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.)
Johnnyswim, “Best Thing Ever”
The husband-and-wife duo of Abner Ramirez and Amanda Sudano-Ramirez deliver unrestrained joy in this hand-clap singalong written for the inspirational film A Week Away. Over finger-picked acoustic guitar and rhythmic touches (like a well-placed “hey!” or two), the band sings about facing fears and emerging empowered. After a year of daily bad news, it’s a message worth hearing. (Johnnyswim will also tell their own story in the upcoming book Home Sweet Road: Finding Love, Making Music, and Building a Life One City at a Time, out June 8th.)
Lily Rose, “Overnight Sensation”
Singer-songwriter Lily Rose’s work has been exploding on streaming platforms and here the Georgia native recounts that journey, “13 years in the making,” to becoming an “Overnight Sensation.” With a warm, soulful vocal tone that has a hint of Kimberly Perry, Rose has a way of making her specific experiences very relatable. “Sometimes I miss the days when I was 17/It wasn’t about the money or singing out of key,” she sings in the biographical ballad, touching on the perseverance and sacrifices she made to get to where she is at present. It’s nice that we’re around to see it paying off in real time.
Justin Hiltner, “Silver Dagger”
In his latest release, singer-songwriter-musician Justin Hiltner puts a queered spin on a pair of songs recorded by Dolly Parton. With his update of the folk song “Silver Dagger,” Hiltner’s nimble banjo playing adds tension to a warning. “All men are fools, so says my mother/They’ll tell you again, love and lies,” he sings, rebuffing a would-be suitor in favor of sleeping alone. Because the only surefire way to not get your heart broken is to never give it away in the first place.
Dani Taylor, “Midnight Cowgirl”
Can rodeo country be making a comeback? Dani Taylor is the latest to celebrate the imagery of the roping-and-riding circuit, joining fellow up-and-comers like Kylie Frey in reviving a niche genre. In “Midnight Cowgirl” — a title that somehow wasn’t yet written on Music Row — Taylor and co-writer Will Rambeaux use Western imagery to paint a picture of a restless woman unable to stop running from commitment. “You don’t have to be a tumbleweed,” Taylor sings in a gentle, dreamy croon. “Pull back on those reins.”
Kasey Anderson and the Honkies, “Some Depression”
Portland songwriter Kasey Anderson sings his guitar picker’s blues in “Some Depression,” a caustic country-rock track that appears on his long-shelved and newly released album Let the Bloody Moon Rise. “You’ve seen Steve Earle 47 times/and you can play ‘Someday’ on the J-45/But you don’t care for those Communist lies/You’d still be voting Reagan if the fucker hadn’t died,” Anderson snarls, while the crackling slide guitar and big drums add to the squall behind him. Potent and peppered with sneaky humor, it’s one worth playing loud.