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Wide Open Country’s Weekly Must-Listens: Courtney Marie Andrews, Red Shahan and More

Courtney Marie Andrews

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: “Big Sky,” The Wild Feathers

With their first new track since 2016’s Lonely is a Lifetime, The Wild Feathers are back with “Big Sky.” The tune infuses plenty of 1970s psych-rock and country elements, signaling a slight evolution in their sound. The band has tour dates booked with Willie Nelson later this year, so it seems like a new album isn’t too far away.

Bobbie Jean’s Pick: “I’ve Hurt Worse,” Courtney Marie Andrews

Kindness is more than just a title for Phoenix native Courtney Marie Andrews’ new album May Your Kindness Remain — it’s a central theme, with the concept of empathy and kindness as radical acts weaved throughout the album. The title track and the gospel-tinged “Kindness of Strangers” are anthems for our time, but “I’ve Hurt Worse,” a slow-burner about a woman in a relationship with a particularly non-empathetic partner, is not to be missed. The sarcasm in lines like “I like when I have to call you a second time / it keeps me wondering if you are mine” mask the quiet suffering of a broken heart.

Bobby’s Pick: “The Comeback Kid,” Lindi Ortega

Despite hailing from Canada, many of Lindi Ortega‘s better songs point to the American West Coast’s history of rocking country music. “Comeback Kid,” one of the lead singles off new album Liberty, drives this point home while turning a murder ballad into a statement of independence. Its reference points range from the Southwestern sounds brought to California by seekers of gold and cash crops to home-grown punk and garage rock.  Lyrically, Ortega sings of someone stubborn enough to keep on haunting adversaries after being viciously shot down. No word on whether this is commentary on dealing with the music business, but it could easily apply to a lot of other artists’ horror stories. 

Jeremy’s Pick: “Less and Less,” Josh Grider

Josh Grider’s new album Good People was a labor of love, recorded between legendary Nashville studios and Grider’s own hill country home. On the album’s second track “Less and Less,” Grider finds the perfect balance between laid back groove, earnest melancholy, and cautious optimism. It’s a wonderfully written tune that hits on a universal feeling without feeling cliche. No small feat for any artist.

Thomas’s Pick “Idle Hands,” Red Shahan

Found nestled in the back half of Red Shahan’s Culberson County is the romantic confessional “Idle Hands.” While the majority of Culberson County has Shahan venturing into the back 40 of West Texas with harsh character sketches, badland ballads and resilient narratives, “Idle Hands” carries a different kind of weight. Built around the heartfelt chorus of “If the devil’s workshop are these idle hands, lord let this woman make me a busy man,” Shahan uses the timeless idiom to perfection. While Shahan can rock & roll with the best of them, on “Idle Hands,” he sings with a soulful conviction that hinges on professing detail. Perhaps his most intimate song to date, Shahan captures the turning of a page and beginning of a new chapter. He puts to bed his reckless and rambling ways in favor of the gentle warmth of home.

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Wide Open Country’s Weekly Must-Listens: Courtney Marie Andrews, Red Shahan and More