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.
The Georgia Thunderbolts, “Looking for an Old Friend”
The Georgia Thunderbolts don’t reinvent the wheel on their upcoming EP (out August 21st), but it’s that familiarity that makes the Peach State five-piece so enticing. “Looking for an Old Friend” sounds like a lost track off the Georgia Satellites’ In the Land of Salvation and Sin, smoothly pairing elements of country and Southern rock with vocalist TJ Lyle’s easygoing croon. “Looking for an old friend that I lost/starting to see that I’ve been gone for so long,” Lyle sings, a reminder that it’s time for him to get back home.
Emily Rose, “Hey Child”
Nashville singer-songwriter Emily Rose offers up a reminder to stay young at heart in “Hey Child,” which will appear on the performer’s debut EP The Heart when it arrives in October. “Don’t you ever lose the song you’re singing/Or ever lose the dance in your feet,” Rose sings in each chorus, her powerful voice anchoring the track alongside big, bright strums of acoustic guitar. Accented by dreamy washes of pedal steel and shuffling drums, the tune has a drifting, free-flowing quality that almost mirrors its message.
Jillette Johnson, “I Shouldn’t Go Anywhere”
“No excuses, they are useless/Pointing blame has proven fruitless,” Jillette Johnson sings in “I Shouldn’t Go Anywhere,” her first new song in three years. Weaving her voice through an opening section of guitar and keys that recalls Radiohead circa The Bends, Johnson works to get free from a bad relationship. The song gradually turns into a spaced-out trip that recalls Harry Nilsson or Elton John at his most decadent, with luxurious chorus harmonies and a lonesome, ambling guitar solo.
Jerrod Niemann, “Tequila Kisses”
Since releasing his breakthrough Judge Jerrod & the Hung Jury a decade ago, Jerrod Niemann has remained one of country music’s most mad scientists. Case in point: his latest release “Tequila Kisses” is entirely a cappella, with Niemann singing 50 different vocal parts. You don’t miss the instruments. Rather, it just makes you curious about what the “Lover, Lover” singer is going to pull out of his hat next.
Eric Paslay, “Nice Guy”
“It don’t pay to be a nice guy, in a bad guy world,” Eric Paslay sings in his new release “Nice Guy,” offering up one hell of an understatement for our Trump-led, influencer-driven present. It’s less of a vicious takedown than gentle ribbing, though — backed by a slyly funky beat, Paslay half speaks, half sings about how he’d like to forgo decency so he can get a little farther in the world, but doesn’t quite sound like he’s ready to go through with it. Penned by Paslay with Craig Wiseman, “Nice Guy” is the title track from the singer’s upcoming album, out August 14th.