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10 Best Country and Americana Songs of the Week: Amanda Shires, Jackie Lee and More

Shires’ dreamy “Leave It Alone,” Lee’s personal “Long Year,” Israel Nash’s lush “Rolling On” and more songs to hear right now

amanda shires, jackie lee

New songs by Amanda Shires and Jackie Lee are among the 10 best country and Americana songs of the week.

Luke Bryan’s sunny and nostalgic new single, the latest from the wonderfully eccentric Paul Cauthen and Jackie Lee’s personal comeback track are among the best country and Americana songs you need to hear right now.

Paul Cauthen, “Resignation”

A creepy, choking laugh, an extended whistling solo (not just whistling, a whistling solo), and as many internal rhymes that’ll fit into three minutes – that’s Paul Cauthen’s madcap “Resignation” in a nutshell, and it doesn’t even cover half the weirdness. Sounding telephoned in from an alternate universe, Cauthen tends his resignation from the “space station,” as though to address the age-old question, “Whatever happened to Major Tom?” (Answer: He’s drinkin’ in his Lincoln.) “Resignation” scuttles across East Texas to a cha-cha-ing beat that sounds like a Schoolhouse Rock! outtake. Eccentricity has never sounded so catchy. J.G.

Amanda Shires, “Leave It Alone”

Trading the folksy lilt of 2016’s My Piece of Land for a Reagan-era spin on modern indie pop, Amanda Shires offer a sneak peak of her upcoming album To the Sunset with “Leave it Alone.” It’s a song that wears its influences proudly, mixing Cyndi Lauper’s geeky chic with Wars on Drugs’ stoned, guitar-arpeggiated sweep. Shires’ voice steals the spotlight, though, and her double-tracked melodies – sung with a sprightly tremble – add a human heart to her most synth-friendly work to date. R.C.

Jackie Lee, “Long Year”

Upon releasing his powerful new song “Long Year,” Jackie Lee revealed he had overcome two battles with testicular cancer after also losing his mother to ovarian cancer. The song chronicles his difficult journey, which he describes as having “lived a whole life between 24 and 25.” Lee wrote the emotional track with Barry Dean and Sean McConnell the day after the first anniversary of his mother’s death. “Long Year” marks Lee’s first release since parting ways with label Broken Bow, and follows 2016 singles “Leave the Light On” and “Getting Over You” – but it’s also country songwriting at its most personal. B.M.

Luke Bryan, “Sunrise, Sunburn, Sunset”

Bryan’s new single “Sunrise, Sunburn, Sunset” is the quintessential teenage summer love story, packed with imagery that rushes back nostalgic memories of sand, sunshine and the simplicity of summers long past. The mellow, mid-tempo track – off Bryan’s What Makes You Country – tells the tale of two young lovers brought together at a lake house and chronicles their transition from innocence to experience. Written by Zach Crowell, Ryan Hurd and Chase McGill, “Sunrise, Sunburn Sunset,” which the superstar performed on the season finale of American Idol, is what modern-day country does best: reminisce on the glory days of youth. S.S. 

Tyler Dial, “Truth in the Way”

Tyler Dial may look the part of a fresh-faced college grad (in fact, he is), but there’s hidden depth in his lyrics and vocal style. The Texas singer arrives with this thumping jam about the ambiguous end of a relationship – and the inevitable hookups that come after it. He’s just fine with that though, as he begs his lover to come hither and not let “the truth get in the way.” It’s a cavalier request, but Dial, the latest artist under Jay Joyce’s Neon Cross roster, proves persuasive enough to be irresistible. J.H.

Chris Hennessee with Jamey Johnson, “Wrong End of the Rainbow”

If you’re one of those folks always itching for something new from Jamey Johnson, you’re in luck. The elusive singer joined up with bandmate Chris Hennessee for the latter’s new song “Wrong End of the Rainbow,” off Hennessee’s forthcoming album Ramble. The tune’s a honky-tonk ode to “brokenhearted dreamers” and being in the wrong place at the wrong time, with Hennessee and Johnson sharing lead vocal duties. Johnson’s low country croon sounds as fine as it ever has, serving as the perfect complement to Hennessee’s twangy grit. B.M.