Here are some of the top new releases during the month of February 2021.
All of the tracks featured here are also on our New Release Roundup 2021 playlist on Spotify, along with every other song we’ll include in this feature during the year. If you’re a Spotify user, give it a follow so you can keep up to date!
Mark Collie – Born Ready
Fans of TV’s Nashville series will recognise Mark Collie, but may not have realised his long career as a real-life writer and recording artist, alongside his appearances on screen. Born Ready is the first song to appear from Mark’s new album (his eighth overall) titled Book Of My Blues, inspired in part by the graphic novel Rockabilly Hitman. The album is due for release in June 2021, but meanwhile take a dive into Mark’s back catalog if you’re not familiar with it.
Tracy Lawrence – Struggle Struggle
It’s thirty years this year since Tracy Lawrence debuted with his Sticks and Stones album, and to mark the occasion he’s producing a three-part anniversary project called Hindsight 2020 – a three volume album he’ll release in stages throughout this year. The first album, Volume 1: Stairway To Heaven Highway To Hell, will land on 23rd April and will feature all-new material, most of which Lawrence has written or co-written, including this – an encouragement to fight through the hard times in life.
Curtis Grimes – Friends
Texas favorite Curtis Grimes delivers a pitch-perfect made-for-radio track, highlighting the importance of, well, friends throughout life. It’s exactly the kind of track that should see Grimes receive wider attention outside of the Lone Star State.
Ross Cooper – Cowboy Picture Show
Texas born, Nashville based, Ross Cooper released his third album Chasing Old Highs on Feb 26th. You can find out more about Ross in our interview with him, and listen along to the variety of styles across the album’s 11 tracks at the same time.
Charley Crockett – Lesson In Depression
February saw the release of Charley Crockett’s ninth album. 10 For Slim – Charley Crockett Sings James Hand is Crockett’s tribute to the late James “Slim” Hand, the much loved Texan singer-songwriter who died in 2020. Hand had been an inspiration and a friend to Crockett, and it’s clear that this album is very much an expression of that relationship. Crockett’s contemporary take on the Countrypolitan sound suits the material so well. If the album introduces Hand’s work to a larger audience, as I’m sure Crockett hopes it does, then that’s all to the good.
Slade Coulter – Hey Mary
Slade Coulter is an upcoming artist on the Texas country scene. Not content to rest on the laurels of his debut EP last year, Here We Go Again, Slade begins 2021 with the release of Hey Mary, a driving track where Slade tells his indecisive lover he knows she won’t leave her partner for him, no matter what she says.
Mason Lively – Happy Home
Texan Mason Lively has his second album cue’d for release on 19th March. The 11 track self titled album, the follow-up to 2018’s Stronger Ties, sees Lively working with Wade Bowen as producer and occasional co-writer. Happy Home has established itself as a fan favourite in Lively’s live set list, and the break in touring has finally given him the opportunity to cut the track in the studio.
Carly Pearce – Should’ve Known Better
Carly’s 7 track “mini-album” 29 is almost aural therapy. It’s hard to escape or ignore the sense of catharsis Carly must have acheived through writing and recording this set of songs, which serve to express the whole range of emotions resulting from her now-ended marriage and its aftermath. Heart rending stuff.
Lainey Wilson – Sunday Best
It was a long time coming, but Lainey’s debut major label album finally arrived in February. It’s a great showcase for Lainey’s talents as both writer and performer, and the creative partnership with producer Jay Joyce works a charm – see our review for more info. Sunday Best begins with a little of that Southern Gothic, from the Bayou feel before lifting to become a slightly boozy toe-tapping heartbreak song.
Kaitlin Butts – How Lucky Am I
Kaitlin Butts wrote this song in answer to a challenge from a friend – to produce a song containing the word “Honeywine” in the lyrics. Kaitlin lost the bet, because her friend was Cleto Cordero, of the band Flatland Cavalry, and he quickly came up with the track Honeywine, as found on the band’s Homeland Insecurity album. So, How Lucky Am I is Kaitlin’s “answer song” in a sense, and it’s given extra meaning since the friends became lovers and are now husband and wife. Kaitlin and Cleto recently relocated from Texas to Nashville, so we eagerly wait to see how that will impact their careers.
Ashley McBryde – First Thing I Reach For (Never Will: Live From A Distance)
Deprived (as we all are) of her regular touring regime, Ashley McBryde announced the impending release of Never Will: Live From A Distance – a 6 track EP coming on May 28th, featuring songs from last year’s Never Will album recorded live on stage, but without an audience. First Thing… is the first thing (ahem) to be revealed from the EP, it’s the most obviously “country” sounding track on Never Will and it’s effectively rendered here, such that we look forward to hearing the rest of the EP in due course. Maybe one day, we’ll look back at such “live without an audience” releases and consider them a curio of a difficult time we had to get through – but we got through it.
Hannah Dasher – Left Right
As well as roping in a whole new set of fans with a series of cookery-based appearances on TikTok, Hannah Dasher was recently awarded a contract with Sony Nashville. It’s well deserved for the lady from Savannah, Georgia , and Left Right is a great example of her way of bringing classic country style into the contemporary scene.
Jo Smith – Wyoming (feat. Vince Gill)
When Vince Gill heard the finished mix of Wyoming for the first time, he was moved to tears. It is a beautiful song, given a panoramic production treatment that is so sympathetic to the lyric. Jo Smith released an EP in 2016 containing a number of throwback style, soul-tinged tracks so Wyoming would appear to be a change of direction for her. It’ll be interesting to see what she comes up with next.
Luke Combs & Billy Strings – The Great Divide
When The Great Divide appeared at the beginning of February, Luke Combs hinted that it was part of a bluegrass album project he’d been working on. It was also implied that the project had been shelved, at least for the time being. Which is a shame, because if this track is anything to go by it’s an album that would definitely be worth hearing. Compared to other recent high profile ‘grass albums, The Great Divide sounds modern while keeping firmly rooted in the traditions of the style, and Luke delivers his lines in a more subtle voice than we often hear from him.