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.)
Joey Cape, “It Could Be Real”
We have a soft spot for punk singers who go quiet Americana — there’s something irresistible about turning down the volume and swagger, and amping up the insecurity and introspection. Joey Cape, singer for California vets Lagwagon, sounds downright crushed on “It Could Be Real,” a hushed ballad in which he wonders, at 54, if he’s ever going to be cut out for a lasting relationship. “I can be cool, I can get a haircut/I can adhere, I can keep my mouth shut,” Cape sings, voicing not just his worry about assimilating into a relationship, but — after a year of social-distancing — assimilating back into society. His new album, A Good Year to Forget, arrives August 13th.
Brit Taylor featuring Dee White, “At Least There’s No Babies”
Brit Taylor and Dee White are a couple fracturing apart in “At Least There’s No Babies,” a track from Taylor’s upcoming Real Me Deluxe. Alabama singer-songwriter White harmonizes beautifully with Taylor in the mournful tune, where the two people try to find the silver lining in seeking divorce. The upside? No kids to make things extra messy, only, as they sing, “a ring and some paper, nothing we can’t undo.”
Roseanne Reid, “Passing Through”
Singer-guitarist Roseanne Reid is crafting gorgeous Americana songs in her home country of Scotland. On “Passing Through,” she sings about unshakeable simple pleasures, from a hot cup of coffee to a scenic view. Reid reveled in such minutiae during lockdown, performing livestream shows in her home’s garden, a setting that inspired her new EP, Horticulture. Out on vinyl on June 25th, it’s a record that finds Reid — the daughter of the Proclaimers’ Craig Reid — celebrating the healing power of nature.
Jack Shields, “I Kidnapped Willie Nelson”
With a bad mustache and an eye for the eccentric, California songwriter Jack Shields cold-cocks and kidnaps a country music legend in this deranged bluegrass romp. The accompanying video is just as outrageous, as Shields indulges in a Misery-like fantasy to get Ol’ Willie to listen to his songs. His method? A baseball bat across the leg. “I never knew an old man’s femur would be my lucky break,” he sings, a line destined for the Play on Words Hall of Fame. Such cleverness is what keeps “I Kidnapped Willie Nelson” from descending into novelty, and the twist ending only reinforces that Shields isn’t afraid of sacrificing a sacred cow.
The High Hawks, “Singing a Mountain Song”
The High Hawks feature members of Leftover Salmon, Railroad Earth, and Hard Working Americans, and they make expansive roots-rock in the vein of the Grateful Dead. Their latest release is “Singing a Mountain Song,” a breezy bit of jam-rock that extolls the pleasures of music and togetherness, augmented by some sprightly fiddle and dual guitar solos. The group’s self-titled debut arrives June 11th.