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:
"Smoke," Cody Landress-Gibson
It's usually lazy to liken a rising artist to a fractured folk singer turned cult favorite, but Northwest Georgia-based singer-songwriter Cody Landress-Gibson really does take take multiple cues from Blaze Foley. "Smoke" in particular dials in on Foley's ability to whimsically spill his guts through less-is-more acoustic performances. For more earthy wisdom shared through poetry, check out Landress-Gibson's self-titled album, which came out earlier this month.
"Hallelujahville," Tim McGraw
If you've written off Tim McGraw as "too pop" or not your cup of tea at any point in his career, you've skipped over something great. If the poorly aged "Indian Outlaw" scared you off back in the day, you missed "Don't Take the Girl." If the harmless fun of "Truck Yeah" sounded like a "bro-country" nightmare, then "Humble and Kind" might not have been on your radar. Point is, never write off McGraw because he's always on the verge of something amazing.
This time around, McGraw follows the sweet sentiment of "I Called Mama" with "Hallelujahville." Songwriters Blake Griffith, Brett Taylor and Tom Douglas capture the dual identity of country folks who love the Lord yet take no lip with lines like "We quote King James like a Waylon song / Pray at night, make love 'til dawn / Love us or leave us the hell alone / Hope you're okay with that."
Real people can relate to these and other lyrics from "Hallelujahville," which is just about all you can ask of a country song.
"Morphine," Ron Pope
On the haunting "Morphine," singer-songwriter Ron Pope reflects on what truly gives his life meaning -- something that has come into clearer focus during these unusual times we're living in.
"At its core, this is a love song; I'm talking about how numbing my life could be before I found someone to care for. More broadly, 'Morphine' is about how aimless life can feel when you don't feel that you have a concrete purpose," Pope says. "Early on in the quarantine, I was really struggling with that. I'm a performer, so if I can't go out and put on a show, who am I? I realized that the love in my life was, in fact, what gave me my true purpose. Once I came to that conclusion, being a stay at home dad felt joyous. My daughter and I got to walk all by ourselves to feed the ducks every day; I watched little changes occur in her that I would've missed if I was on the road. I'd share dinner with my wife across our dinner table each evening, as opposed to trying to sneak in a quick call from some far flung tour stop. It turned out that the love in my life mattered more to me than my job. I guess I always knew that, but this time at home has really reinforced it."
"Morphine" is the first release from Pope's project The Builder, in which the Nashville-based artist will release a song every two weeks for a year.
-- Bobbie Jean Sawyer
"Stompin' Grounds," Reyna Roberts
Reyna Roberts raises a giant jar of moonshine to the South on the sizzling "Stompin' Grounds," an ode to raisin' hell in the Bible Belt.
"I remember when me and Noah Henson (my producer and co-writer), first started writing 'Stompin' Grounds.' He and his family (I think of them as my family, too) had just moved into their new house," Roberts said in a press release. "We were sitting on the floor because his studio wasn't set up yet. There was nothing in the room -- just me, him, and his acoustic guitar. Noah was playing a riff, and I immediately loved it. So, we began to write. We laugh about it now because we didn't even have chairs. So, we recorded a voice memo of the session, and he put parts of the voice memo in the song. We took my influences of Chris Stapleton, Carrie Underwood, Brantley Gilbert, and Brothers Osborne, and put it in a song."
"These are my stompin' grounds/ And don't you forget it/ Ain't a thing in the world that can change it," Robert sings. "And if you don't like that, then you best get to stompin' on/ 'Cause I was raised in the deep, dark, dirty south/ And these are my stompin' grounds."
Country radio, take note.
-- Bobbie Jean Sawyer
"Love Is Not Enough," Lydia Loveless
Lydia Loveless takes aim at those who are all talk and no action when it comes to love and kindness on the melancholy "Love Is Not Enough," the debut single from her forthcoming Daughter (out on Sept. 25).
"So sick and tired of living in a rut/ Love is not enough/ I wonder if it ever was," Loveless sings. "I shouldn't have to bleed you dry to fill me up."
Daughter is the follow-up to 2016's Real and Loveless' first release from her own label.
-- Bobbie Jean Sawyer