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.
If you slept on Escondido‘s 2016 LP Walking With a Stranger, you missed out on some of the most spirited and infectious alt-country around. Now, the duo is gearing up to release their new record Warning Bells, due out Sept. 14. This fresh cut from the record brings back all the elements that made me love their sound from the beginning — stylish vocals, clever lyrics and undeniable instrumentation.
Bobbie Jean’s Pick: “One More Red Light,” Cassadee Pope
Rachel’s Pick: “Strong and Tender,” Eli Conley
Eli Conley spoke with me a few months ago about his involvement in the queer country scene. It was also on the eve of his wedding. As a listener, it felt a like a good time to catch him — about to embark on an important chapter and reflecting on all of his accomplishments so far. On his latest album, Strong and Tender, Conley’s truly mastered his craft. The songs here examine our most important relationships: romantic ones, of course, and the ambiguity they can contain; our gender identities, and our relationships with ourselves and our mortality. On “Strong and Tender,” Conley dives into the aftermath of a painful conflict and the ways those separations can reverberate many years later.
Annalise’s Pick: “Get Back to the City,” Juanita Stein
Imagine Lana Del Rey on horseback heading toward Joshua Tree as the sun sets, and you’ll hear Juanita Stein’s voice as she sings “You gotta get back to a place you know well.” The Australian frontwoman cut her teeth in the indie rock band Howling Bells and recently stepped out on her own as a solo artist in 2017 with her debut, America. As artists like Kacey Musgraves and Ruby Boots bend pop and rock into country, Stein bends country to her will, creating a dreamy, hazy 70s landscape in her songs. “Get Back to the City” urges the listeners who have settled for someone beneath them in exchange for some kind of long term committed relationship (who can relate) to snap out of it, recognize her worth, and get back to making happy the only person that matters: Themselves.