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. (Check out last week’s best songs.)
The singer of New Orleans soul-rockers the Deslondes gears up for his debut solo album, Start It Over, with this reminder to inhale and exhale the good stuff. With funky piano shuffling it along, “Deep Breath” finds Riley Downing tapping into his inner Leon Russell, growling about life’s doldrums and praising the relief that comes with a solid sigh. “Take a deep breath,” Downing kindly instructs, “it’s gonna be alright.”
Oklahoma singer-songwriter Samantha Crain incorporates a portion of the gospel song “This Little Light of Mine” into “Bloomsday,” a shimmering track from the upcoming EP I Guess We Live Here Now. The positivity translates: Crain’s mesmerizing, melodic word tumble naturally complements her lyrics about kindness and finding an inner light, and she affirms that she’ll be letting hers radiate when, as she sings, “everybody’s wondering where their little light is.”
“I don’t know who needs to hear this” has become something of a tired meme, but the sister group Tigirlily give the phrase fresh life with this inspirational anthem about perseverance in trying times. “Believe you’re somebody’s more than enough,” the North Dakota duo of Krista and Kendra Slaubaugh harmonize in the chorus. Bolstered by huge production from Shane McAnally and Louis Newman, “Somebody Does” is an irresistible slice of power-country with a message we could all stand to hear: It’s OK to love yourself.
Weepy steel guitar isn’t all that make this cheating song scream “classic country.” The title itself is right up there with clever country entries like “She’s Actin’ Single (I’m Drinkin’ Doubles)” and “Sleepin’ Single in a Double Bed.” “I thank God I heard it through the red wine,” Rhode Island native Charlie Marie sings in the chorus, winking at Marvin Gaye’s unforgettable hit about loose lips while detailing the drunken truths of a lover. “That bottle made an honest man of you,” Marie croons. In vino veritas, indeed.
There’s a hint of Tom Petty’s jangle and gritty determination in Travis Linville’s new single “I’m Still Here,” which he penned with the Highwomen’s Natalie Hemby for the album I’m Still Here that he will release on May 21st. With steady acoustic guitar and soft rim-click drums that never break into a gallop, the song has something to say about standing firm, whether in hopes of winning someone back or waiting on a dream. “Hoping for the best, never really left you, honey/I’m still here/Always looking up, still holding strong,” Linville sings, with an unmistakable note of optimism in his voice.
Clint Roberts has crafted a literate batch of tunes on the newly released album Rose Songs, blending his soulful voice with roots-rock polish courtesy of studio aces like Fred Eltringham, Dan Dugmore, and Gordon Mote. In the meditative “Nothing Left to Say,” Roberts describes the feeling of being stuck in a “Podunk town” and wondering whether his dreams will actually work out. Not that he’s planning to stop anytime soon: “Nobody’s gonna tell me something like my life’s simpler and better off this way,” he asserts in the chorus, just asking for a chance to sing his songs.