Blake Shelton’s latest hit, Cody Jinks’ highly anticipated new song and the gospel-soul of Mike Farris make up this week’s list of the country and Americana songs you need to hear right now.
If it seems like Nashville’s well of talented singer-songwriters is never-ending, that’s probably because it is. And Mercy Bell, living in Music City by way of Boston and New York City, is another distinct voice with a potent, progressive take on emotive, modern folk. It’s a perspective clear on her new song “Home,” where Bell confesses to the coping mechanisms that have let her avoid life’s harshest moments, and a path to redemption that’s better late than never. “Could you come pick me up?” she sings in gorgeous harmonies and strings courtesy of Larissa Maestro and Kristin Weber, two of the town’s most gifted instrumentalists. “Forget the years that I’ve spent drunk.” With a vibrato that’s as strong as it is vulnerable, Bell makes it easy to forgive her trespasses. M.M.
Planting its flag on the pop side of the country/pop crossovers, “Lose It” mixes processed vocals, looped banjo and Jason Aldean-sized electric guitars into the same package. Brown and his girlfriend are driving to a party as the song begins, but the singer has a different sort of destination in mind, suggesting his shotgun rider lose more than her inhibitions during the sexed-up second verse. “That dress hanging off your shoulder … yeah, let’s lose it tonight,” he suggests. Steamy. R.C.
As stark and stoic as Bruce Springsteen’s stripped-down solo work, “Dead Reckoning” shines a light on the raw, real beauty of Rod Picott’s storytelling and sandpaper-scrubbed voice. Out Past the Wires, his double-disc collection of darkly desperate folk songs, marks the highlight of a career that began in his mid-thirties, after he’d already logged more than a decade as a sheetrock hanger. Here, he funnels the worn-down wooziness of his former day job into a track about love won and lost, with harmonies from the Wild Ponies’ Telisha Williams and a melody that warms – then breaks – the heart. R.C.
While an acoustic guitar rings in the background, Ben Danaher pays tribute to his father, a touring musician whose work ethic influenced his son’s resilience and resolve. Originally released last week – just in time for Father’s Day – the stripped-down ballad will make its official appearance on the Nashville songwriter’s upcoming LP Still Feel Lucky, which hits stores September 7th. R.C.
With a supersized voice filled with the electricity of Saturday night and the godly grace of Sunday mornings, Farris delivers “Golden Wings” like a Baptist preacher. This is a gospel-soul knockout, its lyrics written for Farris’ own son — “[he] is at that pivotal point in life, where he has so many options in front of him, that place of wondering, ‘Where am I supposed to be?'” Farris told Rolling Stone Country earlier this spring — and its chorus aimed at anyone who needs a bit of uplift. R.C.
Cody Jinks is halt-lit and fully alone, having finally driven away the woman whose love and support could never seem to match the brief thrill of a stiff drink. “I’ve been drinking to remember and drinking to forget / I’ve got ‘I love you on my mind,’ I got Jim Beam on my breath,” he sings during the song’s tongue-twisting chorus, while pedal-steel guitars churn up plenty of minor-key melancholia in the background. Lifers, his accompanying album of working-class country songs, is due out late next month. R.C.
Written by Rhett Akins, Ashley Gorley, Ben Hayslip and Ross Copperman, “I Lived It” delivers the same brand of syrupy Southern comfort as a Cracker Barrel breakfast. It’s a nostalgic tale of childhood in rural America, offering up a familiar flash of images — flatbed Fords in the shed, Crisco cans on the kitchen shelf — fit for a Norman Rockwell painting of Bible Belt baby boomers. Blake Shelton sells each verse as though it were his own autobiography, serving as the first-person narrator of a tune that details the sort of hillbilly-gone-Hollywood adolescence some country fans wish they’d had. R.C.
East Nashville’s own cosmic cowboy is back for another ride. This time, he’s pushing for progress – and a little partying – with “If Not Now When,” a song that urges its audience to seize the moment, enjoy the present and, perhaps, tell their country’s hate-mongers to piss off. Central to the song’s stoned swagger is a riff played on Tasjan’s slightly detuned guitar, whose warm, woozy wobble sounds like the soundtrack to the first half-hour of a mushroom trip. On that note, consider “If Not Now When” the gateway drug to his full-length album, Karma for Cheap, which arrives August 31st. R.C.
An indie-Americana supergroup assembled by Delta Spirit’s Matthew Logan Vasquez, Glorietta feels like the second coming of Middle Brother, with new personnel and another batch of collaborative, off-the-cuff songs. Written by band member Noah Gundersen, “Golden Lonesome” shines a light on the desperate emptiness that follows a breakup. “It takes a real good woman to make a mess of a man,” goes one of the most poignant lines, cloaked in reverb and filled with palpable heartbreak. R.C.
Things are heating up between Lee Brice and a fellow barfly, prompting a lot of small-town gossip about a blossoming romance. While John Mayer-inspired guitar riffs and church organs swirl in the background, Brice suggests that he and his drinking partner substantiate those rumors with their very first kiss. File this one alongside Bonnie Raitt’s “Something to Talk About.” R.C.