Wide Open Country's Six Pack: Hayes Carll, Stephanie Jacques + More

David McClister

Every week, the Wide Open Country team rounds up our favorite newly released country, folk, bluegrass and Americana songs. Here are six songs we currently have on repeat.

"Because of That," Stephanie Jacques

Stephanie Jacques pleads for empathy with "Because of That" while sharing hard truths about her experience in America as a Black person.

"As a society we judge so much, the way people look, act, their income level," Jacques wrote in a press release. "It's easy to judge someone by appearance or situation, but to walk in their shoes is a harder choice. We can't always do that so I wanted to share a bit of me and my truth. The judgements I have faced and the fears I have had. At the worst these judgements can get you killed as we have seen so openly in America. So take a moment and listen. My hope is we can all be a little more empathetic and open."

Jacques co-wrote the song with Casadee Pope. It was produced by Alex Kline.

A portion of proceeds made by the song will benefit the Color Me Country Artist Grant Fund.

-- Bobby Moore

"New Old Trucks," James Barker Band and Dierks Bentley

Lyrics about pickup trucks don't have to be cliche, as there's worthwhile stories to be told about the fondness a driver develops for a trusty vehicle after about 200K miles worth of life's ups and downs. Dierks Bentley gets this, as evidenced by nods over the years to a '94 Chevy called Big White, and he brings his subject expertise to Canadian group the James Barker Band's "New Old Trucks."

"We were so surprised no one had written this song yet," JBB namesake James Barker told Sounds Like Nashville about a new spin on a country song trope. "When we got in the room to write a few months ago, two of us actually came separately with this exact idea so we knew we had something good. When writing songs you always want every lyric to be true but sometimes you have to stretch things a bit. That wasn't the case with this -- every lyric was something one of us had experienced; the first line is actually about my first truck."

Barker wrote the song with Jordan Minton, Hunter Phelps and Casey Brown.

-- Bobby Moore

"I Think About You," Harper Grae

Rising country star Harper Grae chronicles the ups and downs of past relationships on "I Think About You," which explores how even the smallest occurrence can spark a memory of an old flame.

"At least in my story, I have found that when you find someone new all of your exes start falling out of the woodworks," Grae told American Songwriter. "And they are maybe wanting to get you back, or it's like this weird wedge. So when I met Dawn, I had so many exes come back into my space saying 'You never think about me' or 'You don't even talk to me anymore.' That's true, but it's also not true--I think about you, it just doesn't mean that I pick up the phone to talk to you. And I had many friends that had similar experiences, so I was like 'Maybe there's something to that.'"

Grae, a member of CMT's Next Women of Country Class of 2021, is currently on tour with Josh Kelley.

-- Bobbie Jean Sawyer

"Help Me Remember," Hayes Carll

Hayes Carll's stunning "Help Me Remember" is a moving and empathetic look at the impact of Alzheimer's, something the singer-songwriter knows all too well.

"I was fourteen years-old and sitting in the passenger seat of my grandfather's truck in Waco, TX, the town he had lived in for most of his life," Carll says in a statement. "He turned to me at a stoplight and asked me where we were. He looked scared. I know I was. I've thought a lot since then about what it must feel like to lose the thread of your own story. This song is for the people who've experienced what my grandfather did, those that are experiencing it currently, and for those who serve as their witnesses and caregivers."

"Help Me Remember" is featured on Carll's forthcoming album You Get it All (out Oct. 29).

-- Bobbie Jean Sawyer

"Boyfriend Season," Matt Stell

Following his previous releases "Better Than This" and "That Ain't Me No More" Matt Stell has officially released his latest song, "Boyfriend Season." The Arkansas artist rose to fame with his song "Prayed For You" back in 2019, with his EP Everywhere But On becoming platinum-certified. In comes "Boyfriend Season" which talks about breakups and starting over after losing the one you love. It's truly a beautiful, but heartbreaking, song that makes you re-evaluate self-love.

Stell sings, "Tell em' everything happens for a reason, so you don't have to own this broken heart, mix another white lie with another red wine. Tell yourself every time you try to close your eyes that you're gonna find somebody better, girl, whatever helps you sleep at night."

The catchy tune is a classic country song that makes you want to roll down the windows and drive down an empty dirt road. I think it's safe to say this song is going to hit the charts sooner than later.

--Silke Jasso

"Heartless," Erin Grand

There is something about Erin Grand's voice that immediately reels me in. "Heartless" was inspired by Grand's own love and losses. It was written by Grand, alongside Alex Kiel, Channing Krentz and Jonathan Krentz.

Speaking with Everything Nash, Grand stated, "The story behind this song is that I had been dating these same few people on and off throughout this specific time in my life. They weren't good for me and I knew they weren't the right ones deep down, but they would always play with my heart and I would let my heart play along. Long story short I learned I needed to trust my heart less. I was thinking too much with my heart and taking in what these people were saying to me too seriously. I know everyone says to trust your heart but in my experience I needed to try thinking with my head and not my heart this time. Hence the line, 'I gotta trust my heart less."

The true beauty of a musician is putting in your personal experience in what you write and sing, which is exactly what Grant did. Boy did it work, because this song is definitely going in my Country Favorites playlist. Grand is known for her previous releases, "Better With Wine," "Lonley Does" and "Mood."

--Silke Jasso


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Wide Open Country's Six Pack: Hayes Carll, Stephanie Jacques + More