Elvie Shane, 'County Roads': Song You Need to Know - Rolling Stone
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Elvie Shane’s Coming-of-Age Anthem ‘County Roads’ Delivers With Distorted Guitar and a Sneer

The Kentucky country singer teaches “lessons that don’t come cheap” in this Song You Need to Know

Aside from maybe cold beer and hot wings, or blue jeans and work boots, few things pair as well together as a distorted riff and a sneering lyric. Elvie Shane knows this and wisely uses the one-two punch to announce his new single. Remember the first time you heard Eric Church’s “How ‘Bout You”? “County Roads” hits like that.

As a gnarly, fuzzed-out riff from studio session ace Tom Bukovac fades, Shane — a Kentucky boy who races muscle cars and got turned onto music at a Baptist revival — shares his origin story: “I got a public education/But it didn’t come from class/It came from the long rides home/On the bus, in the back.” Anyone who’s ridden the yellow chariot to school knows the good shit happened in those last two rows, right by the emergency exit — the smoking, the smack talk, the flirting.

Shane celebrates all those indiscretions and more in “County Roads,” a coming-of-age song about “the lessons that don’t come cheap.” Written by Shane, Kip Moore’s go-to collaborator Dan Couch, and Shane’s producer Oscar Charles, it hits all the marks of wonderfully wasted youth. During a night out cruising with his girl, he learns “you can still go too far/even when the tank’s on E.” In another vignette, he watches his love life get snuffed out when his dad unceremoniously hands him a wrench and his stood-up lady takes off with his buddy. (Shane did come away knowing how to fix a car, however.)

The whole song ends in a “na-na-na” chorus, a flurry of guitar notes, and Shane’s defiant drawl. It’s electrifying stuff, and a reminder that mainstream country music, for all its overpolished excess, can be at its best when it’s rough around the edges.

Find a playlist of all of our recent Songs You Need to Know selections on Spotify.

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