Wide Open Country Weekly Must-Listens
Ryan Nolan

Wide Open Country Weekly Must-Listens: Ben Danaher, Lydia Luce and More

Here at Wide Open Country, we love sharing our favorite music, whether it's a brand new track that you haven't heard or an oldie that deserves some new attention. Each week, our team of music writers spotlight one song that stands out among the pack. Here's what we're listening to this week.

Lorie's Pick: "Azalea," Lydia Luce

This brand new track from Lydia Luce is a lush, haunting gem that's been on repeat for me all week. Luce is a classically trained musician and previously toured with Sam Outlaw as a fiddle player, but she is a unique artist in her own right. This year, she also rolled out two solid tracks, "Helen" and "Sausolito," which means a full release may not be far away. Don't miss the boat on this one.

Bobbie Jean's Pick: "My Father's Blood," Ben Danaher

Just before Father's Day, singer-songwriter Ben Danaher released "My Father's Blood," a tribute to his own late songwriter father. Written by Danaher and Erik Dylan, it's a gorgeous, vulnerable and delicate song that reflects on how we're shaped by the figures in our life even after they're gone.
"I'd be just another melody without a song to sing, I wouldn't even know who I was without my father's blood," Danaher sings. Like Guy Clark's classic "Randall Knife," "My Father's Blood" explores a life well lived through the tools of the trade, words and scars left behind.

Rachel's Pick: "Lavender Country," Lavender Country

Patrick Haggerty's band Lavender Country released their first and only album in 1973. Though the album has since earned him a spot in the Country Music Hall of Fame, Lavender Country was too radical for most people at the time. It is, after all, the first known explicitly queer country album. Paradise of Bachelors re-released the album in 2014, and the album is still quite biting and strident. Most of it is, frankly, not safe for work, but the album's closer, "Lavender Country," paints a peaceful, utopian picture of queer liberation for trans*, gender-nonconforming, and queer people of all stripes in the rainbow — an inclusive model that artists of 2018 would do well to follow.

Bobby's Pick: "Milwaukee Blues," David Davis and the Warrior River Boys

If old-time string band music is your speed, check out David Davis and the Warrior River Boys' Didn't He Ramble: Songs of Charlie Poole. Davis, an Alabama native and nephew of original Blue Grass Boys member Cleo Davis, pays tribute to an innovative finger-picking banjo player with this cover of "Milwaukee Blues." Poole is hardly a hidden treasure, with past tributes paid by everyone from Joan Baez to Hot Tuna. Still, the North Carolina Ramblers' story is one that's still worth teaching to roots music enthusiasts. 

Jeremy's Pick: "Not the Only," Sugarland

On the last track from their new album Bigger, Sugarland really get to the heart of the whole record. "Not The Only" is a beautiful song about loneliness, heartbreak, resilience and strength in community. It's a tender song that's ok with not offering any resounding positivity while still bending towards the light. There's a lot of emotional gray area in the song, and that's what makes it one of the best from the new record.

Thomas' Pick: "Can You Hear Me," Ryan Culwell

Last week, West Texas native Ryan Culwell released "Can You Hear Me," the first track on his newly announced The Last American (due out Aug. 24), the third album of his career and follow-up to Flatlands, a Texas Panhandle masterpiece. Culwell's "Can You Hear Me" is shaped by the turbulent and unstable times we're living in now. Inspired by Eric Garner, an African-American man who died after being choked by New York City police, "Can You Hear Me" is marked by Garner's final words—the repetitive "I can't breathe." Much like Bruce Springsteen or Steve Earle, Culwell's "Can You Hear Me" occupies a space that's deftly aware of itself. It's the simplicity within the title that's Culwell's most keen observation on Modern America. Through the shimmering of haunting guitars and spaced-out effects, Cullwell asks how you can even begin to understand if you're not even willing to listen.

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