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.
Shemekia Copeland, “Uncivil War”
Blues queen Shemekia Copeland recruits bluegrass greats Sam Bush and Jerry Douglas for this rootsy message song about the divided states of America. “Lines are drawn, gloves are off/smiles are gone, we’re all talking tough,” she sings, as Bush and Douglas summon tension with their respective mandolin and dobro licks. Copeland’s gospel vocal, with harmonies from the Orphan Brigade, is there to soothe and defuse, reminding us that it’s time to listen to one another and, ultimately, come together.
The War and Treaty, “We Are One”
The War and Treaty offer an uplifting plea for unity in the new song “We Are One,” which the duo of Michael Trotter and Tanya Blount-Trotter released to benefit the American Civil Liberties Union. Over a simple piano progression, Michael and Tanya take turns with verses before intertwining their voices, as a chorus of hundreds joins them for the powerful, spine-tingling finish. The video also features cameo appearances by musicians such as Valerie June, Hunter Hayes, and Maggie Rose.
Shy Carter, “Good Love”
The songwriter behind hits for Charlie Puth (“One Call Away”) and Sugarland (“Stuck Like Glue”) kick-starts his own country career with the irrepressible “Good Love,” a breezy sing-along about the redemptive power of compassion. “Yeah, you pick me up,” Carter sings against a hi-hat rhythm, raising both his profile and our spirits in the process.
Tré Burt, “Undead God of War”
Singer-songwriter Tré Burt taps into a bit of early Bob Dylan’s stripped-down aesthetic on “Undead God of War,” singing a powerful hymn of protest accompanied only by acoustic guitar and harmonica. But Burt, whose album Caught It From the Rye was released earlier in 2020 by John Prine’s Oh Boy Records, fearlessly addresses how unfettered capitalism in the U.S. is still propping up a racist system that devalues his life. “And Mother Nature, I guess she caters/To those with white skin,” he sings, castigating a nation where things haven’t changed nearly enough.
Kyle Nix, “Josephine”
Ethereal steel, a simply strummed acoustic guitar, and the plaintive voice of Kyle Nix announce “Josephine,” a tale of a “psychedelic dream” on the Oklahoma singer-musician’s debut solo album Lightning on the Mountain & Other Short Stories. It’s far from a boot-gazing song, however — a pair of muscular electric guitar solos give it verve, proving that Nix, the longtime fiddle player in Turnpike Troubadours, is just as powerful under his own name as he is with the band.