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10 Best Country, Americana Songs to Hear Now: Hailey Whitters, Hot Country Knights

Whitters offers life lessons in ‘Janice at the Hotel Bar,’ Dierks Bentley’s Nineties band champions pickup trucks, and more songs to stream this week

Hailey Whitters

Hailey Whitters' 'Janice at the Hotel Bar' is one of the must-hear country songs this week.

Harper Smith*

Jason Isbell’s guitar foil Sadler Vaden, Philadelphia songwriter Roger Harvey, and Dierks Bentley’s alter-ego Nineties group all have songs on this week’s list.

Sadler Vaden, “Golden Child”
A solo artist, modern-day guitar hero, and longtime member of Jason Isbell’s 400 Unit, Sadler Vaden has spent the better part of a decade carrying the torches for Americana and rock & roll. Here, he nods to his classic-rock roots with a song whose six-string heroics are steeped in the funky, fiery influence of Joe Walsh.

Roger Harvey, “Twice as High”
The video for Roger Harvey’s “Twice as High” was filmed in Joshua Tree, with California’s widescreen skies and rolling hills looming above. It’s an appropriate setting for a song about nostalgia and lost love, with pedal steel guitars and light percussion flanking Harvey’s gauzy voice.

Hailey Whitters, “Janice at the Hotel Bar”
Like a sonic sister to Kacey Musgraves and Miranda Lambert, Hailey Whitters turns ordinary, small-town characters into extraordinary subjects. “Janice at the Hotel Bar” finds her sharing a drink with an eightysomething woman who’s more than happy to dispense advice gleaned from a life well lived. For more, keep a lookout for Whitters’ The Dream, which arrives next month.

Edan Archer, “Garden Rose”
“I get right up next to losing you,” Edan Archer sings during this near-miss-breakup ballad, which traces the arc of a rocky relationship as it stumbles, almost fizzles out, and then regains its footing. There’s no mistaking the country twang in Archer’s voice, but “Garden Rose” points to an artist who’s carved her own sound out of classic ingredients, skirting closer to the world of cosmic, crooner-worthy Americana. The song’s one-of-a-kind music video, complete with Lego animation, is an appropriate accompaniment.

Miss Tess, “The Moon Is an Ashtray”
A song that’s every bit as gorgeously vintage as Miss Tess’s 1930s Weymann archtop, “The Moon Is an Ashtray” evokes an era when jazz, country, and blues were all part of the same trunk, rather than separate musical branches reaching toward their own patch of sky.

Hot Country Knights, “Pick Her Up”
With tongues firmly in cheek and hair proudly in mullets, Hot Country Knights toast the bygone days of Nineties country, mixing humor and honky-tonk hooks into this gem of a debut single. Duet partner Travis Tritt shares frontman duties with bandleader Dierks Bentley (undercover as Douglas Douglason), but the band kicks up plenty old-school dust of its own, bringing the song to an epic finish with a guitar- and fiddle-filled outro.

The Kudzu Duo “Pushin’ My Luck”
Turn on, tune in, and drop out to this quick, taut burst of blues rock. A Nashville-based duo made up of guitarist-singer Reed Turchi and drummer Lemuel Hayes (the B-52’s’ Cindy Wilson), “Pushin’ My Luck” feels both spontaneous and crafted, packing its psychedelic punch into a two-and-a-half-minute mix of maximum Gibson guitar and expert percussion.

Nick Pagliari, “When I Leave”
Written in tribute to the late Tom Petty, “When I Leave” is a Wildflowers-worthy salute to the pursuit of rock & roll redemption, dressed up with light layers of acoustic guitar, vocal harmonies, and upright piano. “Don’t cry for me when I leave this place,” Pagliari sings in a voice that’s warm and just weary enough, embodying the spirit of his heartland hero.

Tami Neilson, “You Were Mine”
Tami Neilson turns back the clock with this sauntering, smoky breakup ballad, which laces her throwback soul music with a shot of late-night, lounge-worthy jazz. “There’s before and then there’s after,” she sings in each chorus, bemoaning the way life has shifted since the loss of a loved one. Behind her, tambourines rattle, pianos twinkle, and guitars growl.

Van Darien, “Twisted Metal”
“Just keep your foot on the pedal,” Van Darien tells her speed-demon lover, knowing the both of them are too stubborn to bail out of a relationship that’s bound for collision. Co-written with Maren Morris — another Texas-born Nashvillian who, like Darien, uses country music as a jumping-off point for a broader, bolder sound — “Twisted Metal” mixes Americana atmospherics with overdriven guitar and throaty hooks fit for pop royalty.

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In This Article: Dierks Bentley, Hailey Whitters

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