like most every single piece of “country” music must come with some sort of prefix, suffix, or other qualifier or explanation attached to it, Tessy Lou Williams and this debut album is like the answer to all prayers, the fulfilling of all requests, auspiciously plugging a gaping hole in the country music environment.
No matter how many years you have to count back to when Kenny Chesney was the top male performer in modern country, he is still the man at the top of the heap when it comes to touring. Aside from Garth Brooks, Kenny Chesney is only the guy who can consistently fill stadiums with his huge fan base known as “No Shoes Nation.”
Caitlin Cannon’s trash is the audience’s treasure trove of country and rockabilly pleasure that will have you first in stitches, then later sobbing with empathy, and then recycling the experience over and over again as you can’t get enough. Whether you’re looking for steel guitar-soaked tearjerkers, or the whip-cracking attitude of Bettie Page.
Not your standard and cliche-riddled country protest song, this more thoughtful, reflective, and hushed effort bemoans the passing away of important things in life—country music included—to the onslaught of progress and noise, while resisting the new favorite Americana pastime of laying blame.
It’s within a contentious environment that Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit deliver ‘Reunions’ to what will be thunderous and virtual universal applause from critics, while many conservative country fans will write him off without a fair listen. But like most things in politics and life, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
You can’t get 30 seconds into this new record from T.J. Hernandez without being convinced you’ve landed in the right place. The voice is somewhere between Cody Jinks and Jamey Johnson. The music is pure uncut country. The production is just about perfect. And the songs hit the spot. It’s a traditional country oasis.
Hold My Beer Vol. 2 is like a love letter to classic country from a Texas perspective. In many respects, it’s a country music album about country music. Along the way though, Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen don’t forget to have some fun. After all, that’s the underlying reason for this project.
If your trek led you to North Carolina and the moonshining swamps of Johnston County, and you rooted around in the honky tonks or queried the locals where to turn for the best country music from the region, Jonathan Park is probably who would be the leading vote getter.
Teeming with Shooter Jennings as producer, B.J. and American Aquarium capture ‘Lamentations’ as a postscript to the broken American Dream, sent through the filter of a Southern perspective, and stamped into 10 songs that are sure to compel your consideration.
The fear when we heard that the Dixie Chicks had employed producer Jack Antonoff for their first record in 14 years was that instead of hearing the acoustic instrumentation that made the Dixie Chicks so vital in the late 90’s, we’d get the three women huddled around Antonoff’s laptop staring intently at pixels on a screen.
Stuff a sock down your pants, unearth your razor shades, bust out the acid wash, and get ready to party like it’s 1989 because what started as a cover band stage gag back in 2015 has now become a full-blown major label release with original songs and radio single. It’s called Hot Country Knights.
A honky tonk sweetheart and certified heartbreaker originally from Canada, for the second record in a row, Whitney Rose has eased off her original traditional country sound that pegged the honky tonk meter at “10” to add a little more old school rock ‘n roll flavor and fervor to her music.
The first solo effort from Pam Tillis in some 12 years deserves the serious attention of a true comeback record. It finds the 62-year-old and Grand Ole Opry member looking for a spark of inspiration, and finding it in reigniting her zest for music by adding a splash of soul and classic rock to the country mix.
It’s Maddie & Tae’s 15-song foray into the various stages of love and relationships, from the heartbreaking to the euphoric, to everything in between. And it comes at a time when arguably one of the greatest songs of the set called “Die From A Broken Heart” is finally finding traction in the radio charts.
You know you’ve stumbled upon a great songwriter when the music gets in the way. You know you’ve stumbled upon an even better one when they don’t allow it to. You know you have something special when no matter what style or instrumentation brought to a song, it still doesn’t feel like it does it justice.
Bringing the grit and guts of grassroots influences from his hometown of Owensboro, Kentucky, and a blurred lines approach between country and rock akin to what most are used to hearing from Texas music or Red Dirt, Andy Brasher takes some new songs and some old favorites, and folds them into a new record called “Myna Bird.”
What a great little late career record this is. With all the death and sadness country music has been suffering from lately, it feels so good to get something special from a guy you remember fondly from the past, who proves he still has plenty to offer in the present. You don’t need to rely on weepy-eyed reflection or nostalgia to get into this record.
“Vintage” is the only way to fairly catalog this self-titled release, with the influences of classic country, traditional pop, mod, and even a little early psychedelia appearing throughout these eleven tracks. If you’re thinking country, think more of Jim Reeves or early George Jones, and less Waylon Jennings. Think The Byrds meet Nashville.