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: “Downtown’s Dead,” Sam Hunt
Yes, I am a Sam Hunt fan — you can send all hate mail to my personal Twitter account. Things have certainly changed since he released his record-breaking debut record Montevallo dropped in 2014, but his new single “Downtown’s Dead” stays true to his trademark sound. Although some of the musical elements sound a little too rooted in the early 2000’s for my liking at times, the lyrics (which also act as a nod to his Montevallo track “Single for the Summer”) are what sucked me in.
Bobbie Jean’s Pick: “Takin’ Me a Heartbreak,” Randall King
If you find yourself turning to your well-curated ’90s country playlists more than current country radio, look no further than newcomer Randall King. King’s recently released self-titled LP calls back to the golden age of late ’80s and early ’90s country radio. It’s no wonder Garth Brooks is singing his praises. King’s music hits the sweet spot between the polished sounds of neo-traditionalist country and freewheeling honky tonk. “Takin’ Me a Heartbreak” is a Strait-worthy tune with an anthemic chorus (“This heart can take a beatin’, tough as nails/it’s used to bein’ hammered on”) for anyone still reeling from pain from a long-gone love.
Rachel’s Pick: “The Thistle,” Brenna Sahatjian
Portland, Ore.-based Brenna Sahatjian truly understands economy of words. Sahatjian’s new album, Knotted Orbits, weaves complex themes of the environment, the search for self, and political attacks on the two into eight songs that straddle folk, punk, and grunge. “The Thistle” is a cleverly-written memoir that encapsulates the ways these themes travel through the entire album.
Bobby’s Pick: “All My Shades of Blue,” The Ruen Brothers
A ’60s crazed duo more in tune with the harmonious Everly Brothers than the raucous Rolling Stones, the UK-based Ruen Brothers‘ treatment of decade-specific pop should appeal to fans of classic country and early rockabilly. That’s especially true on the melodramatic, Roy Orbison-inspired title track from forthcoming album All My Shades of Blue.
Rick Rubin produced All My Shades of Blue, an ambitious album featuring the additional talents of Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith, The Killers guitarist Dave Keuning and legendary Faces/Small Faces guitarist Ian McLagan. It arrives June 1 via the Avett Brothers’ label home, Ramseur Records.
Jeremy’s Pick: “Living,” Dierks Bentley
At first listen, Dierks Bentley’s song “Living” feels almost too simple. Until you realize that’s the entire point, because the song is all about enjoying the simplicity in life. And while it’s far from the first country song to take the “step back and appreciate what you’ve got” mentality, it’s the first one in awhile that paints a picture where you can really feel Bentley living the words of the song. Sometimes we tend to forget how the simplest ideas can mean so much and resonate with so many people. And “Living” is a great testament to that.