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

Hard-strummed, 70s-style 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.


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