Yola, “Faraway Look”
Produced by Dan Auerbach, this country-soul showcase is cut from the same cloth as Petula Clark’s “Downtown,” with orchestral strings that swoon and a retro-minded chorus that would have likely earned a standing ovation from Ed Sullivan’s studio audience. Coupled with the previousl -released “Ride Out in the Country,” the song helps whip up more buzz for Yola’s upcoming debut, Walk Through Fire.
Vandoliers, “Cigarettes in the Rain”
“Holding on to them good ol’ days is like smoking cigarettes in the rain,” sings Joshua Fleming on this breakup-inspired power ballad. An alt-country anthem for the heartbroken and nicotine-addicted, “Cigarettes in the Rain” officially hits stores next month as part of Vandoliers’ Blooshot Records debut, Forever.
Amelia White, “Rhythm of the Rain”
Written in the midst of a European tour that kept her overseas during much of the 2016 U.S. presidential race, “Rhythm of the Rain” — the title track from Amelia White’s newest release — is the songwriter’s attempt to find a moment of zen in an increasingly maddening world. Driving home the song’s central image is the steady pitter-patter of a drum loop, which wouldn’t be out of place on an early Sheryl Crow record.
Jared Deck, “Great American Breakdown”
Has the American Dream turned into a modern nightmare? Raised in small-town Oklahoma, Jared Deck channels the pissed-off, politically-minded punch of John Mellencamp, Steve Earle and other heartland-rock greats on this track, which explores the dark underside of the American Dream in rural America.
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Maren Morris, “Girl”
One year after topping Billboard’s dance chart with “The Middle,” Maren Morris keeps the country-crossover party going with “Girl.” The lead single from her upcoming sophomore release, the song finds Morris giving herself a pep talk in the mirror. It’s as an empowerment anthem not only for its creator, but for women everywhere, with an R&B-accented melody worthy of Alicia Keys and a bridge that nods to Beyoncé’s “Halo.”
Gangstagrass, “Keep Talking”
Hip-hop percussion meets bluegrass instrumentation on this live track, which was recorded during a Gangstagrass concert in St. Louis. Banjo arpeggios and flourishes of fiddle are tucked between the song’s rapped verses, creating a bridge between two seemingly disparate genres. The collective will release their live LP Pocket Full of Fire on February 15th.
Patty Griffin, “River”
On her first album since battling breast cancer, Patty Griffin reflects upon a life filled with charms and challenges. “River,” the self-titled album’s first single, finds Griffin shining a light on her own determination to keep flowing downstream. Shot through with bluesy vocal runs and Southern soulfulness, this is Griffin at her best: moody, melodic and proudly unbroken.
Caroline Spence, “Mint Condition”
A member of Nashville’s indie-folk underground for years, Caroline Spence goes pro with this year’s Mint Condition, her debut release for Rounder Records. The album’s title track finds its road-weary creator promising her partner a kind of love that’s pure and untarnished, with backup vocals from none other than Emmylou Harris.
Jade Bird, “I Get No Joy”
It’s been two years since Jade Bird released her career-launching EP, Something American, and the raspy-voiced Brit is ready for her full-length debut. “I Get No Joy” — with its tongue-twisting chorus and easygoing bounce — is the first release from her upcoming self-titled album, which hits stores one month after the March kickoff date of her American tour with Hozier. For a song about dissatisfaction, “I Get No Joy” is remarkably bright.
Caleb Elliott, “Makes Me Wonder”
For years, Caleb Elliott has built his reputation as one of the Bible Belt’s go-to sidemen, touring with artists like Nicole Atkins while also writing string arrangements for the Muscle Shoals-based label Single Lock Records. Here, he doubles down on his solo career with a song that blends the cool strut of a 1970s film soundtrack with orchestral flourishes and a steady, unhurried groove.