Fresh tracks from Blanco Brown, Mike and the Moonpies and Dillon Carmichael are among the must-hear country and Americana offerings this week.
Don DiLego, “Your Great Escape”
A longtime collaborator of New York staple Jesse Malin, Don DiLego makes his own kind of big-city alt-country music. On “Your Great Escape,” he grapples with the departure of a former flame whose memory still burns brightly. He’s angry one minute and nostalgic the next, promising his ex that he’ll “always wish you well. . .on your long, long ride through hell.” As the song’s swelling guitars and harmonized vocals find their way toward a close, though, he offers an olive branch, promising to “make it right” if the departed ever returns.
Joan Shelley, “Coming Down for You”
Recorded in Iceland, Joan Shelley’s newest single mixes Americana warmth with wintry gusts of banjo and guitar. Understated drums help move the song forward at a casual clip, while out-of-time vocal harmonies from Shelley’s longtime collaborator, Bonnie “Prince” Billy, keep things leisurely loose.
Mike and the Moonpies, “You Look Good in Neon”
A throwback track fit for a slow dance at a 1980s honky-tonk, “You Look Good in Neon” scratches the same nostalgic itch as Midland’s “Drinkin’ Problem.” There’s steel guitar, synthesized strings and a smooth vocal delivery, all wrapped into a leisurely tribute to last calls and barroom romance.
Don Gallardo & Lilly Winwood, “Shine a Light on Me”
Two East Nashville luminaries join forces on this easygoing duet, which finds folksinger Don Gallardo trading harmonies with Lilly Winwood (the daughter of Steve). The optimistic message is straightforward and the music follows suit, mixing a loping chord progression with barroom piano and bursts of Dixieland brass.
Trisha Yearwood, “Every Girl in This Town”
Already a hit on the country charts, “Every Girl in This Town” finds Trisha Yearwood teeing up her first record of original music since 2007. An enthusiastic call to young females with big dreams and lofty goals, the song is a showcase for Yearwood’s supersized voice, which remains undiminished by the 28 years that follow her career-launching smash “She’s in Love with the Boy.”
Blanco Brown, “The Git Up”
“Gonna do the two-step then cowboy boogie,” Blanco Brown announces at the beginning of “The Git Up,” which doubles as a step-by-step country/rap instructional and a nice companion piece to Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road.” Already a viral hit, the song is a prime example of Brown’s so-called “trailer trap” song, which mixes the country influences of his Bible Belt childhood with Auto-Tuned vocals, hip-hop percussion and Southern swag.
Ty Herndon, “What Mattered Most”
An updated version of a 24-year-old song, Ty Herndon’s reimagined “What Matters Most” changes the pronouns from the singer’s career-launching 1995 hit. The result is an open-minded ballad that makes no attempt to hide Herndon’s sexual orientation. “His eyes are blue, his hair is long,” sings the crooner, who came out publicly in 2014.
Dillon Carmichael, “I Do for You”
Leave it to love to make a mess of our personal preferences. On the uptempo “I Do for You,” Carmichael casts aside the worn-out habits of his youth — drinking too much, leaving his beard untrimmed, skipping church on Sunday mornings — and becomes a new man worthy of his bride-to-be. Co-written by the Kentucky native, this song serves as another showcase for the crooner’s deep, Randy Travis-sized voice.
Tanya Tucker, “The Wheels of Laredo”
Tanya Tucker teams up with Brandi Carlile for “The Wheels of Laredo,” a politically poignant song that examines illegal immigration from both sides of the American/Mexican border. Carlile wrote the song with bandmates Tim and Phil Hanseroth, but it’s Tucker’s voice — an instrument that’s become gracefully worn with age, able to wring emotion from each syllable — that turns these wheels. While I’m Livin‘, Tucker’s first album in nearly two decades, arrives in August.
Maybe April, “Need You Now”
No, this isn’t a Lady Antebellum cover. Instead, Maybe April’s “Need You Now” is a bright, summery salute to new love, laced with light touches of banjo and syncopated percussion. Bandmates Katy DuBois and Alaina Stacey share lead duties throughout, harmonizing their way through a song whose emphasis on togetherness could easily double as a message of sisterhood. “Need You Now” is one of two lead singles from the pair’s debut, The Other Side, which appears on August 9th.
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