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Wide Open Country Weekly Must-Listens: Ruston Kelly, Paul Cauthen and More

Alex Kelly

Here at Wide Open Country, we love sharing our favorite music, whether it’s a brand new track that you haven’t heard or an oldie that deserves some new attention. Each week, our team of music writers spotlight one song that stands out among the pack. Here’s what we’re listening to this week.

Lorie’s Pick: “The Night We Met,” Lord Huron ft. Phoebe Bridgers

This track from Lord Huron‘s 2015 record Strange Tails has long been a favorite of mine. This new version featuring the haunting vocals of Phoebe Bridgers gives the track new life. If you are going through heartbreak or missing a loved one, make sure you have tissues ready before listening to this one.

Bobbie Jean’s Pick: “Jericho,” Ruston Kelly

On the sparse and beautiful “Jericho,” singer-songwriter Ruston Kelly delves into the darkness to find the light. Penned by Kelly, along with Natalie Hemby and Joy Williams, who lend vocals to the track, “Jericho” is the lead single from Kelly’s upcoming album Dying Star.  “I raised Jericho around me but these walls are built to scale,” Kelly sings as lonesome steel guitar cries out. Reminiscent of the everyman poetry of Bruce Springsteen, it’s both dark and hopeful.

Bobby’s Pick: “Lil Son,” Paul Cauthen

Sure, a lot of artists get flippantly compared to the singing styles of Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings, but Paul Cauthen really does possess a classic-sounding baritone voice that can add a sense of Earthly wisdom or evangelistic zeal, depending on the song. On the more-Western-than-country “Lil Son,” off his recent Have Mercy EP, he serves as more of an ominous voice of God than a narrator. By song’s end, a gospel choir adds a sense that Cauthen, like Cash and even Elvis Presley before him, finds peace in his soul whenever he revisits the old red-back hymnal. 

Rachel’s Pick: “Lullaby,” St. Pete Holland

As we cruise into summer, it’s easy to let the weather dictate our mood. The Nasvhille-based folk band, St. Pete Holland, has a bittersweet summer jam in “Lullaby.” The song ruminates on the fleeting nature of life while focusing on the constants that matter. Careful mandolin work and gentle harmonies create a solid foundation for a song that’s got a gentle touch and real staying power.

Jeremy’s Pick: “Hard Not To Love It,” Steve Moakler

Steve Moakler released his new album Born Ready only a few weeks ago, and it’s hard not to love (pun intended) this infectious new track. With a chorus saying “If it weren’t for heartbreak we wouldn’t have a story now,” Moakler is focusing on the shinier side of life without being overly bubbly. It’s a clap-along affair for one of Music City’s tried and true songwriter artists. The road hasn’t always been easy for Moakler, either, but you can tell “Hard Not To Love It” comes from a genuine place while still putting a smile on your face.

Thomas’ Pick: “Hit You Where It Hurts,” William Clark Green

Earlier this month, William Clark Green released “Hit You Where It Hurts,” the flagship single from his upcoming album, the highly anticipated Herbert Island (pronounced A-Bear). Green wrote the banjo-laden feel-good fallout with fellow songwriter Corey Kent White. With the song, the pair tap into one of the rawest and most natural emotions felts after a bitter breakup—vengeful spite spurred on by vulnerability. Sure, it’s a little immature and childish, but it’s real and honest all the same. There’s gentle nods to Tom Petty’s heartbreak rock anthems (Some “I Won’t Back Down” or “You Got Lucky”). “It’ll feel just like a curse. It’ll knock you in the dirt and just when you think it can’t get worse, I’m gonna hit you where it hurts,” belts out Green with a gritty rasp. That colossal singalong chorus easily ropes you in with one of the most addictive ear candy hooks all year.

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Wide Open Country Weekly Must-Listens: Ruston Kelly, Paul Cauthen and More