An unexpected musical direction from Florida Georgia Line, the latest from troubadour Jason Eady and the reverberating new single from Michigan Rattlers help make up the 10 country and Americana songs you must hear this week.
Guitarist Graham Young and bassist Adam Reed fleshed out the sound of their folky L.A.-by-way-of-Michigan band with the addition of keys player Christian Wilder – and the result is riveting rock & roll with a country edge. New single “Just Good Night” pulses with organ, as Young sings of almost maddening time spent alone: “The radio makes me crazy and the silence does the same / but there’s a savior of the sunrise just behind the mountain range.” It’s a musical rebirth of sorts for the Rattlers, who continue to make their bones with their intense live show: they’ll play Bonnaroo this weekend. J.H.
“We’re bound to float that
Taking its name from the location of a music festival he once played in Northern California, “Calaveras County” finds Americana troubadour Jason Eady in a jauntier, more lighthearted mood than the gritty storytelling of his self-titled LP from 2017. Eady shares vocals with his wife Courtney Patton as he relays a feel-good encounter with the kindness of strangers. No mere optimist’s parable, the song — the first from a new record due August 10th, I Travel On — is based on an episode from Eady’s own childhood when his father’s truck ran out of gas during a family trip. J.G.
Harper Grae reckons with the ghost of a mother she never really knew in “Bloodline,” the Alabama native’s new single and first release from a forthcoming EP and video series. Her uptempo, stomp-and-clap arrangement has traces of the rafter-rattling folk of the Lumineers, but Grae’s a platinum-voiced country-pop singer with a flair for turning her harrowing past into high art. Here, she fearlessly surveys the damage, and wonders if she’ll be able to escape the gravity of her mother’s troubles, comparing her everyday experience to a high-wire walk. “Take the truth and twist it ’til it fits you like a noose,” sings Grae. It’s riveting, heartbreaking stuff that doubles as trauma therapy. J.F.
With new song “This Town’s a Drag,” Cordovas announced That Santa Fe Channel, their latest album, due August 10th, and their first for ATO Records. Produced by the Milk Carton Kids’ Kenneth Pattengale, “This Town’s a Drag” takes stock of a “straight-laced” town with “no drugs” or anything too fun to be found. The track boasts a laid-back arrangement that still feels tight, offering up some room for noodling while showcasing the serious chops for which the jammy Americana band has become known. B.M.
Sometimes the fear of god is more unsettling than any demons the mind can muster. In “I’m Afraid,” ex-Show Ponies member Jason Hawk Harris channels the confession of a childhood friend scared stiff by his mother’s unsettling piety, pairing it with a ripcord beat, boogieing piano, and electric guitar that tears off notes in jagged shards. Harris’ beleaguered warnings and nasally delivery are reminiscent of Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle, but his message is more about self-preservation than faith. Or, as he puts it, “Buddy, you can’t be too careful when it comes to holy ghosts.” J.G.
With their two newest songs, Florida Georgia Line took something of an unexpected left turn into roots-pop, suspenders and all. While the duo’s new single is “Simple,” the rollicking song they performed at the CMT Awards, it’s the b-side “Colorado” that really steals the ole medicine show. With its twangy guitar and Appalachian flourishes, it’s more country than we’ve heard from FGL in a while, and is anchored by one of their most clever lyrical couplets to date: “I’ve got friends from Colorado, I’ve got friends from Tennessee / So I’ve got something in a bottle, and I’ve got something from a seed.” B.M.
Husband-wife duo the Dryes sing their origin story in the slinky “Amen,” mingling potent sexuality with the salvation of love. “I met him singing in the church choir, lit up my heart like that holy fire,” sings Katelyn Drye over a scuzzy guitar riff that recalls Norman Greenbaum’s classic “Spirit in the Sky” and a strutting beat that could make the most conservative church lady clutch her pearls. Husband Derek adds harmonies in the chorus breakdown, a down-low gospel chant that asks the rhetorical question: “Can I get an amen?” With a groove this tough, absolutely. J.F.
While other songs on his exceptional LP Passionate Kind mine social issues and a worldly view, the title track, a gentle folk ballad about a complicated woman – whose complications are worth dealing with – is as romantic and refreshing as it is barbed with cautionary wisdom. “She knows every line of Shakespeare by heart,” he sings. “Says ‘love and betrayal are only inches apart’ / You gotta watch what you say or she’ll send you away.” The mesmerizing video accompanying the tune features Bucaro’s visual muse, acclaimed ballerina Juliet Doherty, who also appeared in his recent clip for “Sleepwalker.” S.B.
Whistles, horns and a slew of New York City allusions highlight Ana Egge’s “Girls, Girls, Girls,” the breezy opener of the Brooklyn folksinger’s new album White Tiger. Egge celebrates a New York that felt welcoming to all: singing with a Joni Mitchell croon and the wide-eyed optimism of an artist new to her city. But that was then. Now Egge has been around the block – and become a favorite of fellow songwriters Lucinda Williams and Shawn Colvin in the process – and she’s reflecting with some world-weariness on those heady early days, when her city was “the place to be.” J.H.