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Wide Open Country's Weekly Must-Listens: Dawn Landes, Ian Noe and More

Shervin Lainez

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: "Why They Name Whiskey After Men," Dawn Landes

During last week's AmericanaFest showcases, I was finally able to see Dawn Landes perform a small sampling of tracks from her new record Meet Me at the River. This honky-tonk anthem rightfully compares the slow burn of a fine whiskey to the ups and downs that come with loving a man.

Bobbie Jean's Pick: "Drunken Angel," Alynda Segarra

I haven't even seen the Ethan Hawke-directed Blaze Foley biopic "Blaze" yet, but its soundtrack is already on steady rotation for me. Though it's filled with covers of Foley's timeless songs, as well as a stirring cover of Blaze's old pal Townes Van Zandt (performed by onscreen-Van Zandt Charlie Sexton), the one tune I keep coming back to is Alynda Segarra's poignant rendition of Lucinda Williams' "Drunken Angel," a song Williams wrote for and about Blaze Foley. Segarra, who appears in the film, delivers a bare-bones version of the song, allowing the words of Williams' haunting tribute to ring out like a eulogy for a poet who left the world too soon.

Rachel's Pick: "Heart and Mind," Courtney Marie Andrews

If your tear ducts need a workout, Courtney Marie Andrews will do that for you and give you some tips on resisting the patriarchy. Andrews' new song is a balm for those who have survived sexual harassment and trauma. Andrews "wanted to write a song that embodies the importance of empowerment when you feel weakened by misrepresentation and/or sexual harassment." The song centers on the image of family members -- specifically mothers and brothers -- and their relationship with the young women in their lives. The video features old home movies of mothers and their children. This was intentional on Andrews' part: "Even if our bodies have been misused or taken advantage of, we have the power to speak with our hearts and minds. The most powerful way to display that message is with simple conversations with those who love us. The mother/daughter bond is incredibly powerful, and I use that to embody protection and safety in this song and video."

Bobby's Pick: "Peaches and Pecans," Matt Rogers

Nashville via Eatonton, Ga. singer and songwriter Matt Rogers' new single "Peaches and Pecans" praises home state pride and his beloved Georgia Bulldogs. He sets the table for a football Saturday in the South with sweet tea, cold beer and his favorite brand of biscuits. Instead of just stringing together regional buzzwords, Rogers paints a vivid picture that uplifts the positive, neighborly elements of Southernness. It effectively describes what makes Georgians tick, as does Luke Bryan's "Most People Are Good" and quite a few songs by fellow Dawgs devotees Corey Smith and Travis Tritt.

Jeremy's Pick: "The Bullet," Carrie Underwood

Carrie Underwood goes deeper than ever before on several themes on her new album Cry Pretty, but the one seeming to catch a lot of peoples' attention is this song. Underwood says she included "The Bullet" on the album in part due to the aftermath of the Las Vegas shooting. She didn't write the song -- that credit belongs to Andy Albert, Marc Beeson, and Allen Shamblin. But her inclusion of a song about gun violence that she didn't write almost underscores the personal importance more. That being said, don't let the fact that it's about the aftermath of shooting violence distract from the fact that it's just a wonderfully written and performed song about the emotional toll sudden loss takes on a family.

Olivia's Pick: "Off This Mountaintop," Ian Noe

Bittersweet and nostalgic of '60s folk country, "Off This Mountaintop" by singer-songwriter Ian Noe is a vision of a song. Careful lyrics illustrate the effort of coming down from isolation to open up for vulnerability, told through a silvery, robust voice. It's the title track of his EP, his only release so far. Noe's songwriting is poetic, lyrics like "those Southern storms blowing sound like a haunted train" twisting just the right amount of sadness into hopeful storytelling. Slightly twangy and romantic, the acoustic guitar and echoey vocals twinkle with promise.

Thomas' Pick: "Westgate," Rod Melancon

Rod Melancon's "Westgate" plays out like a coming-of-age rocker for a Richard Linklater film. You hear it as the opening credits pop on and off the screen as it rolls on through with an arial shot of whatever small southern town. Melancon, an Austin by way of Wright, La. songwriter delivers the barroom ripper with an swagger of another early era, perhaps the '50s or something. It's rolled up sleeves with a pack of cigarettes kind. Melancon's snarling delivery shows that he can certainly howl, but here on "Westgate," his best lines are delivered with a spoken word cadence closer to a Ray Wylie Hubbard or Patterson Hood of Drive By Truckers. The dry wit in his storytelling comes across better this way. Its chorus may be simple bluesy barroom, but it's as infectious a toe-tapping groove as they come. By the time he rolls through twice, you're shouting right along.

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Wide Open Country's Weekly Must-Listens: Dawn Landes, Ian Noe and More