2019 Mid-Year Review – What’s On Our Favourites List?

So, we’re already over halfway through 2019! There’s been some excellent new music released so far, and more to come we’re sure. We thought this would be a good time to pull out for you some of our favourite new tracks to come our way between January and June 2019. So, in no particular order, here they are!

Aaron Watson – Trying Like The Devil

Aaron Watson’s “Red Bandana” album is his best yet, and when this track was released in advance it gave us all a foretaste of what was to come. Inspired by the suicide of a boy from Aaron’s local community, it’s a call to drop the facades and be real in a society dominated by social media perfection imagery – from one of the most genuine guys in the business. Chock full of sharp, contrasting lyrical couplets wrapped in a singalong tune that bounces along on rails.

Brooks & Dunn ft Luke Combs – Brand New Man 
 
With a back catalogue bigger then most peoples boot collection, Brooks & Dunn released a selection of their songs this year on the album ‘Reboot’ but this time they had some help from various artists. ‘Brand New Man’ was originally released in 1991 and it has certainly stood the test of time. Even more so with the addition of man of the moment, Luke Combs. Hot off his induction to the Grand Ole Oprey he adds a fresh sound to this song, and we’d be keen to hear more from this trio. Do we have the start of a new supergroup here?  

Blake Shelton – God’s Country

This was a real surprise when it dropped, as it’s a clean break from what we’ve come to expect from Shelton. It’s a brooding and gothic, heavy and intense epic of a song, with a doom laden church bell that makes God’s country sound like no kind of paradise at all! Tie it into a movie night with Clint Eastwood’s “High Plains Drifter” for the full effect.

 

Joshua Ray Walker – Canyon

Walker has come out of the Texas country scene in 2019, and he’s in the tradition of the character based songwriter, though sometimes he himself is the character. “Canyon”, the arresting first track on his debut album “Wish You Were Here”, is based around his up-and-down relationship with his sick father. The voice of a plaintive cowboy angel hitched to a simple arrangement. One to watch.

 

Bruce Springsteen – Tucson Train

Any long-term Springsteen fans would have been eagerly anticipating his latest album “Western Stars”, and this country-oriented album didn’t disappoint. Choosing 1 track for this list was a challenge but “Tucson Train” took top honours just ahead of “Somewhere North of Nashville”. The simplicity of its lyrics are reminiscent of bygone days and the guy who gets his girl in the end. Bruce at his best.

 

Lukas Nelson & Promise Of The Real – Bad Case

Lukas Nelson has a very distinctive singing voice that maybe doesn’t “do it” for some, but there are certain songs where it fits just right. You could say the same for Tom Petty, so it’s perhaps ironic that this song has such a Petty influence over it. That even extends to the video, which was co-directed by Tom’s daughter Adria.

Jake Owen – Down to the Honkytonk
 
‘Greetings from Jake…’ was released on March 29th and it was the absolute perfect timing for this album to hit our speakers.  It has the sound of summer written all over it. And the opening number thrusts you right into downtown Nashville ready for a good time. ‘Down to the Honkytonk’ features plenty of toe tapping moments and lyrically it’s a catchy sing-along track, we dare you to try sitting still and not bop to this one! 
 
 

Aaron Watson – Country Radio

Another one from the “Red Bandana” album. In an album filled with stories, the image of him peeking through a crack in the door as his mama and daddy dance to the Opry on the radio conjures up a simpleer time. And the chorus line ‘silhouettes swaying across the wall’ is both a heartbreaker and a reminder to treasure our folks whenever we can.

Tom Russell – T-Bone Steak and Spanish Wine
This couldn’t be further away from today’s ‘pop country’ if it tried. T-Bone Steak and Spanish Wine is a self-penned true story of Russell returning to a North California steakhouse and bar he’d played in over 40 years’ ago and the memories his return evoked. Love to be there when the Spanish wine was flowing. His latest album, October in the Railroad Earth doesn’t disappoint, although I will admit he may be an acquired taste – but isn’t that the beauty of country?

 

Runaway June – Buy My Own Drinks 
 
These girls had crowds singing and dancing along at C2C this year and have recently released their debut album ‘Blue Roses’. ‘Buy My Own Drinks’ has deservedly had a lot of airplay and featured on many playlists prior to the album release. What we love about these girls, and particularly this song, is their on point harmonies, the sound they manage to create with all 3 of them playing guitar, and the feel good style to their music. For any women that are struggling with their identity this really is a song to sing at the top of your lungs and remind yourself just what a powerful, independent lady you can be! 

John Paul White – The Long Way Home

This was the lead-off from White’s excellent 2019 album “The Hurting Kind”. As a touring musician with a family you’re pulled between home and the road, but you gotta do what you gotta do. You can feel the miles relentlessly clocking up as White (ex- The Civil Wars) sings “I ain’t leaving, I’m just taking the long way home to you”. 

 

Randy Houser – No Stone Unturned

This has turned into an earworm among the Six Shooter team, from his excellent 2019 album ‘Magnolia’ which we reviewed in January. ‘No stone unturned, No turn un-stoned’ is such a brilliant, evocative lyric as Houser writes of trying to find himself through his travels.

 

Cody Johnson – Long Haired Country Boy 

A traditional Texas cowboy, Cody Johnson has been self releasing his albums since 2006. What this means is that you get a true sound of what he wants to produce and release to the masses. His seventh album ‘Ain’t Nothin to it’ features this cover of the Charlie Daniels classic  ‘Long Haired Country Boy’. It may be a play on words as Cody certainly doesn’t have long hair, but a country boy he is! This track has rocking guitar licks, and a bass line that will have your boots moving throughout. The energy this song exudes is enough to lift anyone up in their darkest day. 

 

Austin Jenckes – American Nights

We reviewed Austin’s great new album “If You Grew Up Like I Did” earlier this year and it’s been on our playlists ever since. “American Nights” is a standout track, love the long musical intro and tales of growing up in small-town America. Catch him when you can at The Long Road and on his UK tour in September.

 

Aaron Watson – Burn Em Down 

Without a shadow of a doubt ‘Red Bandana’ was one of the most highly anticipated album releases of this half year. Aaron had been teasing us with a few pre releases but nothing could have prepared us for what this album eventually delivered. Written entirely by Aaron himself, to pick just one song from the 20 collection was a tough one. So we picked 2! ‘Burn Em Down’ is a stand out track. The only problem I have is that you have to wait ‘til almost the end of the album to hear it but hey, what do they say –  save the best till last! 

 

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