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.)
Sunny War, “Mama’s Milk”
Folk-punk singer-songwriter Sunny War suffers no fools in the charmingly loose “Mama’s Milk” from the upcoming album Simple Syrup, out March 26th. “I’ll spit ya back up again/Like ya did mamma’s milk/Musta thought I’d feed ya/I’ll spit ya back up again/For the win for the kill boy,” she sings in a rapid, free-associative tumble of words, accompanied by some inventive, serpentine lead guitar licks and a melancholy sax solo.
Triston Marez with Ronnie Dunn, “Where the Neon Lies”
The Nineties country appreciation continues apace with Houston singer Triston Marez doing his best Brooks & Dunn on the brokenhearted ballad “Where the Neon Lies.” Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Ronnie Dunn actually sprinkles some of his “Neon Moon” magic on the song by adding harmonies and a verse to the proceedings. For most artists, singing next to the golden-throated Dunn would be asking to develop an inferiority complex — to his credit, Marez is up to the task. He’ll release his self-titled debut album on April 16th.
Amy Helm, “Breathing”
“Check your breathing, slow your breathing/Down in time with mine,” Amy Helm asks of someone in “Breathing,” from the singer-songwriter’s upcoming album What the Flood Leaves Behind. Built on a brittle, funky rhythm and punctuated with ghostly B3 organ and horns that would sound at home on a Sharon Jones album, it’s part urgent plea, part mysterious flirtation carried by Helm’s soulful voice and the spacious production from Josh Kaufman.
Chapel Hart, “You Can Have Him Jolene”
Dolly Parton’s immortal “Jolene” continues to inspire new works decades after it was released. Mississippi family trio Chapel Hart put a new spin on the story in “You Can Have Him Jolene,” singing about a union in jeopardy and its acrimonious end. “I spent so much time believin’ that that midnight phone would stop ringin’/But he’d leave the room and answer every time,” Danica Hart sings, while the band lays down some punchy, uptempo country-rock riffs. Her solution? Dump the dude and let the infamous redhead be the one to deal with him.
Mike Miz, “Virginia”
Nashville transplant Mike Miz releases a monster of a jam-rocker that, like the Stones did decades before him, pins an irresistible melody to one of rock’s most pined-after three-syllable names. “Virginia” floats along on barroom piano, snaking guitar leads, and fiery harmonies from guest Nicki Bluhm, who parries with Miz over their half-hearted relationship. “It’s the middle of the night, I’m peacing out,” Miz sings to her, “’cause I got nothing left inside to give ya.” He’s lying though: The Pennsylvania native has a blistering guitar solo that he’s just waiting to unleash in the song’s final minute.