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10 Best Country and Americana Songs to Hear Now: Reba McEntire, Steve Earle

McEntire’s potent ballad, Earle’s tribute to a songwriting mentor and more songs to hear this week

Best Country Songs to Hear Now Reba McEntire

The latest from Reba McEntire and Steve Earle are among the songs to hear right now.

Cliff Lipson/CBS & Tom Bejgrowicz

A classic Reba McEntire ballad, a Guy Clark cover from his acolyte Steve Earle and a Spanglish love song from the Last Bandoleros make up our list of the best country songs to hear this week.

The Last Bandoleros, “Enamorado”
A bilingual love song, “Enamorado” mixes the ramped-up romance of Latin pop ballads with the hooks and harmonies of Southwestern roots music. YouTube singing star Alexander Stewart co-wrote the track and released his own version last summer, but “Enamorado” sounds like a Last Bandoleros original, with all four bandmates contributing to the song’s layered vocals.

Chris Janson, “Good Vibes”
“If you ain’t got anything good to say, then shut your mouth,” commands Chris Janson, who’s preaches the gospel of positive thinking with this summery pop/rocker. Co-written alongside Ashley Gorley and Zach Crowell, “Good Vibes” delivers exactly what its title suggests: a blast of upbeat, major-key euphoria, shot through with guitar riffs and a beach-worthy bounce. The single helps kickstart Janson’s promo cycle for a new album, which is slated to arrive in September.

Reba McEntire, “Stronger Than the Truth”
On Reba McEntire’s agenda for the year: a Las Vegas residency with Brooks & Dunn, a high-profile hosting gig at the ACM Awards and, most importantly, her first album since 2017’s gospel-flavored Sing It Now. “Stronger Than the Truth,” the record’s title track, is a power ballad about infidelity, with Reba looking to dull the sting of her lover’s wandering ways with plenty of whiskey. Unfortunately, not even firewater can wash away the truth.

Molly Tuttle, “Million Miles”
Back in October 2018, Jason Isbell tapped Molly Tuttle as an opening act during his annual residency at the Ryman Auditorium. She returns the favor with this new single, which makes gorgeous use of Isbell’s vocal harmonies, Sierra Hull’s mandolin playing and Tuttle’s award-winning flatpicking. Also getting a piece of the action are songwriters Steve Poltz and Jewel, who began co-writing “Million Miles” two decades earlier. The song remained unfinished until Poltz gave it off to Tuttle — a move that feels like a passing of the folk-music torch.

Steve Earle & the Dukes, “Dublin Blues”
Steve Earle’s upcoming album Guy finds the songwriter setting aside his own material and, instead, paying tribute to longtime influence Guy Clark. “Dublin Blues” marks the record’s kickoff track, with Earle and company reworking the stripped-down title track from Clark’s 1995 record into an amplified Americana anthem.

Shovels & Rope, “The Wire”
It’ll be a busy April for Shovels & Rope, whose new album By Blood arrives one day before the start of the band’s yearly High Water Festival. While 2019 marks the third installment of High Water, “The Wire” — the duo’s first release from By Blood — hints at changes on the horizon. After all, the song owes as much to indie-pop as the band’s Americana roots, with a percussive pulse gluing everything together.

Randy Rogers Band, “Crazy People”
Raised by devout parents in small-town Texas, Randy Rogers Band kicks off “Crazy People” by recalling his family’s strict moral code. . .then finds a shoebox of old photographs that prove his parents once knew how to party. It’s a tried-and-true country storyline, and “Crazy People” delivers the expected highlights, from the tongue-twisting lyrics in the chorus to the heartland hooks that run throughout.

Marcus King Band, “Goodbye Carolina”
Produced by Dave Cobb and championed by Chris Stapleton, “Goodbye Carolina” burns slowly, building its way toward a fiery blaze of slide-guitar pyrotechnics and Deep-South soul over six minutes. What begins as a ballad officially turns into a barn-burner during the final moments, with King’s guitar leading the charge.

Lula Wiles, “Good Old American Values”
A descendant of the Abenaki Native American tribe, Mali Obomsawin sings about the dark side of American traditions on this folky protest song. Bandmates Isa Burke and Eleanor Buckland back her up on fiddle and acoustic guitar, adding heft to a track that tackles the country’s longtime habit of subjugating indigenous peoples.

Caroline Spence, “Sit Here and Love Me”
A bare-bones ballad about the intersection between depression’s gloom and compassion’s sunny uplift, “Sit Here and Love Me” finds an anxious Caroline Spence singing directing to her partner. “I’ve been this way as long as I’ve been here,” she says, nodding to her ongoing struggle with anxiety while an acoustic guitar rings in the background. The solution to her issue isn’t medication; it’s the mere presence and support of her lover. “I don’t need you to solve any problem at all,” she assures during the chorus, adding, “I just need you to sit here and love me.”

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