10 Best Country Songs to Hear Now: Kacey Musgraves, Lindsay Ell - Rolling Stone
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10 Best Country and Americana Songs to Hear Now: Kacey Musgraves, Lindsay Ell

Musgraves’ Disney song, RaeLynn’s liberating new anthem, and Dustbowl Revival’s slow-rolling Americana

Lindsay Ell

Lindsay Ell's "I Don't Love You" is among the must-hear country songs of the week.

Robb Cohen/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

Kristian Bush’s new band Dark Water, the Eagles’ Timothy B. Schmit (with a cameo by Sheryl Crow), and Kansas City upstart Sara Morgan all have songs you should listen to this week.

Dustbowl Revival, “Mirror”
For years, Dustbowl Revival’s songs have occupied the intersection between bluegrass, hot jazz, gospel, and pre-war blues, forming a time-bending blend of American roots music. The group deepens its direction and slows its roll with this exclusive premiere of “Mirror,” a track from next year’s Is It You, Is It Me. With its cinematic flourishes, including pizzicato strings that recall Andrew Bird, “Mirror” is better suited to a concert-hall performance than a medicine show.

Lula Wiles, “It’s Cool (We’re Cool, Everything’s Cool)”
Berklee grads Isa Burke, Eleanor Buckland, and Mali Obomsawin navigate the challenges of Millennial dating, from late-night “You up?” texts to the ever-present need to maintain a poker face. The thick harmonies recall traditional folk music, but there’s nothing old-school about “It’s Cool (We’re Cool, Everything’s Cool),” whose frank examination of modern-day romance is as refreshing as it is vital.

 

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Dark Water, “Paint It Blue”
Sugarland’s Kristian Bush unveils his new band — and new direction — with “Paint It Blue,” a heartland country-rock anthem that evokes the highway as readily as the honky-tonk. It’s a song that proudly wears its American influences on its denim-jacketed sleeve, too, from the wah-wah wooziness of the Grateful Dead to the strummed sunniness of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers.

RaeLynn, “Bra Off”
“Breaking up with you is like taking my bra off,” RaeLynn sings, relieved to be free of a constricting relationship. With its loose, funky strut and poppy bounce, “Bra Off” isn’t just a breakup anthem; it’s a reclamation of female independence, with RaeLynn singing the praises of dressing down.

William Prince, “The Spark”
Recently announced as the opening act for Yola’s upcoming U.K. tour, William Prince offers a peek at his upcoming album, February 2020’s Reliever, with a gently-rolling ballad that recalls David Gray and Kris Kristofferson. Dave Cobb and Scott Nolan co-produced “The Spark,” adding a layer of simmering strings just beneath the song’s surface and training the spotlight on Prince’s unforced baritone.

Lindsay Ell, “I Don’t Love You”
Caught up in the lonely aftermath of a breakup, Lindsay Ell pines for the presence — but not the love — of her former flame. “I still miss you sometimes,” she sings during the chorus, which mixes power-ballad melodrama with the bedroom blues of John Mayer.

Sara Morgan, “Dirty Hands”
If you’re looking to win Sara Morgan’s heart, you better be ready to roll up your sleeves. A slow-burning ballad whose lovely, lonely arrangement approaches neo-traditional territory, “Dirty Hands” finds this self-starter looking for someone who’s similarity motivated. “If I’m gonna fall in love, I know it’s gonna be with someone of the hard-working kind,” she sings, adding, “So give me a man with dirty hands and I’ll gladly give him mine.”

Kacey Musgraves, “All Is Found”
Frozen II opens with Evan Rachel Wood’s version of this wintry folksong, which Queen Iduna sings to her two daughters during a flashback sequence. Kacey Musgraves’ own recording plays during the final credits. Bare-boned and beautiful, it’s a tender take on the Disney tune, which was written by the same team behind “Let It Go.”

Kyshona, “Fear”
Co-produced with East Nashville mainstay Andrija Tokic, “Fear” finds Kyshona driving away her anxious demons. “Think you got me on your knees? No, you don’t,” she sings, addressing her own self-doubt while a soulful, Southern groove keeps this tune appropriately swampy.

Timothy B. Schmit with Sheryl Crow, “The Good Fight”
Timothy B. Schmit gets woke with this socially-conscious duet fit for roots-rock royalty. The lyrics are simple and the message is clear, with guest vocalist Sheryl Crow stopping by for moral support and a few humanitarian nuggets of her own. “Lead from the left and do what’s right,” goes the chorus, set to a soul-funk soundtrack of organs and syncopated guitar stabs.

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