Whether it’s coming out of Nashville, New York, L.A., or points in between, there’s no shortage of fresh tunes, especially from artists who have yet to become household names. Rolling Stone Country selects some of the best new music releases from country and Americana artists. (Check out last week’s best songs.)
Tiera featuring Breland, “Miles”
Singer-songwriter Tiera flexes her melodic and vocal muscles on the easygoing new single “Miles,” a duet with the shapeshifting singer Breland, of “My Truck” fame. Rather than trunk-rattling country-trap, it’s blissful folk-pop about falling in love set to a swaying R&B chord progression. Stick around for the mid-song breakdown and its sublime vocal interplay between Tiera, Breland, and their backing choir.
Parker Millsap, “Vulnerable”
The Oklahoma singer-songwriter dives headfirst into trippy, otherworldly sounds on his upcoming album Be Here Instead, out April 9th. Listen to “Vulnerable” for proof, a shimmering dreamlike production that plays like an underwater orchestra. “Sometimes your meekness isn’t a weakness,” Millsap sings, raising the unconventional idea that vulnerability is something to be celebrated. The disarming quaver in his voice drives his point home.
Amy Ray, “Muscadine”
Dog lovers, steel yourselves. Indigo Girls’ Amy Ray delivers a touching tribute to one of her late, great pets in this loping acoustic number, which doubles as a handbook for leaving this world better than we found it. With a simple guitar riff that Ray says came from listening to the music of Brent Cobb, “Muscadine” is both inspiring and tear-jerking. “It’s a country tune about learning to love and receive love in the purest way,” Ray says, “and to not be picky about life, but to stay the course with curiosity and gratitude.”
Israel Nash, “Down in the Country”
The way Texas songwriter Israel Nash blends his big aching voice with electric guitar and stark harmonica in this live performance will haunt your dreams. “Down in the Country,” a track off Nash’s upcoming album Topaz, takes you inside the insular but sometimes harmful bubble of an isolated existence. “We keep to ourselves down on Farm Road 76,” he sings before going on to indict the “Yankee man” who hoodwinked his neighbors. Now, Nash reminds them, “everyone has to pay.”
Fretland, “Too Much”
Washington State trio Fretland, named after singer Hillary Grace Fretland, both celebrate and lament going to extremes in the dreamy “Too Much.” With a guitar lick that calls to mind Creedence’s “Fortunate Son,” the track tees up Fretland’s litany of things she does to excess — including but not limited to drinking too much, dancing too much, and being way too serious (or sometimes not serious enough). It’s a study in contradictions, all tied together by Fretland’s lilting vocal style.
Corb Lund featuring Jaida Dreyer, “Horse Poor”
Canadian country favorites Corb Lund and Jaida Dreyer find their inner Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn on “Horse Poor,” from the deluxe version of Lund’s Agricultural Tragic that’s coming out March 19th. “We’re horse poor, horse poor/I sell one, she buys two more,” the pair sing together, accompanied by some lively honky-tonk. We sometimes forget it used to be called “country & Western,” and this playful number about having too many horses puts the emphasis squarely on the latter.
Olivia Ellen Lloyd, “Sorrow”
Depression sufferers know that it has a way of popping up without warning. West Virginia native Olivia Ellen Lloyd takes a John Prine approach to writing about it, stuffing her wry observations into a lilting waltz and making the disease sound like a bad ex or a nagging odor in the refrigerator — a tenacious, unpredictable nuisance. “I have pretty persistent bouts of depression, and it’s not something I’m always in control of,” Lloyd says. “Just when things seem to be going well, sometimes the cloud of sorrow comes on out of nowhere.”