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.
Ross Cooper, “South of the Angels”
Bona fide cowboy Ross Cooper pays tribute to his remote slice of West Texas in this moody new ballad off his upcoming album Chasing Old Highs, due February 26th. Cooper’s voice is defiant and haunting as he praises the resilience of his neighbors, who never met a devil they couldn’t tame. “It feels like home in a hell,” the former bronc rider sings of his gritty stomping grounds, “but we’re still here, south of the angels.”
Lucero, “Outrun the Moon”
Memphis-rock lifers Lucero announced their upcoming album When You Found Me (coming January 29th) last week with this gem of a track that polishes up their rough-hewn sound. Over snaking guitar leads and a hypnotic Eighties rhythm, frontman Ben Nichols twangs and growls his way through imagery-lyrics about a girl who goes on the lam to escape a bad relationship — and what she did to end it.
Luke Dick featuring Miranda Lambert, “Polyester”
Luke Dick’s autobiographical documentary Red Dog recalls the songwriter’s childhood in and around an Oklahoma strip club and his circuitous journey to music business success. “Polyester,” from the film’s soundtrack, is a country-pop banger that describes transcending, but never forgetting, one’s origins. “Aw hell, look at you now/Got your first comma in your bank account,” he sings. Frequent Dick collaborator Miranda Lambert — he co-wrote her recent hit “Bluebird” — also stops by for a superstar cameo on the second verse.
Charlie Overbey, “Ode to John Prine”
Punk-rock honky-tonker Charlie Overbey delivers a rousing tribute to the late John Prine, dreaming of one last night out to see the songwriter onstage. But the rootsy rocker is also an indictment of the Covid response, with the L.A. cult figure blasting conspiracy theorists. “It made me so concerned and then angry at the amount of people that were non-believers, claiming it was all a hoax,” Overbey says. “People in our circle started getting sick, then we lost John…I had to find a way to process the grief and frustration.” The result is this all-star jam (with guitarist Jimmy Vivino, drummer Steve Ferrone, Foo Fighters’ Rami Jaffee, the Stones’ Darryl Jones, and the passionate backing vocals of the singer LP) benefiting NIVA.
Jaime Wyatt, “Rattlesnake Girl”
Originally recorded for 2020’s Neon Cross, Jaime Wyatt’s “Rattlesnake Girl” was a raucous celebration of individuality and self-acceptance that dovetailed with her own coming out. In a newly released version, the Nashville-via-California singer strips it down to its basics, slowing it down and inadvertently underscoring how exhausting it is to fight for your freedom. The accompanying video drives the message home, featuring vintage footage of Pride marches, homoerotic cinema, and ecstatic gay dance clubs.
The Kernal, “U Do U”
Country outsider the Kernal takes a colorful page of gospel-tinged country-funk out of the Jerry Reed playbook in “U Do U,” cooking up an engrossing story about a narcissist who finds trouble a little too easily. “How long since you loved somebody, a little more than you do you?” the Kernal sings in the chorus, accompanied by a come-to-Jesus choir. A good chunk of us could stand to be listening right about now.