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 our most recent list.)
Caleb Lee Hutchinson, “Slot Machine Syndrome”
American Idol season 16 runner-up Caleb Lee Hutchinson recorded his new EP Slot Machine Syndrome with Brent Cobb, and it arrives September 17th. The project’s title track shows a more grown-up, more defined talent, blessed with a gritty baritone that has some shades of Sturgill Simpson. The title tune is a three-quarter time ballad with lots of walking bass and guitar lines, about a guy who “feels just fine, puttin’ it on the line” when it comes to gambling with his heart. Read ‘em, as they say, and weep.
Riddy Arman, “Too Late to Write a Love Song”
Riddy Arman evokes the late, great Glen Campbell with “Too Late to Write a Love Song,” a track from the singer-songwriter’s upcoming self-titled debut, which arrives September 10th. “Moved around from our old home, it felt too wrong with you gone,” she sings, reverberating through the spacious arrangement as she mends from a breakup. The music swells around her with grandeur, and a chorus of voices backs her up, but Arman cuts through it all with the lonesome tear in her voice.
Clare Dunn has rightly gotten a lot of attention for being a great guitarist, sometimes overshadowing the fact that she’s also one hell of a singer. Exhibit: Dunn’s new single “Holding Out for a Cowboy,” which puts a soulful groove underneath Dunn’s wishes for a “strong and silent type.” In the chorus, Dunn recalls the gritty tone of Bonnie Raitt or Pink as she ascends her notes like a staircase, then leaps off of them for a dazzling pirouette back down.
Jesse Malin, “Tall Black Horses”
“Everybody gets hurt,” Jesse Malin says. “It’s part of the journey.” The Gotham songwriter encourages you to keep on riding nonetheless in his gorgeous new song “Tall Black Horses.” “Ride on through, on those tall black horses,” he sings. “All you need is a little protection.” More in line with the material on his 2003 breakout The Fine Art of Self Destruction and 2019’s Sunset Kids than the gritty rock fare of past albums like 2015’s Outsiders, “Tall Black Horses” appears on what Malin is calling the “Roots Side” of an upcoming double album, Sad and Beautiful World — named, naturally, after a line in director Jim Jarmusch’s Down by Law.
Brandy Zdan, “Protector”
Canadian-born, Nashville-based Brandy Zdan gives herself the freedom to revisit childhood wounds in this gentle admonition to the protective side of her being — “So I could…deal with some grief and pain,” she says. While “Protector” may be personal therapy for Zdan, for the listener it’s a lo-fi dream, highlighted by her airy vocal delivery and a supple, reassuring guitar solo. The guitarist will release her new album Falcon October 29th.
RC & the Ambers, “Gravy and Biscuits”
Turnpike Troubadours bassist RC Edwards and collaborator Amber Watson team up for the wildly fun side project RC & the Ambers, a cosmic-country collective that is equal parts Burrito Brothers, the Band and Mungo Jerry. In the hip-shaking “Gravy and Biscuits,” the group extol the virtues of running away from home for love, for music, or just for a good time. “I was whistling Dixieland in a punk rock bar with a bluegrass band,” Edwards sings in a helluva opening line. But there’s eclectic musical muscle behind the playful lyrics too — thanks to a band that includes upright bass, mandolin and a “zydeco rub board.” Their debut LP Big Country arrives in September.