In popular music, production is always the most important aspect of a song. Bad singers can be autotuned, lyrics can be sent through ten or fifteen writers to make something mediocre something somewhat relatable, but production is what makes people remember a song. That’s why acoustic music is so risky, because the production can no longer carry the song and the artist. But it also can pay off in extraordinary ways like it does on JoLivi’s brand new Raw EP.
Canadian singer/songwriter Tenille Townes isn’t Lori McKenna, but they were cut from the same cloth when it comes to songwriting. You can hear the love junkie in the specificity of Townes’s lyrics, even the vocal delivery. But these songs all straight story songs — something McKenna does exceptionally well but doesn’t do as much as she should.
Kacey Musgraves has long been hailed as one of the only young traditionalists in country music — ever since her debut “Merry Go ‘Round” in 2012. But her first album in three years has took a little bit of a different turn, steering away from the bluegrass and roots-influenced music of her past.
Songwriter Caitlyn Smith has written hundreds of songs, self-released three full-length records and worked her butt off in the music industry for years. But to the public, Starfire is their first introduction to her. And what an introduction it is.
Kalie Shorr’s latest project is a complete reinvention of her sound. Her last project, Slingshot and the Y2k Mixtape before that both embraced the pop-country sound that’s fairly popular right now among young artists. But Awake sounds unlike anything country singers are releasing these days. A couple years ago, Shorr’s little slogan was ‘A little bit country, a little bit rock and roll.’ Awake is her return to that, and the first time she’s fully embraced all of her influences on a project.
You really haven’t met Danielle Bradbery until you take a listen to her sophomore record. Forget everything you know about Bradbery from her first record: the traditional country sounds, the fiddles, the slightly-too-old-for-her lyrics. Bradbery’s second album, but in actuality the first album dictated by her, is a rebirth of her as an artist.
"I grew up my father's daughter / he said don't take no shit from no one" is the first line of newcomer Jade Jackson's record Gilded. It's a bold and defining statement that concisely describes the Anti Records artist's debut album. This album is a musical storybook, each song telling a specific story, all connecting to the overarching theme of being strong in the face of adversity and learning how to love. From start to finish, Gilded is full of hope, loss and self-discovery.
A year after the release of The Variety Show Volume One, Maggie Rose is back with another EP. Volume 2 of The Variety Show never appeared, but this could be seen as the second volume. This one doesn't have 'variety' in the title, but Rose has continued her pop influenced country sound, adding a little variety into country music. It completes Rose's transition from more traditional to more varied, and solidifies the vibe of the new and improved Maggie Rose.
Former Sony Music artist Ana Cristina Cash is leaping into the country music scene with her new EP, The Tough Love EP. Produced by and written in part with her husband John Carter Cash, this preview of her upcoming full length debut country record is soulful, gritty, and tough, like the title indicates. Her vocals are stellar, the lyrics tell interesting stories, and the sound is a marriage of classic and new, soul and country. Here's the breakdown, track-by-track.
Before even listening, a serious country music listener needs to go in knowing what this album is. It's bubbly pop-country from an early twenties woman who just got married. It's going to be sickly sweet at moments, and very poppy at others. But there are some surprises. There's depth to this album, in a way that not many people expected it to have, and although is it polished pop country, it's polished pop-country perfection. With some misses, and some incredible hits, RaeLynn's debut record is worth a listen.