This week’s list of new releases includes the latest from Kasey Musgraves, the juggernaut of the summer with a huge predicted first week of sales on the horizon. Also new is the debut from Canaan Smith, the Sugar Hill Records debut from Corey Smith, new singles and new EPs from a handful of new artists including Kristen Kelly and Cypress Spring.
Canaan Smith - Bronco (Mercury Records)
With a Gold Top 10 hit in “Love You Like That,” Smith’s off to a great start with Bronco. A majority of what’s offered on the album will not pass as “country” for many (expecially future hits like “Love At First Sip” and “Stompin’ Grounds” and “Two Lane Road”) but “Hole In A Bottle” is a good time while “One Of Those” recalls Jake Owen but it’s the title track “Bronco” which is easily the best song on the album. For me, it has a similar tone to it that Kip Moore’s “Hey Pretty Girl” did musically but there’s more of an anthemic nostalgia in the lyrics as it’s about that feeling of owning your first vehicle and what that freedom means. It also is a song about his family. It’s a song of the year type of song and proves how simple country music can be, where it’s just him and an electric guitar.
Worry Dolls - Burden [EP] (Independent)
If you can imagine what Taylor Swift and Kimberly Perry would sound like if they were a folksy/indie duo then you get the idea of who the Worry Dolls are. They’re an interesting indie Americana act and the 4 songs here showcase strong songwriting and a gift for melody. The Burden EP may be a bit coffee house but it should find an audience.
Cypress Spring - Way Of Life [EP] (Backroad Records/Average Joes Entertainment)
The rural rappers are joined by The Lacs and Danny Boone on first single and title track Way of Life. These guys have a flow that is stronger than the average newcomer in this genre and it’s easy to see why Average Joes Entertainment was quick to sign them to their growing roster of rural rap artists. “Way of Life” talks about their roots and way they live in the country while “Country Girl Twerk” may be the first rural rap club banger. “Drop A Tailgate” recalls Sublime while “Put That On My Everything” and “Run Through It” showcase the duo’s potential to break out with Colt Ford, The Lacs, Danny Boone, Bubba Sparxxx and Big Smo as the leaders of the underground rural rap movement.
Kacey Musgraves - Pageant Material (Mercury Records)
With her first album in over two years, Kacey Musgraves easily avoids a sophomore slump with Pageant Material. Working with the same team of co-writers (Shane McAnally, Luke Laird, Brandy Clark, Josh Osborne) as her first album project, Musgraves shows some artistic growth on Pageant Material. The album is more cohesive and showcases a singer/songwriter who is comfortable with who she is, even if she comes off a bit ‘preachy’ or on a soapbox at times. Still, “High Time” sets the tone for the record and it’s retro country/pop vibe, a vibe that runs through the record with standouts like second single “Dimestore Cowgirl,” the pretty love ballad “Late To The Party” and the title track, “Pageant Material,” a song which recalls “Flowers On The Wall” and Nancy Sinatra at times and Karen Carpenter at others. It’s an interesting aesthetic. Willie Nelson guests on the hidden bonus cover of “Are You Sure” a song that really fits well with her country music presented here. If people are looking for a way to make modern country music (at least in topics), Pageant Material is a great start.
Corey Smith - While The Gettin’ Is Good (Sugar Hill Records)
Every one of the twelve songs on this, his 9th album (including all releases), were self-written and for the first time in his career, he’s working with a major producer as Keith Stegall helped Corey craft While The Gettin’ Is Good, most of it recorded at Ardent Studios in Memphis, TN. The album may be the biggest project for Smith to date but it most certainly is among the best projects in his career with strong, vivid songs throughout with strong country songs like “Feet Wet” and “Taking The Edge Off” being joined by longtime fan classic “Dahlonega” and crossover songs like “Blow me Away.” “PRIDE” is also a standout. While The Gettin’ Is Good is definitely a standout song and if you click here, you can hear a new song (“Studio Time”) which discusses his feelings about the making of this record.
Kristen Kelly - Fire (Independent)
The former Sony Nashville artist returns to the independent realm with this well-made, self-issued EP. It showcases that her talent is as big as ever and the songs are ready for radio airplay outside of SiriusXM (which has played songs like “Kiss By Kiss” already. “Renegade” and EP’s title track “Fire” are both retro-cool sounding mid-tempo songs with strong lyrics while “Getting Over Someone” is a masterful ballad. There’s no denying Kelly’s talent, here’s hoping another label sees fit to help her break out to become the radio star she’s been destined to be through the years.
Ashley Monroe - “Bombshell” (Warner Brothers)
The latest preview track from her forthcoming album The Blade,” “Bombshell” showcases a singer/songwriter ready to be a big star, if mainstream radio would give her a chance to be. The pristine vocal from the East Tennesseean showcases why fans have grown to love her stylized country songs, songs which are always good, like “Bombshell.”
Hunter Hayes - “Young And In Love” (Warner Bros. Nashville)
What an interesting new song from Hunter Hayes. It’s atmospheric and different from the young singer and it’s definitely something he can take to the mainstream of country music with. The song is one of the better tracks he’s released and may be his best since “Wanted” and “I Want Crazy.”