A gorgeous jazz interpretation of Patsy Cline’s “Walkin’ After Midnight,” a full-throated live cover of Steve Young’s “Seven Bridges Road,” and an Apollo 11 homage make up this week’s list of must-hear tunes.
Staci Griesbach, “Walkin’ After Midnight”
Jazz singer Staci Griesbach pays tribute to Patsy Cline, turning the country legend’s first major hit into a reimagined song better suited to the cocktail lounge than the honky-tonk. Rooted in upright piano, bass, and bursts of saxophone, Griesbach’s “Walkin’ After Midnight” suits the original’s nocturnal theme surprisingly well. Her album My Patsy Cline Songbook arrives August 23rd.
James Levy, “NYC”
Punctuated by wails from Mickey Raphael’s harmonica, James Levy’s “NYC” is a breakup anthem inspired by Levy’s split with the Big Apple. “It’s time to stop fooling around,” he repeats during every verse, steeling himself for the New York departure that would lead him to resettle in Nashville. Straightforward and clutter-free, “NYC” was produced by Paul Defiglia, who toured alongside the Avett Brothers as an auxiliary musician for six years.
Andrew Combs, “Save Somebody Else”
The last time we heard from Andrew Combs, the golden-voiced crooner was tackling songs by the Strokes and Lucinda Williams on the 5 Covers & A Song EP. He’ll return to his original material this September with Ideal Man, an album influenced in part by Combs’ new fascination with painting. To that end, “Save Somebody Else” is an impressionistic swirl of sonic color, mixing double-tracked vocals with twinkling piano, astral guitar leads, and a steadily driving pulse.
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Hugh Masterson, “Trouble”
Masterson gets moody on this advance track from his still-untitled follow-up to 2017’s Lost + Found. Produced by former Lone Bellow member Justin Glasco, “Trouble” mines the emotional wreckage of Masterson’s past — the death of a parent, the grip of depression — and turns it into Americana gold.
Robert Ellis, “Everyone’s Gone to the Moon”
In celebration of Apollo 11, the spaceflight that brought Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the moon 50 years ago, Robert Ellis launches himself into orbit with this weird, wonderful cover of Jonathan King’s mid-Sixties release. The video finds Ellis alone, playing a baby grand in a space-themed sequined suit, channeling the out-there spirit of piano pounders like Elton John.
Miranda Lambert, “Locomotive”
It’s been close to 15 years since Miranda Lambert notched her first Top 20 hit with “Kerosene,” a pummeling, propulsive anthem that laid its cards on the “rock” side of the country-rock divide. With “Locomotive,” she cycles back to where she started. One of two songs released in advance of her upcoming tour, this is a raucous rave-up filled with squealing harmonica, a breakneck tempo, and plenty of piss n’ vinegar.
Leslie Stevens, “Depression, Descent”
The leader of Leslie & the Badgers teams up with super-producer Jonathan Wilson for this unique blast of California twang, delivered with a refreshing lack of concern for Nashville’s reigning trends. Her voice is the stuff of country gold, though, laced with a Dolly Parton-worthy flutter that sounds fragile one moment and emboldened the next.
The Record Company, “You and Me Now”
One year after releasing All of This Life, the Record Company revisits one of the album’s gentler tracks with help from producer T Bone Burnett. The re-recorded “You and Me Now” boasts more backwoods bounce and Southern soul, turning the ballad-ish original into an acoustic singalong for campfires and unplugged concert encores.
Alexa Rose, “Medicine for a Living”
The title track from Alexa Rose’s upcoming debut is a swooning, atmospheric ballad, punctuated by guitarist Will Sexton’s ghostly swells and Rose’s woozy, mountain-woman voice. Raised in Clifton Forge, Virginia, she writes and sings with the conviction of someone who’s spent night after night on the front porch, the Allegheny Mountains in the foreground, spinning details of the day’s hardships into music.
King Calaway with Ricky Skaggs, “Seven Bridges Road”
The boys of King Calaway pay tribute to the Eagles with this densely-harmonized cover of Steve Young’s “Seven Bridges Road,” performed live at the Grand Ole Opry with bluegrass legend Ricky Skaggs. For a new band whose career has been fast-tracked by a major label, this spotless performance is proof that the boys can both sing and play, with the group’s lead guitarist (and youngest member) even going head-to-head with Skaggs during the extended solo section.