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: “Weed, Whiskey and Willie,” Brothers Osborne
It will be hard to beat Kacey Musgraves’ Golden Hour as my favorite album of the spring, but Brothers Osborne’s Port Saint Joe is definitely in the running. The track “Weed, Whiskey and Willie” is a infectious ode to the old standbys that help get us all through the hard times.
Bobbie Jean’s Pick: “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters,” Maren Morris
Elton John will always be considered a rock and pop icon (and rightfully so), but the Rocket Man himself has always shown a deep love for country music. In fact, the legend’s 1970 album Tumbleweed Connection would fit comfortably in the country and Americana scene today. So it makes perfect sense to have country’s best and brightest covering John on the newly released tribute compilation Restoration: Reimagining the Songs of Elton John and Bernie Taupin. Maren Morris‘ stirring take on Honky Chateau deep cut “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” stands out on an album full of heavy-hitters. One of the most impressive vocalists of her generation, Morris effortlessly steps into the timeless tale of a small town soul struggling to make it in the big city. The Texan’s soulful cover is a reminder that the song’s subject wouldn’t be out of place on country radio.
Bobby’s Pick: “Stay Out of My Business,” Tami Neilson
Singer and songwriter Tami Neilson built a reputation in her home base of New Zealand over the years with her upbeat, lyrically-driven mix of rockabilly and country music. With “Stay Out of My Business,” she utilizes her vocal range to its fullest, playing up her appreciation for classic soul music. Although its vibe screams retro, the lyrics would not sound out of place on a more modern-sounding pop or country album. She takes aim at her detractors in a fit of righteous indignation, as if a ’60s icon started reading off the same lyrical page as Margo Price or Kesha. The song appears on Sassafrass!, out June 1 on Outside Music.
Jeremy’s Pick: “Hey Mama,” Michael Tyler
Michael Tyler is still fairly young on the scene, but he just scored two songs on Jason Aldean’s new album Rearview Town. Thanks to a chance meeting with Aldean’s producer Michael Knox years ago, Tyler found sturdy mentoring in an often crazy Nashville country world. His debut album 317 reflects what a lot of early artists encounter — namely, a desire to fit in both thematically and sonically. But on “Hey Mama,” Tyler steps out and pens a song that feels earnest, original and catchy. It’s the story of a young kid who calls his mom to thank her for her love life advice and tell her he found the right girl. It may be a bit of a “mama’s boy” ode, but darn it if it doesn’t feel sweetly authentic.
Thomas’s Pick “Wild Love,” Ashley Monroe
For the last couple of months, Ashley Monroe has been leaving a trail of bread crumb singles in anticipation for her fourth album, Sparrow, which will finally be released next Friday (April 20). She’s mentioned multiple times that the Dave Cobb-poroduced project would be highly accented by lush string arrangements. On “Wild Love,” she delivers a soft, yet rushing pulse fully equipped with a blooming string section that’s reminiscent of Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road — specifically the outro on “The Ballad of Danny Bailey (1909-34).” There’s a touch of Spaghetti Western tinge that adds a soaring flood. They amplify Monroe’s vocals, which are as sultry as they are rosy. Lines like “I need a stranger to pull my hair and call my name, take me home and make me feel alive again” are ripe with unabashed desire. Sparrowcertainly has all the signs of being an instant classic.