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.
"Sweet Emmylou," Erin Enderlin
Okie isn't the only must-hear new release featuring the familiar voice of Vince Gill. Country music's patron saint of sensitivity and his fellow bluegrass prodigy turned roots music ambassador Alison Krauss guest on songwriter Erin Enderlin's ode to Emmylou Harris, "Sweet Emmylou." Enderlin's lead character finds that the only cure for a broken heart involved dusting off Harris records whenever "he's gone again, like the 'Hickory Wind'"-- a brilliantly done reference to Harris' former creative and romantic partner Gram Parsons. The song appears on Enderlin's third digital EP of the year, Whatever Gets You Through the Night.
"I'm Afraid," Jason Hawk Harris
Jason Hawk Harris' debut solo album includes a raucous revisiting of alt-country for former church kids. Like many of us with similar upbringings, Harris drifted from his family's faith in college, only to rediscover religion without the rhetoric. It's three chords, in the punk rock and old country music sense, plus harsh doses of the truth about the doubts and fears faced by even the most devout believers.
"Seminole Wind Calling," Tanya Tucker
It's hard to pick just one song from Tanya Tucker's While I'm Livin'. From start to finish, the Brandi Carlile and Shooter Jennings-produced album does a living legend's nearly 50 years in the public eye justice. Yet one track should stand out to fans of Tucker's '70s output as a teenage sensation. Despite being written recently by Carlile and her twin bandmates Phil and Tim Hanseroth, "Seminole Wind Calling" sounds like a forgotten B-side that's aged gracefully. You could probably convince a knowledgeable country music fan that this song, named for Tucker's hometown of Seminole, Texas, inspired John Anderson's "Seminole Wind."
-- Bobby Moore
"Nothin' Like a Guy Clark Song," Vince Gill
Merle Haggard isn't the only country legend Vince Gill pays tribute to on his recently released Okie. The Country Music Hall of Fame member tips his hat to another hero -- the late Guy Clark -- on the reverent "Nothin' Like A Guy Clark Song." Gill, himself now an idol to a new generation of poets and troubadours, offers up lyrical symbols of Clark's greatness -- from old blue shirts and Randall knifes to Sis Draper and Rita Ballou -- like a prayer. The last verse nods to Clark's own reflection on mortality, "Desperadoes Waiting For a Train," and another old friend of Gill and Guy's, Rodney Crowell. "What do you do when your heroes die? Man, you let 'em roll/ You let 'em fly," Gill sings. "'Cause desperadoes don't worry or wonder why/ Well, son of a bitch, old Rodney's gonna miss you, Guy."
--Bobbie Jean Sawyer
"Storybook," Leslie Stevens
Leslie Stevens' Sinner is one of the best albums I've heard this year and the gently rolling "Storybook," a cosmic country Alice and Wonderland trip through the looking glass where "love is real and everything else is an illusion," is the perfect intro to the brilliant 10-song collection.
-- Bobbie Jean Sawyer
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