For something a little different and out of the line of the music I usually cover on Queens of Country, I'm introducing you to Naomi Wachira this week. Born in Kenya, but now based in Seattle, Wachira creates intricate world and reggae-influenced folk music with incredibly important messages. "Beautifully Human" is the first song off of her upcoming sophomore album, Songs of Lament, and it's really worth a listen for anyone a bit concerned about the state of our world currently and looking for hope in the darkness.
If you ask any artist or country fan why they listen to country music, usually they'll say because of the lyrics. They love country music because it tells real-life stories. On country radio, it's often difficult to find stories of real life. It's easy to hear stories of flirtations and of trucks, but story songs haven't necessarily been radio-friendly in recent years. But country music still is and always will be about real life. Kelleigh Bannen's new single "Church Clothes" is a country song at its best.
All-female vocal groups have had a bit of trouble succeeding in recent years, just like female solo acts, but that doesn't mean that these groups aren't putting out stellar music. And this year, their popularity has been increasing, especially with Runaway June breaking the Top 30. Maybe April is one of the more under-the-radar country bands, but they've been working hard to craft their own version of the traditional female girl group sound, and it's a killer sound that they've crafted.
Music is constantly evolving. It's difficult to keep up, as in country music especially, there is a new wave of artists coming in and taking over every couple of years. One of those new groups is the artists taking older music sounds and incorporating these sounds into contemporary country. And it's not just older country sounds, it's vintage pop, or in Jo Smith's case, old Motown vibes. Her EP Introducing JoSMITH has an unmistakable sound that is becoming her trademark.
It's no secret that even though Haley Georgia has 'Georgia' in her name, she has a track record of making music that's way more southern pop than country. And in the past, as she's been developing her sound, she's put out some definite misses. Don't remind me about "Ridiculous": it's a song we all try to forget ever existed. But with this new single, "Never Mine Nevermind," it seems as though Haley Georgia has developed into an artist to keep an eye on.
With her new single "Every Little Thing," Carly Pearce has found the sweet spot between modern production and more classic country sounds. She's played with both before, with the more acoustic old-school sounding "Black Sheep" on her EP, and then her most recent release, the firmly pop-country "Dare Ya." This new song is a mixture of the two, and is a song to be named when talking about how country music should and could be evolving into.
Country music used to be a genre for older people, but today, it's a genre for young people as well. As the lyrical content began to change to being more teen-friendly most notably with Taylor Swift in 2006, the genre has been exposed to a whole new generation. Today, those young girls who became hooked onto country music when it first began more youth-friendly are now all grown up, and are beginning to make youth-friendly country music of their own.
For someone whose live show is considered one of the best in Nashville, it makes sense that Lindsay Ell has begun releasing songs that would be incredibly fun in a live setting. Ell is quickly developing her signature sound, veering away from her old, rock influenced sound, and now incorporating pop sounds into her country songs. This song and her last single release "By The Way" are both songs that are built for a live show.
Jamie Lynn Spears came out of hiding and back into the spotlight in 2013 with her debut country single "How Could I Want More" and her EP. After years of staying out of the press and the headlines, Spears came back gracefully and beautifully, by releasing one of the best songs of 2013, in country music and in general. She followed it up with a very promising EP, which was actually one of the first albums ever reviewed on this website. But since then, she's been quiet.
First released to SoundCloud, but then quickly pulled and sent to iTunes as the result of overwhelmingly positive feedback, "Almost" is Megan & Liz's newest single. The country/pop duo released their second country EP, Deux earlier this year, and this song is the first taste of the new music they've been working on since then.