A harmony-rich song about the expanse of nature, a Voice champ’s reinvention and a track that cheekily name-checks hit songwriter Dallas Davidson make up the 10 country and Americana songs you need to hear right now.
Newcomer Stephanie Quayle channels Nineties country à la Martina McBride in “Selfish,” a soulful mid-tempo tune about wanting a lover all to herself. Quayle wrote the song with Andrew Scott Wills and Tori Tellier for her new album Love the Way You See Me, which released in September of last year. She recently dropped an intimate music video for the tune, which is also Quayle’s current single. B.M.
Trad-country underdog Shane Owens’ advice to a friend in search of love can be summed up in one word: “Lie.” That may sound cynical, but it’s devilishly so on this romping, boot-scootin’-boogie ripped right out of Garth Brooks’ Nineties playbook. The Alabama native revels in delivering this tongue-in-cheek anthem, which includes getting out of town and faking a terminal illness – basically whatever it takes – drawing out his baritone over the title’s lone syllable. Is it a foolproof plan? “Man, it’s bound to work sometimes,” Owens sings. J.G.
There’s no sure-shot way to score a Number One song, but Whiskey Wolves of the West have hit on a novel way of doing it — two of them, in fact. The first, à la Big Star, is to simply put “#1” in the title. The other is to name it after a serial hitmaker, in this case Dallas Davidson, who’s written hits for Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan and Lady Antebellum. “Every word rolls off my tongue into a song that’s Number One,” sing Nashville vets Leroy Powell and Tim Jones, cheekily listing off one improbable fantasy after another. J.G.
Tyler Rich’s new single has been floating around for a few weeks now, but it just notched a pretty enviable accolade: rising to Mediabase’s most added song for this past week. The honey-sweet pop-country track takes stock of the differences between friendships and romantic relationships (without, notably, mentioning the sometimes problematic concept of “the friend zone”), like, “There’s a difference in ‘what’s going on’ and ‘baby, how was your day?'” B.M.
Like some experimental, old-school R&B ballad for the digital age, “Everlasting Peace” finds Honeyhoney bandmate Ben Jaffe overdubbing his voice into gorgeous stacks of gospel-choir harmony, while electric guitars strum, keyboards swoon and drums skitter in the background. A stunning, left-field highlight from Jaffe’s solo debut, Oh Wild Ocean of Love, this love song pitches its tent in the middle ground between the church, the jazz club, Father John Misty and your favorite D’Angelo record. R.C.
Jordan Davis caught the ears of country listeners with his single “Singles You Up,” a poppy track built on a clever lyrical conceit. Over the last few weeks, the track has been climbing Billboard‘s Hot Country Songs chart and, as of April 4th, Davis now tops their Emerging Artists Chart. The success of “Singles You Up” factors prominently into that achievement, as does Davis’s just-released debut album Home State, which nabbed first-week sales of 11,000 equivalent album units and landed at Number Six on Billboard‘s Top Country Albums chart. B.M.
Backed by a reshuffled version of his long-running band, American Aquarium frontman BJ Barham barks out an anthem about keeping your chin up, your chest out and your best foot forward. It’s a uniquely Southern take on the “roll with the punches” motif, with Barham using his family’s agricultural roots as the storyline’s main ingredient. Shot through with barroom wisdom and Springsteen-worthy spirit, “Tough Folks” is as hard-nosed as its titular characters. R.C.
“This ain’t the same old story about two hearts hooking up, one and done on a Friday,” Pope warns a potential lover, singing not about the temporary pleasures of a one-night stand, but the lasting effects of something long-term. A pop-rock power ballad that owes just as much to Pope’s first major gig – the frontwoman of Hey Monday, a favorite among the Warped Tour crowd – as her country makeover, “Take You Home” was coincidentally co-written by former Boys Like Girls member Paul DiGiovanni, whose band shared a string of shows with Hey Monday nearly a decade earlier. R.C.
Proudly wearing their country-rock influences on their flannel sleeves, the Wild Feathers sing the praises of rolling blacktop and unbroken horizons on “Big Sky,” the first single from the band’s forthcoming LP. The group’s triple-layered harmonies nod to the past, calling to mind everything from the Eagles’ pre-Joe Walsh work to Alabama’s Mountain Music. The presentation, though, is more modernized, with producer Jay Joyce drawing a line between the sounds that inspire the Wild Feathers and the community that nurtures them. R.C.
Roots-music hero Ry Cooder tells his own version of the Prodigal Son parable, changing the Bible’s original plot to involve a Bakersfield bar, a waitress and the worship-worthy work of steel guitarist Ralph Mooney. “Dim lights, thick smoke and loud, loud music is the only kind of truth I’ll ever understand,” the son declares at the song’s conclusion, while a hotshot band – including his son and co-producer, drummer Joachim Cooder – whips up a storm of raw, roadhouse rock & roll in the background. R.C.