Whether it’s coming out of Nashville, New York, L.A., or points in between, there’s no shortage of fresh tunes, especially from artists who have yet to become household names. Rolling Stone Country selects some of the best new music releases from country and Americana artists. (Check out last week’s best songs.)
Gary Louris, “Almost Home”
The Jayhawks singer gears up for the June 5th release of his solo album Jump for Joy with this euphoric slice of jangle-pop. Structured around a handclap beat and a sprightly strummed acoustic, “Almost Home” powers through Louris’ vivid memories of his lover: her in a white dress; the couple hitch-hiking home after a flat tire; drunken skinny-dipping while singing along to the Velvet Underground. “When I close my eyes I always see your face/I hear your voice/I’m almost home,” Louris croons. It’s a personal remembrance with universal appeal.
The Infamous Stringdusters, “My Sweet Blue Eyed Darling”
The Nashville bluegrass stalwarts deliver a barnburner of a performance with “My Sweet Blue Eyed Darling,” the first taste of the Stringdusters’ upcoming tribute album to the “Father of Bluegrass,” Bill Monroe (May 28th). Andy Falco’s guitar picking is fierce, Chris Pandolfi’s banjo roils, and the harmonies are next-level. The band stays mainly faithful to Monroe’s 1977 recording, but the album itself takes some bold chances: there’s not a single note of mandolin, Monroe’s favored instrument.
Lauren Jenkins, “Like You Found Me”
The creator of 2019’s sleeper masterpiece No Saint returns with this muscular indie-rock anthem, which pairs pounding drums and sinewy electric guitar with a vulnerable plea to a potential suitor. “If you leave me, leave me like you found me,” the Texas native sings in the track, co-written by Jenkins and Blake Chaffin. But don’t mistake Jenkins’ hesitancy to have her heart broken (again) for weakness. Now an independent artist, she’s fully capable of going it alone: “I don’t need a man who thinks he’s James damn Dean,” she snarls in one verse. “Like You Found Me” is the first in a series of songs Jenkins plans to release this year.
Chris Housman, “Blueneck”
“If you work a job, you oughta make a living/George Strait or George Gay, there’s no difference,” Nashville artist Chris Housman points out in one excellent line from his new track “Blueneck,” which landed high on the Apple Music Country chart upon its release. It’s a catchy song about being empathetic and inclusive no matter where you are, powered by cutting-edge production that looks past artificial borders for inspiration. “I think ‘y’all’ means ‘all’ and I know we all just wanna know that we belong,” he sings, articulating the feelings of many a Red State-dwelling liberal right now.
Blane Howard, “Rock on Her Window”
Arkansas country artist Blane Howard offers up a story of mostly innocent teenage rebellion and romance in “Rock on Her Window,” describing a couple of kids who sneak out and get to know one another better. “Sometimes a wild night turns into a lifetime,” Howard sings, his band’s electric-guitar crunch calling to mind Keith Urban if he were duetting with Ronnie Dunn. But this isn’t a nostalgic look back — it’s about young love that lasts, and the “rock” in the present is the one he put on her finger when they got engaged.