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10 Best Country and Americana Songs of the Week: Corey Smith, Lilly Hiatt and More

Smith’s defiant “Empty Rooms,” Hiatt’s homage to vinyl, Paul Cauthen’s Cash-like exhortation and other songs to hear now

10 Best Country and Americana Songs of the Week: Corey Smith, Lilly Hiatt

Songs by Corey Smith and Lilly Hiatt are among the 10 country and Americana tracks you must hear this week.

Courtesy of Corey Smith; Alysse Gafkjen

Paul Cauthen channels Johnny Cash, Kenny Chesney implores us to all get along and Jesse Dayton embraces his stubborn side in this week’s collection of country and Americana songs you need to hear.

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Corey Smith, “Empty Rooms”

Corey Smith has never been one to bow to authority figures (see “Fuck the Po-Po,” his personal account of power gone unchecked). But the Jefferson, Georgia, singer-songwriter is particularly defiant on “Empty Rooms,” the first hint of his upcoming album. This time, Smith is cutting down the corporate music business: “I wouldn’t trade my freedom for a minute on your stage / I’d rather play in empty rooms,” he growls, doubling down on his vow to never record “cookie-cutter shit.” Best known for his road-warrior touring and big-with-the-college-crowd songs like “Maybe Next Year” and “21,” Smith embraces funk and fury on “Empty Rooms,” resulting in his strongest effort in years. J.H.

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Adam Wright With Lee Ann Womack, “From My Bough”

Songwriter Adam Wright’s name was all over Lee Ann Womack’s 2017 album The Lonely, the Lonesome & the Gone, with contributions including the haunting “All the Trouble” and the title track. Womack returns the favor by adding background vocals on Wright’s chilling “From My Bough,” from his forthcoming album Dust (out June 22nd). With a hint of traditional English folksong lurking in his eerie melody, Wright sings about racial violence and lynching from the perspective of a tree – begging to be chopped down before it can serve as an accessory to any more horror. J.F.

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Dawn Landes, “What Will I Do”

Dawn Landes has been making music for over a decade now, since her debut solo project Dawn’s Music in 2005. Since then, Landes has released solo music and collaborated on an eclectic range of projects with other artists, including Sufjan Stevens and Norah Jones. She’ll release a new album, Meet Me at the River, on August 10th, a project for which she tapped legendary country producer Fred Foster. “What Will I Do” is the first song available from that album, and it showcases Landes’ pristine vocals and the talents of her murderer’s row of a band. B.M.

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Devon Gilfillian, “Troublemaker”

Devon Gilfillian is one of the most exciting young artists in Nashville’s burgeoning soul scene, and he’s made his mark nationally, too, with songs from his 2016 self-titled debut EP. He signed to Capitol Records in late 2017, and in recent interviews, he’s alluded to a potential full-length in 2018. If his new song “Troublemaker” – a raucous heaping of swampy soul rock – is any indication of what to expect from that project, music lovers are in for a serious treat. Even football fans are already hip to Gilfillian: he recently performed at the NFL Draft in Dallas. B.M.

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