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10 Best Country and Americana Songs to Hear Now: Chris Janson, Madison Kozak

Janson channels Bocephus on “Say About Me,” new songwriter Kozak arrives with “First Last Name”

Chris Janson, Madison Kozak

Songs by Chris Janson and Madison Kozak are among the must-hear country tracks this week.

Conner Dwyer; Alysse Gafkjen

Eli Young Band celebrate the tried and true, Morgan Wallen searches for a love-on-the-run, and singer-songwriter Madison Kozak arrives with a beautiful ode to her father.

Darrin Bradbury, “Talking Dogs & Atom Bombs”
Cult favorite Darrin Bradbury makes his ANTI- Records debut with Talking Dogs & Atom Bombs, produced by the Milk Carton Kids’ Kenneth Pattengale and due out this September. The album’s title track dishes up Bradbury’s signature gumbo of countrified talking blues, oddball folk, and black humor, with some stoner-worthy philosophy about the origins of microwaves tossed into the pot. [Listen on Amazon Music]

Madison Kozak, “First Last Name”
As the first artist signed to Songs & Daughters, Nicolle Galyon’s all-female label, Madison Kozak has a lot riding on her shoulders. She rises to the occasion with “First Last Name,” a classic-minded country song that salutes her father with a series of short vignettes: a shared Coca-Cola at a truck stop; a tag-teamed dishwashing operation in the family kitchen; a tire swing hanging in a magnolia tree. Sharp, swooning, and all the right kinds of sentimental, this is the Father’s Day gift that all dads dream of getting. [Listen on Amazon Music]

Jesse Malin, “Meet Me at the End of the World Again”
The leather-jacketed embodiment of New York cool, Jesse Malin channels larger-than-life icons Lou Reed and Keith Richards on this singalong-worthy salute to the apocalypse. “Meet Me at the End of the World Again” is one of multiple highlights from the songwriter’s upcoming album, Sunset Kids, which was produced by Lucinda Williams and partially engineered by the late David Bianco. [Listen on Amazon Music]

Ana Egge, “Hurt a Little”
“The first step is always learning how to fall,” Ana Egge sings over a chugging, bare-boned rhythm during this song’s first verse. “Hurt a Little” eventually grows into something larger, with keyboards and coed harmonies filling the spaces between Egge’s plaintive vocals and glass-half-full perspective. A full-length album, Is It the Kiss, is due in September. [Listen on Amazon Music]

Chris Janson, “Say About Me”
The “Drunk Girl” singer-songwriter veers far away from piano ballads on this swaggering, self-referential track, in which he winkingly boasts about having the “hottest woman that this world has ever seen,” being a Grand Ole Opry member, and being dubbed “the most open-minded redneck” by Rolling Stone. It’s Janson at his most outrageous, giving even Hank Williams Jr. circa 1983 a run for his big-mouthed money. [Listen on Amazon Music]

Malin Pettersen, “Pause”
Inspired by a trip to Nashville, Malin Pettersen’s “Pause” is gorgeously sparse, featuring nothing more than the Norwegian singer’s voice and acoustic guitar. Unhurried and unforced, it’s a call to savor every moment in time, particularly those spent in the company of loved ones. [Listen on Amazon Music]

Eli Young Band, “Break It In”
Patience is the name of the game on this mid-tempo country anthem, which sings the praises of worn-in baseball gloves, “faded jeans with Skoal can rings,” and time-tested love. Released on the heels of “Love Ain’t,” the band’s first Number One single in a half-dozen years, “Break It In” looks to continue the Texas group’s revived hit streak. [Listen on Amazon Music]

Ron Pope, “Practice What I Preach”
Ron Pope promises to lead by example with “Practice What I Preach,” a blast of fierce, funky pop-soul delivered from a father to his newborn daughter. “I will do my best to practice what I preach, so you don’t have to learn things on the street like I did when I was half my age,” he sings. That message certainly packs a punch, but it’s the song’s Motown-worthy horn arrangement that delivers the knockout blow. [Listen on Amazon Music]

Tyler Childers, “All Your’n”
Country Squire is due out next week, but that hasn’t stopped Tyler Childers from leaking multiple tracks from his Purgatory follow-up. Already a fan favorite, “All Your’n” makes the transition from live staple to the studio recording, courtesy of this 1970s-leaning arrangement. His voice is as smooth as it’s ever been, but the song’s music video — stocked with more psychedelic visuals than a Woodstock attendee’s mushroom trip — proves that Childers isn’t ready to sand down his rough edges. [Listen on Amazon Music]

Morgan Wallen, “Chasin’ You”
Years after the demise of a small-town, teenage romance, Morgan Wallen finds himself in the big city, looking for something similar to quicken his heartbeat. “I’m laying every night holding someone new, still chasing you,” he sings, blending the storyline’s nostalgic bent with a polished country-pop arrangement that’s decidedly modern. [Listen on Amazon Music]

 

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