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:
"Easy to Love," Will Banister
At a time when Jon Pardi, Ashley McBryde and other students of '90s country are the talk of Nashville, lesser-known artists from far-reaching places are cutting their own homages to the tail-end of the 20th century. For proof, look no further than New Mexico's own Will Banister. Tracy Lawrence, John Michael Montgomery and scores of other past stars would've jumped at the chance to cut "Easy to Love," a heartfelt Banister original you could sneak onto a retro playlist without anyone noticing.
"South of Sylva," A. Lee Edwards
Pretty much anyone who's heard A. Lee Edwards over the past 25 years knows that the former member of the bands Lou Ford and The Loudermilks deserves billing as a poet more so than a songwriter. The man's got a way with words for sure, and per new song "South of Sylva," his writing muscle's far from atrophied. Hopefully, this one's a sign of things to come from one of North Carolina's most gifted songsmiths.
"If I Needed You," Tracy Grammer
Tracy Grammer, a Florida-born folk artist and the longtime musical partner of the late Dave Carter, recently shared her version of one of the most gorgeous country songs of the past 50 years, "If I Needed You." Townes Van Zandt wrote what's become a measuring stick for some of the all-time great songwriters and stylists, with prior covers of note performed by Lyle Lovett, Guy Clark, Kacey Chambers, Joey + Rory and, most famously, Don Williams and Emmylou Harris. Grammer adds her name to that proud lineage by wringing every drop of emotion from Van Zandt's immortal lyrics.
"Loving Her," Katie Pruitt
Katie Pruitt finds freedom in a declaration of love on the stunning "Loving Her," from her new album Expectations. Pruitt wrote the song about falling in love with her girlfriend and grappling with the fact that some people in her life would object to her being in a same-sex relationship.
"If loving her hurts then I'll keep on hurting/ if it means staying true to who I am," Pruitt sings. "You may not agree but, like me, you're learning/ that people don't like what they don't understand."
Expectations was recorded in Nashville and features 10 songs written solely by Pruitt.
-- Bobbie Jean Sawyer
"The Day All the Yes Men Said No," Bobby Bare
On Great American Saturday Night (out April 17), country legend Bobby Bare shares his previously unheard 1978 concept album,, which was written entirely by late poet and country songwriter (and frequent Bare collaborator) Shel Silverstein. "The Day all the Yes Men Said No" is Bare and Silverstein at their best, a wry song about a group of characters, from a businessman evoking Johnny Paycheck's "Take This Job and Shove It" to a fed up wife tired of being unappreciated, standing up for themselves. Fans of Bare's classic 1973 record Lullabys, Legends and Lies are sure to love this one.
-- Bobbie Jean Sawyer