Here are some of the top new releases during the month of April 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!
Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real – Perennial Bloom (Back To You)
A new album on the way from Lukas Nelson & POTR. A Few Stars Apart arrives on 11th June, with Dave Cobb in the producer’s chair. Perennial Bloom is an uplifting reflection from a bunch of hardened “road warriors” on being effectively forced to stay home, and the hope of seeds sown bearing perennial fruit in the future.
Stoney LaRue – Steel Heart (Live)
Someone else who is well used to spending the bulk of his time on the road, Stoney LaRue used his down time to go through his personal archive of recorded and unreleased live shows. The result is new album Double Live 25, and it is a rare beast – a live album with no overdubs. What you hear is what Stoney and band laid down live on the stage. There’s a broad mix of material taken from Stoney’s various albums, as well as one of two rarities like Steel Heart that you won’t find in his discography.
Sturgill Simpson – Paradise
Sturgill Simpson is a well known admirer and friend of the late John Prine. This affectionate cover of Paradise, originally featured on Prine’s 1971 debut album, is Simpson’s contribution to tribute album Broken Hearts & Dirty Windows Vol 2 due for release in October. The song was recorded by Simpson at the end of the sessions for his Cuttin’ Grass Vol 1 album, and was actually the last song to be recorded at the renowned Butcher Shoppe studio in Nashville before its demolition.
Rich O’Toole – 17 Wild Horses
Texas-based Rich O’Toole teases a new album with 17 Wild Horses, a track he says was inspired by the character of Beth Dutton from the hit TV show Yellowstone. No date or title for the new album so far, but it’s already off to a good start with this opener.
Thomas Rhett – Country Again
Thomas Rhett has said that his new album Country Again (Side A) is a return to his country roots. It’s certainly shorn of many of the kind of studio embelishments typical of his “closer-to-pop” releases, but listeners shouldn’t expect a full-blown trad-country turn-around. It is much closer to his debut album “It Goes Like This” while also keeping a broadly radio friendly style; a tightrope act that should keep fans old and new happy.
Kylie Frey – Horses In Heaven (w/ Randy Houser)
Originally the closing track on last year’s Rodeo Queen EP, this new recording of Horses In Heaven is given an extra layer with the addition of guest harmony vocals from Randy Houser. The song is a tribute to Kylie’s late grandfather, who taught the former rodeo champ to ride, and its lyrics are a personal overflow of the heart written while the loss of such a major figure in her life was still raw.
Kip Moore – Good Life
Good Life is a first product to arrive from a new creative collaboration between Moore and acclaimed producer and writer Jay Joyce. The result is a sonic step away from Kip’s most recent album Wild World – an amped-up country rocker with Kip’s double-tracked vocals over a funky, shuffling rhythm. Think Eric Church crossed with latter-day The Cadillac Three and you’re not too far away. If there’s an album on the way (and we suspect there is), this is an intriguing insight.
Zack Schmidt – I Can’t Dance
When an album arrives that features The 400 Unit as “house band”, then you know it’s going to be worth a listen. Raise A Banner is Zach Schmidt’s follow-up to his debut album The Day We Lost The War. It should have been released in 2020 but, not uncommonly, it was held back and instead the album arrived on 16th April 2021. The band of course deliver in customary fashion, but you’ll need to remind yourself when listening to tracks like I Can’t Dance that you’re not going to hear Isbell’s vocal chiming in. If you can do that, it’s an album with much to enjoy.
The Brother Brothers – The Calla Lily Song
Illinois-born identical twins David and Adam Moss are The Brother Brothers, and they released their second album Calla Lily during April. The de facto title track, The Calla Lily Song, is a gentle, reflective Sunday morning kind of a song with a simple arrangement giving room for just occasional flow of blood harmony vocal.
The Vegabonds – Juke and Jive
Fans of Whiskey Myers and The Cadillac 3 will surely appreciate the grooves and rhythms of 5-piece Southern Rockers The Vegabonds. Front man Daniel Allen’s vocal sits loud and clear over Richard Fairhand’s lead guitar riffage, and it’s all underpinned by the kind of straight up, pile driver bass and drum combo that’s an essential requirement in this sonic space. Juke and Jive is the first track to be revealed from the band’s forthcoming sixth album, Sinners and Saints.
Grace Pettis – Oklahoma
Hailing from Austin, Texas, Grace Pettis is a young singer-songwriter with the kind of powerful, soaring voice that grabs the attention. Oklahoma, inspired by the idea of struggle and overcoming without fanfare, is a great setting for that voice. Her debut album Working Woman is available from 7th May.
Alan Jackson – Way Down In My Whiskey
When Alan Jackson dropped 3 tracks to announce his first all-new album since 2015’s Angels and Alcohol all the focus was drawn to the title track Where Have You Gone, a sorrowful ballad that pleaded “Sweet country music where have you gone? The airwaves are waiting, please come back home.” A legacy artist expressing his dislike for current music trends? Well, stop the presses!!! To be fair to Jackson, all of the four other tracks that’ve now been released are exactly the kind of music he says is missing and if any name can get it “back” onto country radio, it’s probably Alan Jackson. Rather than get caught up in all the politics of the music industry, it’s best to just sit back and enjoy a track like Way Down In My Whiskey. The new album drops on 14th May.
Lauren Jenkins – Like You Found Me
Texan Lauren Jenkins is looking for a strong year after the trials of 2020. Following her departure from Big Machine Records last year, Jenkins has announced a series of self-produced EP’s arriving during the rest of 2021. Like You Found Me is our first glimpse of these recordings, and it’s a strong, confident, rootsy number with echoes of Sheryl Crowe. Be sure to look out for more music from Lauren Jenkins throughout 2021.
Seth Ennis – I Still Do
If previous hits like Woke Up In Nashville and Think and Drive drew comparisons with Hunter Hayes’ balladeer style output, then fans of both Hayes and Ennis will be very happy with this. A bouncy rhythmic track with verses punctuated by three chord guitar stabs, and Ennis’ hopeful and optimistic vocal is perfect for the lyric.