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:
"Beyond This Wall," Jake Blount
Jake Blount, an award-winning banjoist, fiddler, singer and scholar, offers a stunning collection of black folk and Appalachian music on Spider Tales -- from a stirring rendition of Lead Belly's "Where Did You Sleep Last Night" to the gorgeous instrumental "Beyond This Wall."
"Walls are at the forefront of social and political discourse in our country" Blount said in a recent interview with Ian Zolitor on WXPN. "And it's important to remember all the walls that have been built before and the fate that befell all of them."
-- Bobbie Jean Sawyer
"Fight," Wyatt Waddell
After seeing the global protests that followed George Floyd's killing by a Minneapolis police officer, Chicago-based artist Wyatt Waddell recorded and released the powerful tune "Fight" in less than 24 hours.
"This has been a hard and trying time for black lives. These events have left me angry, scared, and confused," Waddell said in a press release. "I then remembered what Nina Simone once said: an artist's duty... is to reflect the times...I hope that it can be an anthem for my people as they're fighting for a better America."
The song's video features footage from the protests and tributes to victims of police brutality and racial injustice, including Emmett Till, George Stinney, Rodney King, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmed Aubrey, Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin, Laquan McDonald, Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Carol Denise McNair.
"And there ain't nothin else we can do but to fight/ Nothin to do but fight," Waddell sings. "Stand up to fight/ It's your moral right/ To stand against divide."
-- Bobbie Jean Sawyer
"Richest Man," Balsam Range
One of the best bands in bluegrass puts the pursuit of money in perspective with this reminder that the richest man in the graveyard is no better off on this side of eternity than all the poor folks buried nearby. If you like what you hear, check out Aeonic, one one of the best 2019 albums by any act from any genre.
"The Graduation Song," John Berry
Trust John Berry to make the right emotional statement at the right time.
His "Graduation Song" celebrates and comforts the Class of 2020. This group of high school seniors scatted across the country spent the final weeks leading up to a personal milestone separated from the friends and educators they'll always associate with a transformative time in their lives. Berry's lyrics commemorate all the moments these teenagers didn't miss before circumstances handed them a raw deal.
"Hell Bent," Clint Black
It seems like we spotlight a new Clint Black song just about every week as the June 19 release date of his Out of Sane album draws near. This time around, he's singing about being hell bent for leather in what's, for better or worse, not a Judas Priest cover. Instead, Black and frequent co-writer Hayden Nicholas ("A Better Man," "Killin' Time") revisit the bluesy, Southern rock sounds and stories at the heart of numerous hits by Black's '90s country running buddies.