A new release from a Nineties kingpin, a nod to the traditional from a rising star and some retro-pop from a Lumineer make up the songs you need to hear this week.
Joe Diffie, “Quit You”
Joe Diffie has fallen off the love wagon, unable to resist the pull of an addictive relationship. “I can crush it out, pour it down the drain, give up my vices, curse your name,” he sings, rattling off a number of defenses that, in the end, can’t convince him to quit the one he loves. Just two months shy of his 60th birthday, the “John Deere Green” star sings like a man reborn, flexing the same beefy baritone that serenaded radio fans during the Nineties. Up next: a full-length album, I Got This, due next spring.
Ariel Posen, “Things That I’ve Said”
Between gigs as a member of roots-rockers the Brothers Landreth, Posen pieced together the songs for his own album of heartland soul. Here, he comes across like a laidback Springsteen, building an anthemic groove during the verse before singing the slacker blues during every chorus. “I don’t feel so rough when I don’t measure up to the things that I’ve said,” he says, punctuating the mood with slide guitar.
Kip Moore, “Tennessee Boy”
Kip Moore sings about the simple steps that lead to love, while acoustic guitars and a kick-drummed stomp keeps everything boiling at an epic simmer. As influenced by Mumford & Sons’ unplugged barn-burners as Tunnel of Love‘s Eighties nostalgia, “Tennessee Boy” is an anthemic song of the South, with Moore promoting the pleasures of moonshine, pot and lovemaking along the way.
Vera Sola, “The Colony”
This is the sort of song that Quentin Tarantino soundtracks are made for: coolly retro and rooted in spaghetti-western desert soul. Having already logged a number of years in Elvis Perkins’ band, Vera Sola makes her solo debut with this month’s Shades, an album that features its creator on every instrument. “The Colony” is one of the record’s highlights, with lyrics inspired by Sola’s time assisting the Dakota Access Pipeline protestors at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. For fans of: Nancy Sinatra, Nicole Atkins and civil disobedience.
Boy Named Banjo, “Feel for You”
A four-on-the-floor drumbeat runs beneath this high-energy stomper, which mixes a raga-influenced banjo riff with a mighty, meteoric chorus. Come for the string-band bombast; stay for the layered vocals, which add heft and harmony to the song’s refrain. Produced by Oscar Charles, “Feel for You” is the first taste of Boy Named Banjo’s still-untitled follow-up to the 2016 EP Lost on Main.
William Michael Morgan, “Brokenhearted”
“Ain’t nobody brokenhearted in country music anymore,” Morgan laments, mourning the loss of classic, tear-stained country hits in today’s world of party-hearty bro bluster. Behind him, the band digs deep into the genre’s old-school sound, layering on the fiddle, pedal steel and honky-tonk instrumentation. A neo-traditionalist single for a modern world.
Neyla Pekarek, “Train”
After launching her career as the Lumineers’ only female member, Pekarek sheds her skin and kicks off a solo career with this year’s Rattlesnake, a concept album about Wild West folk hero Rattlesnake Kate. “Train” is the record’s kickoff single, diversifying the retro-pop punch found in the Shangri-Las’ “Train From Kansas City” with barbershop harmonies and Cole Porter-worthy chord changes.
Courtney Hartman and Taylor Ashton, “Wayside”
“Wayside” is the opening number from Been on Your Side, a collection of original Americana duets performed by Della Mae’s Courtney Hartman and Fish & Bird’s Taylor Ashton. A showcase not only for their entwined vocals, but also their instrumental chops, the song mixes clawhammer banjo and acoustic guitar with a storyline about avoiding obstacles and staying the course. It’s stark one minute and lovely the next — an old-school folk song that still packs a punch in today’s mainstream.
Aoife O’Donovan, “Are You There”
This gentle, swooning folk ballad was written for the Hilary Swank film What They Had, with lyrics by director Elizabeth Chomko and co-writing assistance from both O’Donovan and Chomko’s mother. Recorded within several weeks of the birth of O’Donovan’s first child, this is a song for mothers, daughters and the bonds that tie them together, shot through with crystalline vocals and the lightest thread of orchestral accompaniment.
Michael Tyler, “Remember These Words”
A simple, straightforward love song, “Remember These Words” finds Michael Tyler pledging his love and loyalty over a backdrop of banjo, guitar and brushed percussion. “Lover, hit me with your midnight thunder, hold me with the spell I’m under,” he sings, crooning directly to the woman who doubles as his muse.