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:
"Hole in the Bottle," Kelsea Ballerini and Shania Twain
In an interview with Kelleigh Bannen on Today's Country Radio, Ballerini said the collaboration all started with an email.
"I got an email from 'something Twain and I'm like, 'Is this Shania?' And, basically she had started the conversation of 'Let's do something together.' And, I was just honored that she even thought of me, you know?" Ballerini told Today's Country Radio with Kelleigh Bannen on Apple Music Country. And we just kind of went back and forth on a couple other ideas, and some songs, we're just sending each other a ton of stuff. And then finally I was like, 'Wait a second, I have this single, and it's kind of catchy, and she could kill this. And what if she just added to the fire?' But I was listening to all of these harmonies, and her ad-libs... every single thing that she sent me just going, 'You know who you are, and what you contribute, and what you're great at, and what makes you an icon.' "
-- Bobbie Jean Sawyer
"Lying to Myself," Kalie Shorr
Kalie Shorr reflects on a past relationship on the grunge-country "Lying to Myself," the latest release from her forthcoming expanded album Open Book: Unabridged (out Dec. 4).
"Every song on Open Book came from personal experiences, and the songs on Open Book: Unabridged are no different," Shorr said in a statement. "Late one night in West Hollywood with Cora Jane Sugarman and Elias Abid, this song basically fell out. I had just ended things with someone, and I was looking back on it wondering if it really was as serious as it had felt like it was. It's so hard sometimes to keep my head out of the clouds and not idealize situations. This was me taking an honest look inside to see how maybe I had set my expectations too high, and it wasn't their fault. Sonically, I love how this song can feel ethereal while still having the grungy guitars that I love so much. It's one of my favorite tracks that I've produced, and I loved getting to do it with Elias and Skip Black across two different cities."
Shorr recently launched the podcast Too Much to Say With Kalie Shorr, produced by radio host Bobby Bones.
-- Bobbie Jean Sawyer
"Peace," Dave Alvin
Sure, certain corners of social media have ran sweeping statements about who all's underrated or overrated into the ground, but LA punk trend-setter turned Americana stalwart Dave Alvin really does deserve way more praise. Even if you take The Vandals' Urban Cowboy send-up "Urban Struggle" to heart or avoid punk rock for any other reason, at least give Alvin credit for songs (Dwight Yoakam's "Long White Cadillac") and collaborations (his shared 2018 album with Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Downey to Lubbock) that prove his twang-rock aptitude.
For another example of Alvin's skill as a top-notch song interpreter and guitarist, check out his cover of pioneering Chicago blues artist Willie Dixon's "Peace." It's another friendly reminder of rock 'n' roll and its many offshoots' deepest African American roots.
Alvin's version of "Peace" appears on From An Old Guitar: Rare and Unreleased Recordings, out Nov. 20 on Yep Roc Records.
"Maggie's Song," Chris Stapleton
Just in case you need a good, pre-Thanksgiving cry, Chris Stapleton's new album Starting Over gifted us with the Where the Red Fern Grows of sad dog songs.
"Maggie's Song" begins with the Stapleton family finding a scared, abandoned pup in a shopping cart and ends with listeners in tears. It's especially devastating if you've ever said goodbye to an ailing pet.
A lot more can be said about Maggie's Rainbow Bridge send-off, but let's leave it at this: If you said 'oh no' out loud when you first heard the verse about Maggie's passing (or yelled "that child couldn't feel her legs anymore!" across the room at your own dog), you're not alone.
"Take Me Home For Christmas," Dan + Shay
Okay, generally I try to be one of those people that can hold out on listening to holiday music until after Thanksgiving, but this year, anything goes, in my opinion. This new Dan + Shay holiday song is so fun, upbeat, and festive in the best way. It makes it even more charming that their own families were cast in their feel-good music video that is guaranteed to put you in a good mood.
"This is our first original Christmas song, and we had a blast writing and recording it," Dan Smyers said in a statement (quote via Pop Culture). "It was cool to get in the holiday spirit a little early this year because I think we could all use some extra positivity and cheer. Our fans have asked for Christmas music every year, so I hope you all have as much fun listening to it as we did making it."
-- Courtney Campbell