Songwriter Will Hoge has spend his career canonizing the common man and singing about his struggles, becoming sort of a more thoughtful, alt-country version of Mellencamp with music that carries the tone and meter of Heartland rock. But with his most recent album, Will Hoge leaves all nuance and allegory behind.
If artists such as Luke Bell and Pat Reedy suit your fancy, Nick Shoulders will slide right into your wheelhouse. But where these artists perhaps own a deeper arsenal of original songs at the moment, Nick Shoulders distinguishes himself by possessing an incredible, world-class high voice and yodel the likes of which we’ve rarely heard.
Jason Isbell has ascended to being considered the King of Americana by making all of the right moves at the right time. Isbell’s Ryman Auditorium residencies over the last few years have become a thing of legend all to themselves. But the simple truth is that ‘Live From The Ryman’ is a rare misstep by Isbell and his crew.
On the Pistol Annies’ third record and their first in a long while, you will find the songs you would expect from the supertrio. But beneath the Southern female glitz and unruly frivolity on the surface of the Pistol Annies’ persona is perhaps the trio’s most involved work.
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.
It’s not exclusively the music from our favorite artists that inspires us. It’s how they’re gifted with the tenacity to pursue their dreams fearlessly, and with a willingness to sacrifice we all wish we had, or maybe we did have at one time before life got in the way. But they don’t let life get in the way. They get in the way of life.
It’s not just the words, but the music of Carson McHone’s Carousel that help create an audio illustration of this emotional battlefield that it’s haunting at times in how well it mirrors our own experiences. This is her opportunity to slip out of the “velvet handcuffs” of Austin. “Carousel” is worthy of that charge.
William Michael Morgan has sent us selling our stock, and then buying it all back again just in a matter of a couple of weeks. The first taste from his upcoming and unannounced sophomore record was a song called “Tonight Girl.” And then here comes “Brokenhearted.”
Screw it all. You want to save country music? Put it on the back of the Buick City Badass Whitey Morgan along with his backing band The 78’s, and let them carry the whole damn genre. Whitey Morgan is like the embodiment of all the rage and frustration of true country music fans channeled into one hairy human vessel.
We’re not talking honky tonk country by close approximations and burdened with qualifiers. Dillon Carmichael is the pure, unadulterated, 100 proof version of country. If the term was still cool, you would call it “Outlaw.” This record is nothing short of merciless in how it grinds out one deeply-powerful plodding track after another.
There’s plenty of mainstream country stars right now braying about the virtues of 90’s country in radio singles, but Maddie & Tae are the only ones actually singing and writing stuff even closely resembling it. Like all good country songs, “Die From A Broken Heart” would fit well in most any era.
Identical twins Adam and David Moss have done something that is not just remarkable in roots music, but in modern music in all its incarnations. They have re-connected with that original magic that compels you to stop, take a deep breath, shove everything else to the side, and truly give yourself to a listening experience.
If you’re looking for a little levity amid a world gone mad, and music served with a surprising bit of twang, the latest release from long-standing alt-country stalwarts The Bottle Rockets will do you good. Called Bit Logic and brought to you by the fine folks at Bloodshot Records, they put the “country” in front of the “alt” on this one.
Tom Buller opens his mouth, and you’re immediately transported back to the Golden Era of country music, whichever era you choose the ‘Golden’ one to be. Where has true country music gone, you ask? It’s gone right down the gullet of Tom Buller, and comes back out in the form of one of the purest country voices you’ll hear.
Without an ounce of hyperbole, one can decree Colter Wall’s voice as a one-in-a-million phenomenon among humankind, and find very little resistance to that pronouncement. Yet the most remarkable thing about his voice is that he’s chosen to employ it in the service of keeping the most primitive forms of roots music alive.
Enough trying to settle for the latest Eric Church record simply because it’s better than most of the stuff in the mainstream, or squinting at Luke Combs and trying to make him the second coming of Waylon. You’re in the mood for a honky tonk fix? Quit throwing darts at the Billboard charts, and pick up the latest from JP Harris.
There is a war going on for control of Eric Church’s soul. It’s similar to the war that persists in the hearts and minds of most every mainstream country music artist. But for Eric Church, the war is different. It’s more pronounced, and has been playing out through the span of his career.
The name Dustin Lynch is quickly becoming a direct match synonym for derivative bottom shelf white boy culturally appropriating pseudo rap R&B bullshit. Don’t let the cowboy hat and rugged jawline fool you. This guy’s like the Wyle E. Coyote from Looney Tunes, dressed to blend in with the rest of country music….
Whether it’s crying over bills at the kitchen table, pondering the impact of an absent father, or fearing that life itself is nothing more than a slow process of death, Murray at times is merciless in her effort to make you feel the pain of personal and fictional stories that feel all too patently real to yourself as they hit the ear.
James Steinle’s debut album ‘South Texas Homecoming’ is a songwriter’s record driven home at times with a hard country backbone. Finely-crafted, erudite, and thought-provoking in moments, and then bouncy and playful when it needs to be, it touches plenty of erogenous zones on the country music palette.
Who are the mysterious Stryker Brothers? And are we to believe the elaborate back story about a couple of singing brothers named Coal and Flynt from the 70’s who hobnobbed with the Texas Outlaws of the era & other country music royalty, only to die in a prison fire & have tapes of their music discovered after all of these years?
As real as the sharp curves of mountain roads and the abandoned shucks of coal towns, John R. Miller weaves his stories of struggle and survival with a poetic wit, honesty and abandon, and a palpable authenticity. These are songs so tucked away up a holler, to find them you have to creep past No Trespassing signs.
Just the name “Shooter” elicits strong opinions from people in country music. This is the result of being the son of a country hero whose legacy looms so large, the history of the man himself could never match the mythos. Hank Williams Jr. was saddled with such burdens. He’s also the primary inspiration behind “Shooter.”