Songs from Luke Combs and Craig Morgan about the bond between a father and his son, a track from Trisha Yearwood that parallels her relationship with Garth Brooks, and a love letter to the road from Michaela Anne make up this week’s best country and Americana songs.
Caleb Caudle, “Howlin’ at the Moon”
Backed by harmonica ace Mickey Raphael and outlaw country queen Elizabeth Cook, Caleb Caudle revives an old Hank Williams song from 1951, slowing down the tempo to a funky strut and replacing the original’s emphasis on pedal steel guitar with plenty of honking harp. Recorded during the sessions for his 2020 follow-up to Crushed Coins, the song was tracked at Cash Cabin Studio, lending some old-school cred to a new-school arrangement.
Brittany Howard, “He Loves Me”
Alabama Shakes’ charismatic singer gives it up to God, thanking Him for his endless capacity to love and forgive. Accented by everything from a swampy, swung groove to a Fugees-worthy swagger, “He Loves Me” is modern soul music with gospel roots.
Luke Combs, “Even Though I’m Leaving”
Combs charts the everlasting bond between a father and son throughout multiple decades, touching upon country-music cornerstones like family, the military, and God along the way. Co-written with a team that includes “When It Rains It Pours” collaborator Ray Fulcher, “Even Though I’m Leaving” is classic Combs: a song that refashions country traditions into something modern.
Craig Morgan, “The Father, My Son and the Holy Ghost”
“I know my boy ain’t here, but he ain’t gone,” Craig Morgan sings on this emotional power ballad, which he wrote about the terrible loss of his teenage son in 2016. Written alone and influenced by the Sunday-morning sweep of gospel music, the self-produced “Father, My Son and the Holy Ghost” finds Morgan leaning on his faith for support.
Michaela Anne, “Child of the Wind”
“My hometown was a backseat, looking out at highway signs,” sings Michaela Anne, tracing the connections between her military-brat childhood and her road-warrior present. With its stacked harmonies and brisk pace, “Child of the Wind” is a tribute to a life spent on the run, rustling up the thrill of the highway.
Glen Hansard, “Leave a Light”
Recorded in a cottage in northern Spain, this live version of “Leave a Light” finds Glen Hansard leading a makeshift band of unplugged instrumentalists. The song itself is a Celtic ballad, driven forward by the powerful punch of Hansard’s voice, but the live performance is something more, giving viewers a front-row seat of a jam session in an untraditional space. The clip comes from The Camino Voyage, an award-winning documentary that highlights Hansard and company’s journey from Ireland to Spain via a homemade boat.
Sheryl Crow, “Story of Everything”
This ain’t no disco, and it ain’t no country song, either. At least not in the traditional sense. Flanked by Chuck D, Andra Day and Gary Clark Jr., Sheryl Crow gets pissed-off and political with “Story of Everything,” a fierce n’ funky song that skewers “our do-nothing Congress,” pines for the loss of Main Street USA, and bemoans the recent rash of mass shootings. Clark’s guitar gives the song plenty of bluesy bombast, connecting this versatile genre-hopper from Crow’s Threads — reportedly the songwriter’s last album ever — to her heartland roots.
Sturgill Simpson, “Sing Along”
Simpson stretches his boundaries once again with the upcoming Sound & Fury, his self-described “sleazy, steamy rock & roll record” that will serve as the companion to an anime film of the same name. “Sing Along” gives fans a taste of the two projects, matching the song itself — a burly blast of guitar- and synthesizer-fueled psychedelia, like something Mad Max might’ve cranked on the stereo of his V8 Interceptor — with an animated video full of futuristic battle scenes and larger-than-life, comic-book villains.
Trisha Yearwood, “The Matador”
Written by Gretchen Peters, “The Matador” spins the cinematic, lonely tale of a woman whose bullfighting beau splits his time between home and the arena. “I come to each and every show, the woman in the second row,” she sings sadly, knowing she must share her love for the matador with his adoring fans. It would be easy to trace parallels between the bullfighter and Yearwood’s real-life partner, mega-star Garth Brooks. That said, Yearwood’s newest album — Every Girl, out today — proves she’s every bit her husband’s equal, with a voice that’s as large as the stadiums he routinely sells out.
Miranda Lambert, “Way Too Pretty for Prison” (featuring Maren Morris)
Move over, “Goodbye Earl.” There’s a new murder-revenge fantasy in town. Written with the Love Junkies — the same team that dreamed up Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush” — and recorded with duet partner Maren Morris, “Way Too Pretty for Prison” never takes itself too seriously, from the cacophonous crash of noise that kickstarts the song to the loping, slaphappy groove that pushes the whole thing forward.