A stunning performance by Katty Mattea, a punky collaboration between a respected drummer and genre-bending country singer, and an anthemic message by Carrie Underwood make up the 10 songs you need to hear this week.
The Get You (Featuring Kacey Musgraves), “Pretty Good”
Taking a break from his gig as Sheryl Crow’s drummer, Fred Eltringham steps up to the microphone for his first album with the Get You, a lo-fi garage band specializing in reimagined cover songs by Harry Nilsson, Lucinda Williams and other songwriters. Here, he turns John Prine’s “Pretty Good” into a thumping power-pop gem, driving everything forward with alt-rock guitars and Kacey Musgraves’ harmonies. Eltringham played drums on Musgraves’ first two albums, thus turning this curveball cover into a full-circle reunion between two musicians at the top of their game.
Kathy Mattea, “Mercy Now”
Mary Gauthier’s “Mercy Now” is turned into a hymn-like call for peace and brotherhood, backed by soft drums, pedal steel and acoustic guitar. The song swoons and swells, with Mattea singing each line in a voice that’s deepened and darkened since her late-Eighties heyday. Topical and timely, the song is a much-needed reminder to stop pointing fingers and, instead, reach out for the hand of a neighbor in need.
Amy Helm, “Michigan”
Levon Helm’s daughter updates the Milk Carton Kids’ “Michigan,” adding percussion, B3 organ and soulful stomp to a song that, in its original incarnation, was sparse and entirely acoustic. Under her direction, the song’s chorus isn’t just poignant — it’s powerful, too, with Helm’s voice leading a small choir of backup singers. The result is just as lonely-sounding as the original, but with significantly more personnel and rootsy punch.
Delta Rae, “Do You Ever Dream?”
Struck by the sad reality of a crumbling relationship, Delta Rae’s Brittany Holljes lets her imagination run wild, silently wondering if her partner ever thinks beyond the current moment, too. The rest of the band chimes in with thick harmonies and sweeping orchestration, turning “Do You Ever Dream?” into a richly arranged power ballad. Shot in rural Iceland, the song’s music video is equally lush, with dreamy scenery that dovetails with Delta Rae’s lyrics.
Jackie Greene, “Crazy Comes Easy”
Greene doubles down on his musical roots with “Crazy Comes Easy,” a bluesy blast of Southern rock and sunny soul. The song pays tribute to love’s addled affect on the human mind, with a chorus that evokes the Black Crowes — whose final lineup featured Greene on electric guitar — and plenty of slide guitar. Recorded in the songwriter’s home studio in Brooklyn, “Crazy Comes Easy” is the kickoff single from The Modern Lives – Vol. 2, which arrives next month.
Seth Ennis, “Call Your Mama”
“Boy, listen to your mother, ’cause you ain’t ever gonna get another,” Seth Ennis sings on this gently rolling ballad. Debuted during his U.K. tour with Little Big Town, the song features thick harmonies from the vocal group, as well as a string of sweet, family-friendly reminders to touch base with the people you sometimes leave behind in the rearview mirror.
Carrie Underwood, “Love Wins”
An open-armed anthem that calls for peace in a time of civil unrest, “Love Wins” is Carrie Underwood at her brazen best, filled with glory notes, gospel overtones and power-ballad gloss. She shies away from making direct references to politicians or unfair legislation, leaning instead on an “all you need is love” sentiment that goes down easily and inoffensively on both sides of the aisle. Co-written and co-produced by the singer herself, “Love Wins” is the second single from Underwood’s upcoming Cry Pretty.
Hymn for Her, “Blue Balloons”
Like a modernized spin of Spirit’s “It’s Nature’s Way,” “Blue Balloons” turns climate concerns and ecological anxiety into a psychedelic, left-field Americana song. Hymn for Her bandmates Wayne Waxing and Lucy Tight let their freak flag fly, lacing their tune with orchestral flourishes, coed harmonies and offbeat moments straight out of musical theater. At its core, though, “Blue Balloons” delivers a very sobering message, urging listeners to care for their planet before time runs out.
Terri Clark, “Young As We Are Tonight”
“Raise that beer and be damn proud that you grew up ’round here,” Clark sings during this seize-the-day epic. An upbeat reminder of time’s relentless pace, “Young As We Are Tonight” urges its audience to pause, reflect and make the most of the current moment. In the background, an echoing drum pattern and a simmering, U2-worthy guitar riff help cement the song’s carpe diem charisma.
The Gibson Brothers, “Lay Your Body Down”
This ain’t your grandfather’s bluegrass music. Two-time winners of the International Bluegrass Music Association Awards’ biggest honor, Entertainer of the Year, the Gibson Brothers expand far beyond their genre’s twang-and-tradition cornerstones to build something new. Working with producer Dan Auerbach, they explore an amplified classic rock sound with “Lay Your Body Down,” a song that’s as sexually direct as it is electrically driven. A full-length album, Mockingbird, will follow on November 9th, exploring the band’s unconventional influences in rock, soul and beyond.