Best New Country and Americana Songs: November, 2017

Suicide Swans

Here are Max Sparber's picks for the best new country and Americana songs of November, 2017.

"Horses,” Suicide Swans

A mix of Tom Petty at his punkiest and Bob Dylan’s vocals at his most sneering. Isolation and alienation envisioned as a stampede of ponies through the singer’s head.

“Lucky Me,” Aaron McDonnell

Classic-sounding honky tonk, leaning hard on the very welcome sounds of a lap steel guitar, the singer’s baritone voice, and the dual themes of loneliness and being a barfly.

“Eastern Sky,” Birds of Chicago

A subdued ragtime guitar and an near-monotone male voice leads into something much dreamier, with a lilting, lovely woman’s voice and ghostly lap steel guitar. A song about escaping the city.

“Siri Linn,” Daniel Gadd

Gentle, misty folk song, with a lovely fingerpicked guitar and Gadd’s voice, which sounds like a boyish Lee Hazelwood. Also like a Hazelwood song, this song uses frontier imagery to tell of doomed love.

“It Ain’t Pretty,” Taylor Kingman. 

A spare and raw folk song, detailing the artistic toll of addiction. “I can’t sing no more,” Kingman tells us. “You’re going to hear each beer I’m drinking.”

“River,” Sarah Darling

A pleasant surprise on a Country Christmas album, Joni Mitchell’s melancholy broken love song, in which the singer wants to flee her shame, benefits from a slightly new agey arrangement and Darling’s exquisite voice.

“Shake” by Shook Twins

Enjoyably spooky folk ballad built around a moody banjo portion and the singers’ vocals, which sound like The Roaches have joined a coven.

“Burning Sky” by Mamagigi’s

Cowpunk by way of a transmission from Venus. Imagine “Ghost Riders in the Sky” with theremins.

“The Brand,” Robert Francis

Ultra-cool, ultra-cynical anti-corporate song, as though “Fever” has been rewritten to highlight a deeply reverbed guitar, whispered vocals, and electric piano stings.

"Life is Confusing," Langhorne Slim

A lovely, wry ballad saturated with organ and fiddle, that sounds like the soundtrack to this bewildering fucking year.

"Falling Water," Pete Oren

A moody, melodic folk tune that sounds like the closing credits of a 70s cowboy film, essaying the singer’s sense of total displacement.


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