Each week we share new country and Americana songs we're adding to our personal playlists. This week we explore some four bittersweet songs and one psychedelic recording from a country legend.
"Bottle By My Bed," Sunny Sweeney
Songs about the difficulty of being a musician are not uncommon in country music, but seldom do they present the perspective of Sunny Sweeney's new single, "Bottle By My Bed." The Texas-based singer-songwriter laments not being able to have a child because of the path she's chosen in life. The bottle by her bed is not Jack Daniel's, but rather a baby bottle. It's a deeply personal song that Sweeney co-wrote with Grammy-award winning songwriter Lori McKenna, a mother of five. Look for Sweeney's new album, Trophy, on March 10.
"Everyone's Looking for Home," Sam Outlaw
In his new single, California crooner Sam Outlaw offers a bittersweet perspective on what you have to leave behind, or rather put on hold, as a musician while you chase this thing called music. The song seems to be written from the perspective of his wife as a letter to Outlaw the road. The accompanying video mixes clips of Outlaw and his band on the road with clips back home from his wife and newborn son. Look for this song and other soul-baring tracks on Outlaw's new album, Tenderheart, out April 14.
"Dirty Rain," Andrew Combs
It's no surprise that our cities, towns and the natural world we live in are all changing at an overwhelming rate. In "Dirty Rain," Americana singer-songwriter Andrew Combs tries to grapple with the overwhelming reality that the world is going to be a lot more polluted, overcrowded and gentrified for the next generation. "Poison river, muddy water, a dead man's field/Plastic people stacked in towers, with nowhere to go." A deeply sensitive singer, Combs voice and lyrics on "Dirty Rain" take its message straight to the heart.
"Way Out West," Marty Stuart
Marty Stuart, one of traditional country's greatest modern champions, returns this year with Way Out West. The title track is a hallucinatory road trip through the American West. Stuart pops a green pill and trips balls, then takes a blue pill to mellow out, but falls deeper down the rabbit hole as it goes. Stuart says the song is a love letter of sorts to the West. From a listener's standpoint, it captures the mystique of the American desert that has beckoned many musical greats, like Gram Parsons, the Doors and Eagles, to wander through its expenses under the guidance of psychedelics.
"Humble and Kind," Lori McKenna
At Sunday's Grammy ceremony, Lori McKenna took home Best Country Song for "Humble and Kind." You've probably heard Tim McGraw's hit version of this song a hundred times now, but it's worth revisiting McKenna's cut. A mother of five, McKenna says she wrote the song for her daughters. Each line was intended as a message for a different daughter. The commandments she offers really apply to any human alive, and in our chaotic social state, this message is worth absorbing.