The carpe diem message of Kip Moore’s “Last Shot,” the self-preservationst theme of Carly Pearce’s “Hide the Wine” and the “just chill, dude” entreaty of Everette’s “Slow Roll” are among the 10 best country and Americana songs to hear this week.
Fantastic Negrito’s Please Don’t Be Dead hits stores today, one year after its maker – equal parts socially-conscious soul singer, modern bluesman and R&B storyteller – took home the 2017 Grammy Award for Best Blues Album. Songs like “The Duffler” double down on everything that earned Fantastic Negrito’s previous release, The Last Days of Oakland, its trophy. With its greasy guitar stomp and falsetto vocal delivery, “The Duffler” fills the middle ground between modern protest music for the political rally and sweaty, sexed-up baby-making music for the bedroom. Long live the next generation of engaged citizens. R.C.
Cut from the same college-radio cloth as Drivin’ N’ Cryin’s power ballads, “Anywhere But Here” pushes chiming guitars, small-town wanderlust and a simple request — “take me anywhere we can disappear” — to epic heights. A bandleader and rock & roll lifer who was playing encores of his own long before he joined Jason Isbell’s 400 Unit, Vaden returns to his roots here, mining the rock heroics of yesteryear and turning them into a soundtrack for getting the hell outta dodge. Beginning with a slow-burning intro, the payoff arrives in the form of a blistered guitar lead. R.C.
Millennial country receives an arena-rock makeover with Lanco’s newest single. “Born to Love You” marks the crossroads between the tried-and-true components of a stadium singalong: four-on-the-floor drums, U2-inspired guitar tones and a simple chorus that’s meant to resonate all the way to the nose-bleed seats. Brandon Lancaster sings with enough Tennessee twang to root the song in the American South, and the result is a radio single that makes to excuses for its mainstream-minded appeal. File this one under “potential song of the summer.” R.C.
While producer Butch Walker co-pilots the ship with a Memphis-soul bass groove and a heady, Beatles-worthy arrangement, Baxter conducts his own magical mystery tour of the modern world. This is a globe filled with warring politicians, increasingly incensed neighbors and the flashbulbed frenzy of a 24-hour news cycle. Baxter embraces the chaos, turning that madness into a funky pop song with help from friends like Cage the Elephant’s Nick Bockrath and Dr. Dog’s Eric Slick. A full-length album, Wide Awake, follows in mid-July. R.C.
Montana songwriter Izaak Opatz escapes a busted relationship with a metaphorical rebirth in the mystical Indian river. Complete with a spoken-word breakdown, it’s a superb bit of writing and performance that recalls the solo work of Jim James. But Opatz, a contemporary of equally creative artists like Jonny Fritz and Robert Ellis, says director Nora Ephron also figures into this rumination on whether a relationship is ever truly over. “It’s the moment when you either hew to the lessons of your favorite Nora Ephron movies – don’t give up, this could be the one – or listen to the levelheaded friends who care about you – get the fuck over it,” he says. J.H.
It took Carly Pearce’s breakthrough hit “Every Little Thing” a long and steady climb to finally – and rightfully – reach the top of the charts. Now her second single, “Hide the Wine,” is on track to do the same, even at a snail’s pace. After 26 weeks, the song finally hit Number 30 on Billboard’s Country Airplay, bringing the sensual twanger about loose inhibitions that only intensify with a little booze on a hopeful path to the top – and with Pearce’s win for Breakthrough Video of the Year at the recent CMT Awards, perhaps it will be sooner than later. M.M.
While breezy and delightfully catchy, Kip Moore’s “Last Shot,” off his third album Slowheart, packs a simple but powerful message – to wholeheartedly embrace every second of our fleeting lives. The carpe diem mentality is represented in the song’s heart-wrenching video too, which follows longtime best friends who face and, ultimately make the best of, immense tragedy. Both lyrically and visually, “Last Shot” expertly weaves together moments of euphoric joy with the acknowledgement of the sorrows that inevitably accompany being human. And while the underlying message is bittersweet, “Last Shot” remains uplifting, with vivid lyrics delivered via Moore’s signature soft, husky vocals. S.S.
There’s an entire philosophy contained in one line of country duo Everette’s debut single “Slow Roll” that name-checks Matthew McConaughey and his immortal, “Alright, alright, alright” from Dazed and Confused. It speaks to an easygoing mentality that meshes with the relaxed, blues-influenced groove of vocalist Brent Rupard and guitarist-vocalist Anthony Olympia. With its entreaties to shirk obligation and a clever, “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”-inspired bridge, the song makes enjoying lazy summer days sound like the most logical, healthy thing a person could do. J.F.
With an elastic, electrifying voice that nods to Jeff Buckley’s vibrato and Robert Plant’s libido-charged charm, Reuben Bidez suffers the world’s coolest panic attack on “Don’t Let Me Die.” It’s an anxious pop-rocker, shot through with sympathetic playing from a hotshot studio band whose personnel includes multiple Texas Gentlemen. Like the rest of Bidez’s new EP, Something to Say, “Don’t Let Me Die” makes sure its heavy subject matter go down smoothly, with Bidez’s musings about survival and self-identity sharing the spotlight alongside a funky, organ-led chorus and a melody that’s deceptively upbeat. R.C.
Old Dominion channel a percussive guitar line straight out of Nile Rodgers’ Chic for “Hotel Key,” the band’s latest single from Happy Endings. Per usual for this gang of songwriters, it’s an impeccably constructed track, with singer Matthew Ramsey’s rapid-fire delivery and a well-placed “ooh-ooh” chorus strengthening the song into a Category 5 earworm. In the bridge, he sings of locking out the world, but Old Dominion’s gift for catchy fare like this – and their ACM Vocal Group of the Year award – ensures there won’t be too many doors they can’t open. J.H.