10 Best Country and Americana Songs to Hear Now: Sturgill Simpson, Jesse Dayton
New songs from promising Australian trio Dozzi, American Idol alum Brooke White and roots-rock band the High Divers make up this week’s list of the best country and Americana songs.
Dylan Brady, “Over Us”
Feeling beaten down by a breakup, 20-year-old Dylan Brady channels his melancholy into a nostalgic, radio-friendly anthem. Ramping up the song’s FM appeal are Rascal Flatts’ Joe Don Rooney and Hunter Hayes’ music director, Andy Sheridan, both of whom share production credit.
Jesse Dayton, “Bankrobber”
“Bankrobber” was written by Joe Strummer and Mick Jones, but when hard-touring highwayman Jesse Dayton growls the part about breaking his back to earn his pay, this Clash cover sounds downright autobiographical. Released on this summer’s upcoming Mixtape Volume 1, Dayton’s reimagined “Bankrobber” is joined by covers of ZZ Top, the Cars, AC/DC and others.
Lauren Duski, “The Weather”
With help from songwriting ace Liz Rose, Lauren Duski pays tribute to her grandparents’ 65-year relationship, mixing sweet recollections of family life with a sad portrayal of her grandfather — now a widower — struggling to make sense of life without his longtime partner. The music video adds another emotional layer to the picture, illustrating and illuminating the ballad’s lyrics with nostalgic home footage.
Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis, “Astrodome”
Co-written alongside Jack Ingram, “Astrodome” salutes the former home of the Astros, Oilers and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, using the semi-demolished arena as a metaphor for time’s relentless pace and youth’s sad impermanence. It’s a heavy song, but the chorus’s bright bounce adds some levity, as do Willis’ harmonies.
Steve Everett, “Pick Your Head Up”
Co-written with Britney Monroe, “Pick Your Head Up” finds independent musician Steve Everett wooing his very own Cinderella with a glass slipper, a slickly-delivered vocal and plenty of poppy polish.
Sturgill Simpson, “The Dead Don’t Die”
In the new zombie flick The Dead Don’t Die, Selena Gomez picks up a Sturgill Simpson CD at a record store and coolly tells the clerk, “I love this song!” And who wouldn’t? A throwback honky-tonk ballad about the memories our loved ones leave behind, “The Dead Don’t Die” is traditional country music at its ageless best.
Paul Cauthen, “Cocaine Country Dancing”
Sometimes it snows in Texas. Paul Cauthen powders his nose, unleashes his larger-than-life bark of a baritone and delivers a love song to his vices with “Cocaine Country Dancing.” In the background, members of the Texas Gentlemen kick up a Seventies-worthy country groove.
Dozzi, a trio of harmony-loving Australian sisters who relocated to Nashville three years ago, will spend the summer playing weekly gigs in the honky-tonks of Lower Broadway. The debut single “Fools” distills that live show into three sugarcoated minutes, with each sibling singing a verse before joining forces with the others during the chorus. This is modern country-pop at its most Millennial-friendly, from the emoji references to the Brisbane-sized hooks.
The High Divers, “Our Love Is a Fire”
Produced by Jason Isbell’s guitar-hero collaborator, Sadler Vaden, “Our Love Is a Fire” contrasts haunting lyrics about a mutually-abusive relationship with singalong choruses and spaghetti-western guitar tones. “Burn down, burn up,” goes the refrain, shining a light on a couple’s sad cycle of destruction and reconciliation.
Brooke White, “Calico”
More than a decade after covering Carole King and Carly Simon on American Idol‘s seventh season, Brooke White offers up her own version of California country with “Calico.” It’s a blend of Nashville’s neon-lit twang and Laurel Canyon’s warm folk-pop, with White reveling in her self-made culture clash.