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Wide Open Country’s Weekly Must-Listens: Tyler Childers, Priscilla Renea and More

David McClister

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: “High Horse (Violents Remix),” Kacey Musgraves

Kacey Musgraves’ “High Horse” is already cemented as many fans’ song of the summer, but this new remix from  Jeremy Larson’s electro-pop project Violents takes things to another level. The intense horn section and funky production will have you dancing in no time.

Bobbie Jean’s Pick: “If I Ever Loved You,” Priscilla Renea

One of many standout moments on Priscilla Renea‘s brilliant new album Coloured,  “If I Ever Loved You” merges R&B with country, showcasing Renea’s powerhouse voice alongside soaring guitars and gorgeous flourishes of pedal steel. The singer-songwriter, who’s penned hits for Rihanna, Kelly Clarkson and Miranda Lambert, weaves a timeless tale of a woman at a crossroads in a relationship. “If I ever loved you I probably still do/If I don’t then I never did,” Renea sings. “If I ever loved you, there’s still a place for you in a room I never go in in my heart.” Like Carrie Underwood’s current power ballad smash “Cry Pretty,” “If I Ever Loved You” offers up the raw vulnerability and truth we could use a lot more of on country radio these days.

Rachel’s Pick: “Nothing,” Noah Derksen

Nobody said a happy song had to be simplistic. Canadian singer-songwriter Noah Derksen describes his music as “contemplative folk.” His new song “Nothing” boasts a robust pop melody, but it’s the lyrics that will hook you in. For Derksen (and many of his listeners) those small moments of silence are the ones where you can feel your love for a person grow.

Bobby’s Pick: “Abbzug,” Hawktail

Like The Wailin’ Jennys before them, Hawktail will probably end up as regulars on the bluegrass charts despite having a sound that’s hardly genre-specific. Dave Rawlings’ touring fiddler, Brittany Haas, leads an all-star quartet featuring bassist Paul Cowert (Punch Brothers), guitarist Jordan Tice and mandolin player Dominick Leslie. The group explores a wide variety of traditions throughout new album Unless. For example, Haas leads a white-hot tune that’s reminiscent of something from the halcyon days of fiddling contests on opening track “Abbzug.”

Jeremy’s Pick: “Not That Someone,” Gulf Stream Riders

A collaboration between American Chris Anderson and Finn Nalle Ahlstedt, Gulf Stream Riders create a compelling mix of laid-back country, folk and pop on “Not That Someone.” Though the band itself is new, Anderson and Ahlstedt first worked together as members of rock bands Wighthouse Wanderland and Burn. After years apart, they reunited to make the kind of music they always wanted to create together. “Not That Someone” feels both modern and catchy but sincere and road-worn, with the right amount of folksy instrumentation accompanying an easygoing melody.

Thomas’ Pick: “Dead Man’s Curve,” Tyler Childers

By no means is Tyler ChildersLive on Red Barn Radio I & II a new collection of songs. Originally released in 2013 and 2014 as individual four-track EPs, the collection of live cuts was re-released at the tail end of June. While it was specifically for a vinyl rollout, it received a re-release digitally as well. While not new, the eight songs are probably falling on fresh ears with the re-release all the same. In particular, “Dead Man’s Curve,” a fresh and lively Appalachian cautionary tale, is one of Childers’ strongest efforts to date. Lines such like “with all them boys who thought they could make it, Deadman’s Curve gonna lay them down” deliver a sharp amount of hubris. Likewise, Childers’ voice is a tour de force that demands all of your undivided attention. More than anything, it’s something to hold fans over until Childers eventually releases his Purgatory follow-up.

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Wide Open Country’s Weekly Must-Listens: Tyler Childers, Priscilla Renea and More