Best New Country and American Songs: February 2018
Here are Max Sparber's picks for the best new country and Americana songs of February, 2018.
“S.O.B.,” Eddie Berman
The singer’s cover of “Pretty Pimping” was one
of my favorites from last year. Here he tackles Nathaniel Rateliff’s
barnburning celebration of hard-drinking and turns it into an Elliot
Smith-style meditation on alcoholism.
“Country Outlaw,” Big Smo
Buoyant, huge and vaguely ridiculous, just
the way I like country rap. Over a spare backwoods blues riff, Smo
croaks an autobiographical tale of being a rural rap fan. The chorus
explodes with fuzzed guitars and heavy metal falsetto male vocals.
“Fulton Country Jane Doe,” Brandi Carlisle
country rock, built around a “For What’s it’s Worth”-style harmonic
jump, telling of a rural romance between characters that seem drawn from
a Kris Kristofferson song.
“Six Feet from the Flowers,” Caleb Caudle
Over high, sobbing, bent
guitar notes, Caudle gently sings an elegiac ode to a deceased spouse,
and the resulting, lingering heartbreak.
“Olivia,” Lowland Hum
Cheerful acoustic guitar, lush horns, and the
sort of broad-ranging, twee melody Harry Nillson specialized in, but
presented as a gorgeous tight-harmony male/female duet. ”Olivia, here we
are,” they sing, “we want to have a good time with you!”
"Anytime," John Oates
John Oates from Hall and Oates, that is, who has produced an entire album of lazily swinging, ragtime-tinged Americana. This number features a sweetly nostalgic country-blues guitar, genial lyrics, and sweet, lightly raspy vocals.
“I’ll Cry,” Juanita Stein
From an EP of acoustic versions of Stein’s
songs. Even with a simple guitar part, this melancholy number sounds
borrowed from the same sensibilities as, say, “Blue Velvet” or “I Only
Have Eyes for You,” meant to be heard on am radio at 3 in the morning.
"Carry Me Home," The Sweeplings
Moody, haunted tight-harmony duet over a brooding guitar part, drawing in equal measures from primitive folk-country and the witchier Stevie Nicks songs. "Carry me when the shadow comes to take me away," they sing, both ecstatic and terrified.
"Wild Heart Roam," Letitia Vansant
Funereal country rock number featuring broken, nearly yodeled vocals from the singer, bluesy acoustic slide guitar, and the occasional sputterings of a fizzed out electric guitar. Marvelously moody ode to a woman who is at her best wandering.