Wide Open Country’s Artists to Watch
Zachary Gray

Wide Open Country Weekly Must-Listens: Savannah Conley, Dwight Yoakam 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: "Never Be Ourselves," Savannah Conley

If you haven't heard Savannah Conley, you've missed out on one of the best new voices in the country realm. I picked her as an Artist to Watch in 2018 for good reason, and the proof is in songs like "Never Be Ourselves." Featured on Conley's Dave Cobb-produced EP, Twenty-Twenty, the track showcases the Tennessee native's powerful, cutting vocals alongside rolling electric guitar.

Bobbie Jean's Pick: "Pretty Horses," Dwight Yoakam

Is Dwight Yoakam even capable of writing a bad song? I don't think so. Between launching a brand new Sirius XM station and embarking on a tour with fellow living legends Lucinda Williams and Steve Earle, Yoakam released the gorgeous Bakersfield shuffle "Pretty Horses." The organ-laden track places Yoakam's Buck Owens and Wynn Stewart influences on full display with classic Dwight lyrics that further prove why artists — from the late great Roger Miller to recent collaborator Chris Stapleton — have jumped at the chance to work with him.

Rachel's Pick: "Tougher Locks and Stronger Keys," Paul Sanchez

Paul Sanchez has been through a lot, to say the least. A founding member of New Orleans rockers Cowboy Mouth, Paul lost his home (and everything in it) to Hurricane Katrina. He's been reckoning with the aftershocks of such a seismic shift in his life sense. On his new album One More Trip Around the Sun, the prolific songwriter's core shines through even as he spreads his wings musically. Sanchez is a folk singer at heart, though One More Trip sees him returning to previous lives with 50s R&B and 80s New Wave in some of his songs. "Tougher Locks and Stronger Keys," is a blues stomper with New Orleans swag that is a reminder of the power of love. Sanchez is supported by Sarah Quintana and Ray Ganacheau, who both helped write the instrumental part. Credit also goes to lyricist Eliot Kamenitz.

Bobby's Pick: "Wild! Wild! Wild!," Robbie Fulks and Linda Gail Lewis

For his newest ode to rock music's Deep South roots, Americana maverick Robbie Fulks comes just a family tree branch away from working directly with his source material. He teams with Linda Gail Lewis, the younger sister of rock pioneer and should-be Country Music Hall of Famer Jerry Lee Lewis, on the collaborative album Wild! Wild! Wild!, out Aug. 10 on Bloodshot Records. Its title track is satisfyingly derivative of Sun Records' piano-driven rebellion, with lyrics about how wild hearts like those of the 1950's still beat freely—a notion backed up by Linda Gail's ageless musical fervor. 

Jeremy's Pick: "The Hard Way," The Shires

UK duo The Shires released their new album Accidentally On Purpose just over a month ago. The first track on the record and a true duet, "The Hard Way" is a great example of the pair's chemistry. With hints of American country acts like Lady Antebellum and Thompson Square, The Shires craft great contemporary country that, despite its fairly "play it safe" sound, carries plenty of heart and the kind of syrupy sweet voices that translate across the pond. The Shires became the first English act to sign to a major Nashville label as well as the recipient of the Country Music Association's 'Jeff Walker Global Artist Award' in 2017.

Thomas' Pick: "To My Dearest Wife," Lucero

As invigorating and lively as Lucero's raw and aggressive punk-edged bingers may be, the band's quiet moments are when Ben Nichols and company truly shine their brightest. "To My Dearest Wife," the latest single from the Memphis outfit's upcoming album, Among the Ghosts (Aug. 3), is one of these. Inspired by letters back home by Civil War soldiers, Nichols does fine work describing the backdrop and theater through the foggy and hazy lens of war. Though he's unflinching and still, there's a tension mounting. You see him close his eyes remembering his wife, family and Tennessee home as he sings at dawn. As much as Nichols is looking to occupy his mind with something else, he can't help but be consumed by the eventual battle drawing near. You feel a historical weight pressing through just as much as the heartbreaking tale. It's black and white photos come to life. It's the calm before a storm.

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