We're about halfway through the year and we've seen some pretty inspiring new songs. From longtime favorites to completely unheard-of newcomers, the country scene is as surprising as it is diverse.
"Clear Isabel," Aaron Watson
On Aaron Watson's new album Vaquero, he pays close attention to crafting intriguing narratives. "Clear Isabel" is by far one of his most interesting and well-written yarns spun on the record. Coupled with an infectious melody and driving beat, the tune is a standout on a strong album where Watson expands his boundaries further than before.
"They Need Each Other," Brandon Rhyder
Brandon Rhyder is a bit of an unsung hero in the Texas country world. His first new song in quite a while, "They Need Each Other" is a beautifully written ode to realistic love. Rhyder features co-writer Lori McKenna on the track, and it's an absolute delight. The stripped down production suits their vocals perfectly and, as you'd expect, it's written wonderfully.
"July," Dalton Domino
Dalton Domino is poised to become one of Texas country's next big successes. On his new song "July," Domino hones in on everything the younger fans love about Texas country. His Tom Petty-esque deliver and chugging guitars borders on rock n' roll (not unlike William Clark Green) and the song's bitter taste feels perfectly for scorned lovers and those generally pessimistic college kids.
"Somebody Else's Problem," Troy Cartwright
Following in a similar vein as Dalton Domino, Dallas native Troy Cartwright swings even closer to drunken poet territory but in a bit of a refined way. The Berklee College of Music grad kind of feels like a little bit of Ryan Adams meets Eric Church meets red dirt roots.
"The Old Guard," Slaid Cleaves
Easily the most traditional tune on the list, "The Old Guard" falls closer in the world of classic country than anything else. But Slaid Cleaves tells a familiar tale in an amazingly refreshing way. His commentary on old country music versus new country music comes in a completely genuine, human way that doesn't seem to point any fingers or send out any shots. It's just a reality of the way it is.
"Bottle By My Bed," Sunny Sweeney
Sunny Sweeney has worked her ass off. Along the way, she's built a bit of a persona as a bit of a rough n' tumble rocker, but on "Bottle By My Bed" she strips everything bare. It's a haunting look at the constant push and pull between career success and the desire to build a family of her own. Spoiler alert. The "bottle" in the song is not what you think.
"Here I Come," John Baumann
One of our Texas artists to watch in 2017, John Baumann released a great new body of songs last month in Proving Grounds. Album opener "Here I Come" is tribute to Texas' music roots married with Baumann's own aspirations and dreams. The autobiographical tune is a darn good introduction for anybody unfamiliar with him as of yet.
"No Genie In This Bottle," Jason Eady
Jason Eady's self-titled 2017 album featured no shortage of stripped-down, understated gems. But "No Genie In This Bottle" is one of his finest tunes yet. The way it effortlessly flows off his tongue with a minor skip and hop while still feeling incredibly regretful is a masterclass in songwriting nuance.
"Endless Summer," Vandoliers
There's nobody like Vandoliers in the Texas country space, that's for damn sure. And truly, probably nobody like them in the overall country umbrella altogether. The punk-inspired band takes the energy to a whole new level while still capturing the overall vibe of red dirt heroes. The DFW-area band is well on their way, releasing two albums in two years and touring across the country.
"No Good News," Charlie And The Regrets
This one is a major deep cut. But this song deserves way more love than it's gotten so far. The song focuses on the downside of living in a boom-or-bust economy like the one that essentially built the entire Houston metro area.