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.
Canaan Smith, “Colder Than You”
After a few hits and an occasional misfire, Canaan Smith finds his country voice on the deliberately stripped-down new song “Colder Than You.” “For me, it all started with a hand-me-down acoustic. I’ve always felt like the best songs are the ones that hold up with just a guitar,” he says. Smith gets back to basics in an accompanying video too, lighting out for a lost weekend in the woods to forget the woman who dared tell him to “turn down the Merle.”
Ian Fisher, “American Standards”
American expat Ian Fisher returns to his Midwest home state for the guerilla-style video for “American Standards,” a cheeky nod to both the toilet manufacturer and our decaying U.S. values. The clip is a hoot, with Fisher, who’s lived in Europe for the past decade, knocking on doors to spread a message of “Make It Flush Again” — a kinder, gentler way of ridding ourselves of “a president who proverbially defecates daily on the democratic and moral standards I was conditioned to associate with the idea of America,” Fisher says. By song’s all end, he has a realization: “You know it was never built to last.” The scary part is he may be right.
Liv Charette, “Bulletproof”
Canadian powerhouse vocalist Liv Charette follows up her debut single “That Kind of Song” with the grand Eighties vibes of “Bulletproof.” Big and brash, it’s about “the aftermath of love gone wrong,” as Charette sings in the opening verse. Her voice soars, as she wrestles with both her own pain and the harsh truth that she’s hurting more than her ex.
Clint Roberts, “Nero’s Waltz”
North Carolina artist Clint Roberts takes a satirical, darkly comic look at the collapse of civilization in “Nero’s Waltz,” the first release from his upcoming debut album. With a piano-driven roots-rock sound that should appeal to fans of Bruce Hornsby and Bob Dylan alike, Roberts examines the various means of control and people in power exerting their will on everyone else. “We don’t like the truth so we’ve made it our own,” he sings at one point. It’s a particularly resonant message at this moment in time, but it would have worked just as well 20, 30, or 50 years ago.
Caitlyn Smith featuring Old Dominion, “I Can’t”
Caitlyn Smith is joined by the award-winning group Old Dominion on “I Can’t,” a track from the deluxe edition of her second album Supernova. Old Dominion’s leader Matthew Ramsey proves himself a good foil for powerhouse vocalist Smith in the breakup tune, which moves at a relaxed pace and leans heavily on lonely, late-night atmosphere for its production. “Everything around me keeps changing, but I can’t, I can’t,” the two sing, acknowledging the difficulty of letting go.