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.)
Kelsey Waldon, “Fixin’ It Up”
Kelsey Waldon goes way back into her archives for this song written for her 2014 debut The Goldmine. In the end, “Fixin’ It Up” didn’t make the cut, but the Kentucky songwriter wisely returns to it years later, re-recording the pledge to her mother to at least try to live a good life. “There’s a doubt in my heart and a gleam in my eye/but I’m fixing it up mama, and I’m doin it right,” Waldon sings over fiddle and banjo. Released as 7” single with the also previously unheard “Dreaming Woman” as the B-side, The Goldmine Archives are Waldon’s latest music for John Prine’s Oh Boy Records — and she promises that more (new) material is on the way.
Country trio Runaway June regrouped in 2020 with new member Natalie Stovall, and now they’ve put out the new three-song EP Backstory. Among the tracks is the funny, infectious “Forgot About That,” chronicling one of those relationships that keeps sparking long past its usefulness. “Has anybody heard of heartbreak amnesia/’Cause I’m thinkin’ that I got it real bad,” Naomi Cooke sings, backed by stomping, guitar-heavy production that welds sisterly country harmonies to the arena bombast of Def Leppard. Prepare to hear it at your local karaoke bar.
Neal Francis, “Can’t Stop the Rain”
Singer-songwriter Neal Francis captures a sound that’s somewhere between Elton John and Little Feat on “Can’t Stop the Rain,” the first single from his upcoming ATO Records album In Plain Sight. Stinging slide guitar by Derek Trucks plays against rolling, funky piano licks, while Francis just lets the troubles of this world roll off his shoulder. “It’s always gonna fall, but you’re not gonna drown,” he sings, and for four minutes, his tune will keep you afloat.
Bexar, “Key to Life”
Country band Bexar’s name is, as its upcoming EP states, Pronounced Bear. The single “Key to Life” is an amiable slice of folk-pop with hints of the Lumineers and Avett Brothers. Backed by punchy acoustic guitar strums, singer Chris Ryan and his vocal partner Logan Turner offer some thoughts about the benefits of slowing down and enjoying the moment rather than trying to pile up material wealth. It’s a good one to play if you need a reminder that the journey is taking you someplace, even if you’re not sure where just yet.
Old Dominion have quietly turned into country stars over the last couple years and they’ll release their new album Time, Tequila & Therapy on October 8th. Their latest preview of the project is a largely acoustic number that imparts some advice about women. In short? It’s best to err on the side of making sure she’s happy and not trying to prove you know everything or, as Matthew Ramsey sings, “It’s like ‘Yeah baby,’ ‘No baby,’ ‘Whatever you want baby’/Whatever it is, is my fault.”