10 Best Country and Americana Songs to Hear Now: Tyler Childers, Ashton Shepherd
Tyler Childers offers the first taste of his upcoming album with “House Fire,” Lady Antebellum are haunted by memories in “What If I Never Get Over You” and Ashton Shepherd stays strong in “This Heart Won’t Break,” plus more must-hear songs for this week.
Ashton Shepherd, “This Heart Won’t Break”
The title track from Shepherd’s new album is a mid-tempo salute to resilience and resolve. “You’ve gotta keep your faith and stay strong, even when everything else in your life is going wrong,” she sings over power chords and mandolin, her Alabama accent coloring every last line.
Julie Roberts, “I Couldn’t Make You Love Me”
Julie Roberts delivers a classic story of unrequited love, her vocals sharing the spotlight with orchestral strings, cinematic percussion, and a choir of backup singers. With lyrics written by John Bettis — the man behind Whitney Houston’s power ballad for the 1988 Summer Olympics, “One Moment in Time” — “I Couldn’t Make You Love Me” doubles down on Hollywood-worthy heartache.
Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, “Bad Case“
Lukas Nelson is no stranger to the titans of 20th-century popular music. The son of Willie Nelson (and, recently, the bandmate of Neil Young), he channels the Traveling Wilburys’ galloping country-rock stomp with this track from the upcoming Turn Off the News (Build a Garden).
Lady Antebellum, “What If I Never Get Over You”
After a two-year break from the studio, Lady Antebellum return with another power ballad that revisits the trio’s patented heartbreak-and-harmonies combo. Charles Kelley and Hillary Scott both sing their own verses, with Dave Haywood’s voice thickening the mix during each chorus. Delivered from the perspective of two former lovers, “What If I Never Get Over You” plays out like the sequel to “I Need You Now,” focusing upon the heartache and sad nostalgia that follows a breakup.
Tyler Childers, “House Fire”
With another album of Appalachian Americana due out this summer, Tyler Childers is rolling out new material, much of which has already been road-tested during the singer’s nonstop, sold-out shows in support of his 2017 breakthrough, Purgatory. On “House Fire,” he updates the bluegrass sounds of his native Kentucky with electricity and roots-rock stomp, nodding to past traditions without sacrificing the present.
Mavis Staples with Ben Harper, “We Get By”
A gospel song about tenacity and togetherness, “We Get By” moves slowly and reverently, guided by a chord progression that nods to songs like “People Get Ready.” Staples and Harper trade verses throughout, but the real fireworks begin when they sing together — a move that drives home the song’s message.
Keith Urban, “We Were“
Sounding like the power-ballad soundtrack to the finale of some fictional teen drama on the CW network, Urban’s “We Were” hits all the right marks, mixing teenage nostalgia with a low-key, epic sweep. Ryan Tyndell, Jeff Hyde and Eric Church penned the song together, evoking the same anthemic atmosphere as one of their previous co-writes: Church’s mega-hit “Springsteen.”
Delbert McClinton, “If I Hock My Guitar”
Barely topping the two-minute mark, “If I Hock My Guitar” is short, sly and swaggering, mixing a strut-worthy groove with plenty of fretwork fireworks. McClinton, now 78 years old, sings the song in a bluesy belt that’s only grown more complex with age, spinning the story of a down-and-out musician who’s considering a trip to the pawn shop to trade his instrument for cash.
Mara Connor & Langhorne Slim, “Someone New”
Mara Connor runs into an ex at a party and sadly realizes he’s moved on, even though she’s stuck in the past of their togetherness. Performed as a duet with Langhorne Slim and released via the newly launched label Side Hustle, “Someone New” is an airy, atmospheric breakup ballad that examines romantic wreckage from both sides of the split.
Ian Noe, “Between the Country”
An old-school folkie cut from the same cloth as Colter Wall, Ian Noe sings about the desperation, listlessness and True Detective-worthy eeriness of his homeland — Eastern Kentucky, where Tyler Childers also grew up — on the songwriter’s debut album. The record’s title track, “Between the Country,” sets the scene, pitting Noe’s Dylan-esque voice against an acoustic guitar and a violent narrative fit for a Denis Johnson short story.
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