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.)
Zach Schmidt, “I Can’t Dance”
Nashville-by-way-of-Pittsburgh songwriter Zach Schmidt is backed by members of Jason Isbell’s 400 Unit on his upcoming album Raise a Banner, produced by 400 Unit guitarist Sadler Vaden (who also turned the knobs for Morgan Wade’s anticipated debut). Schmidt offers a taste of the sprawling Raise a Banner, due April 16th, with this nimble heartland-rock number that belies its title. It’s not two left feet Schmidt is reckoning with, but the cold hard truth: he knows he’s nothing without his lover.
Caroline Jones, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)”
Caroline Jones follows in the grand tradition of country kiss-offs like “Blame It on Your Heart” and “Walk On Out of My Mind” with this cleverly titled barn-burner, which welcomes a suitor’s advances, but only to a degree: “‘Cause I don’t know if I’m gonna like you for long,” Jones warns with a hint of Shania. A frequent tourmate of Zac Brown and Jimmy Buffett, Jones (who is also a fleet-fingered guitarist) is working on her second album, the follow-up to 2018’s Bare Feet.
Ida Mae, featuring Marcus King, “Click Click Domino”
Husband-wife duo Ida Mae have announced their new album Click Click Domino for July 16th and its title track is a scorcher. With guitar assistance from shred wizard Marcus King, the tune is a heaving mass of scuzzy blues-rock riffs and thunderous drums that indicts social media for its isolating, alienating effects. “Pretty as a cupcake/Cheap as a deep fake, come on,” snarl Chris and Stephanie Jean Turpin in eerie harmony. Somewhere, Jack White is busy looking for new amp settings.
Kyle Daniel, “Hollerin’ Hills”
Last fall, Kyle Daniel took his band to Muscle Shoals to tap into the musical magic of the region and emerged with a record that mixes his Kentucky country vibes with Allmans soul. There’s no release date just yet, but he’s been teasing stripped-down versions of key tracks, including the devastating hard-times lament “Hollerin’ Hills.” Here, Daniel’s husky voice takes center stage as he paints a bleak picture of what happens to a community when the work dries up. “Lost all the jobs, but still getting bills,” he preaches, “and can’t see the doctor/cause ya can’t pay for pills.”
Esther Rose, “Songs Remain”
“I am glad it was you who broke my heart,” admits Esther Rose in “Songs Remain,” a smart dissertation on what we learn from the busted relationships that litter our past. According to the New Orleans songwriter, elements of those ex-loves — like the “country boy through and through” she addresses here — live on. Backed by simple acoustic guitar, Rose exudes confidence and she’s unafraid to get self-referential. “You may not know a wild rose,” she sings, “but she needs a lot of room to grow.” Her latest album, How Many Times, arrives March 26th.
Adeem the Artist, “Cast-Iron Pansexual”
Adeem the Artist is a Knoxville, Tennessee-based singer-songwriter and their debut album Cast-Iron Pansexual lives up to its title with explorations of sexuality and gender expression that are equally clever and poignant. On the album’s banjo-driven title track, Adeem stakes out their place as a born Southerner armed with a radical outlook and a brain that won’t just ease up. “I’m a Marxist marching on oligarchs and a connoisseur of cornbread,” they sing, envisioning the path to a South that’s made for all of us.