Each week the Wide Open Country staff rounds up our favorite newly released country and Americana songs. Here are five new songs we can't stop listening to this week:
"Headstart," Jade Bird
-- Bobbie Jean Sawyer
"Mississippi Goddam," Kelsey Waldon feat. Adia Victoria and Kyshona Armstrong
Kelsey Waldon, Adia Victoria and Kyshona Armstrong cover Nina Simone's powerful song about racial injustice, "Mississippi Goddam," for Waldon's forthcoming album They'll Never Keep Us Down (out on November 20). Simone wrote the song after white supremacists killed four young girls in the 1963 bombing of a Black church in Birmingham, Alabama.
"This song [Mississippi Goddam], which showcases racial injustice as well as the enduring fight and fear that the Black community has had to endure in this country for centuries, still rings true decades later," Waldon said in a statement. "Today in 2020, as we push for progress, sometimes it still feels like we are going backwards."
The b-side of "Mississippi Goddam" is a cover of Hazel Dickens' "They'll Never Keep Us Down." The album also features Waldon's rendition of John Prine's "Sam Stone."
They'll Never Keep Us Down will be released on two limited edition colored vinyl, which will each benefit non-profit advocates. Proceeds from the red vinyl will go to Hood to the Holler, a non-profit organization aiming to end racial injustice in Kentucky and beyond. Proceeds from the blue vinyl will go to the Appalachian Citizens' Law Center, who represent coal miners and their families on issues of black lung and mine safety. Both can be pre-ordered here.
-- Bobbie Jean Sawyer
"Ooh Child,' AJ Croce
This isn't "country" by any measure, but most of us don't mind if we hear the Five Stairstep's 1970 hit "O-o-h Child" in public. After all, it's a textbook example of pop harmonies that champion social harmony. Nor do many of us want to shoot the jukebox (or the device that's streaming a playlist, more than likely) if it's followed by a Jim Croce classic. For the next best thing in both cases, hear famous son AJ Croce's true to the original cover.
If you can't lay a finger on why AJ's voice sounds familiar, he sings his dad's "I Got a Name" in those Goodyear commercials featuring Dale Earnhardt Jr.
"Pandemic," Linda Gail Lewis
Linda Gail Lewis, the sister of Jerry Lee and a cousin of Mickey Gilley and Jimmy Swaggart, isn't letting COVID-19's impact on live music and other facets of life rob her of joy and hope. Through prayer, the song's narrator finds the courage and faith to tell her invisible enemy that "I won't let you drown me in your dark and endless sea." By song's end, you'll wonder if she's the best messenger of God's promises in the whole family.
"Ain't Always the Cowboy" (Western Version), Jon Pardi
We were already big fans of "Ain't Always the Cowboy" from Jon Pardi's most recent album Heartache Medication. But he recently released a deluxe version of the album with three new songs, including this western version of his popular single. The fiddle and steel guitar are really paying homage to old school country artists that paved the way for newer artists like Pardi. But most importantly, the song proves that classic country is here to stay and we love that Pardi went back to his western roots to release this updated version. Pardi performed his new western version at the Grand Ole Opry in August (watch that here) and we still can't get enough of it.
-- Courtney Campbell