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.
"Chestnut Blight," Freakons
Dream alt-country collaboration Freakons combines Freakwater, a force of nature since the late 1980s that's propelled by vocalists Janet Bean and Catherine Irwin, with the Mekons, a band on the ground level of UK punk rock that pivoted over the years to pushing the creative boundaries of country and folk music.
"Chestnut Blight," off the Freakon's self-titled debut album, initially sounds like a cheery back porch picking session. As often happens in the old-time songs and folk ballads being celebrated by the group, the lyrics swiftly take a dark turn.
Indeed, a press release for the album (released March 25 via Fluff & Gravy Records) describes the single as "possibly the most cheerful song ever written about the near-extinction of the American Chestnut tree."
"I'll Fly Away," Reba McEntire
Few gospel standards are as ready-made for homestyle fiddle and acoustic guitar accompaniment as "I'll Fly Away." Mix in Reba McEntire's instantly-recognizable voice, and you've got the right musical recipe to make the most of this 1929 composition by Albert E. Brumley, the father of Buck Owens and Ricky Nelson's go-to steel guitarist, Tom Brumley.
It's just one of several must-hear tracks on My Chains Are Gone, McEntire's new collection of hymns and spiritual songs. A rendition of Bill and Gloria Gaither's "Because He Lives" with a honky-tonk twist and a treatment of altar call "Softly and Tenderly" that teams McEntire with vocal powerhouses Kelly Clarkson and Trisha Yearwood equally deserve a digital spin.
McEntire's version of "I'll Fly Away" previously appeared on Sing It Now: Songs Of Faith & Hope (2017).
-- Bobby Moore
"Highway Boys," Zach Bryan
The second single from Bryan's album American Heartbreak really takes you on an emotional journey. Not only does it feel like Bryan has conflicted feelings about his hometown and current success, but he gives us an honest look at life on the highway with his band while building up his current fanbase. There's a lot to unpack in this song but the new music video really helps provide visuals to the already strong vocals and lyrics like "finally learned the hard way that all good things take time, friend" provided by Bryan.
-- Courtney Fox
"Tom Barrett," Ian Noe
Kentucky singer Ian Noe just released his second album River Fools and Mountain Saints and "Tom Barrett" is definitely a standout track. It paints a deep yet hauntingly dark picture inspired by the veterans who lived in his hometown.
"'Tom Barrett' is about a relentless soldier's life, inspired by local vets I used to know, or knew about," Noe told Under the Radar Mag. "I talk about it a lot but juxtaposing dark themes or subject matter with upbeat melody is something I've always been drawn to. This song is an example of that."
-- Courtney Fox
"Tall Guys," Maren Morris
Maren Morris is proving how much of a country icon she is after releasing her sixth studio album, Humble Quest, on March 25, 2022. I have to say this is definitely one of my favorite albums from Morris, as she showcases her powerful vocals and lyrics all in one.
All the tracks for the album were co-written by the singer herself and was produced by Greg Kurstin. The lead single, "Circles Around This Town," instantly became a fan favorite, but personally, the song that really called out to me was "Tall Guys."
Giving a little shout-out to her husband, Ryan Hurd, Morris sings, "When I can't see over, he puts me on his shoulders/ I can wear my heels real high/ I'm lover of all types/ But there's something 'about tall guys, tall guys." The country-pop album definitely gives a new twist to the singer, and we're all here for it.
-- Silke Jasso
"Livin' My Best Life," Dylan Scott
Dylan Scott is getting ready to release his new album, Livin' My Best Life, which is set to arrive on August 5, 2022. The singer is currently on tour with Dylan Marlowe and is set to hit 22 cities across the United States ending on April 29th.
That hasn't stopped him from sharing new music and celebrating with his fans leading up to the release date. The singer released his latest single, which is the title track of the album, teasing the song on his social media. The song was co-written by Tyler Hubbard, Thomas Rhett, Brian Kelley and Corey Crowder. Safe to say this song is a hit, making you want to dance the night away into summertime.
-- Silke Jasso
READ MORE: Gail Davies Blazed a Trail for Country Women. So Why Has the Country Music Industry Ignored Her?
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