RS Country Music Picks: Week of August 17th

Whether it’s coming out of Nashville, New York, L.A., or points in between, there’s no shortage of fresh tunes, especially from artists who have yet to become household names. Rolling Stone Country selects some of the best new music releases from country and Americana artists.

Drew Parker, “While You’re Gone”

Modern-day cowboy Drew Parker is heartbroken — and delusional — in this smoldering ballad about all the things he’ll do while his lover is away. Spoiler alert: she’s not coming back. But that doesn’t stop Parker, a Georgia native who’s written and toured with Luke Combs, from hoping otherwise as he pops the top on another PBR.

Kolby Cooper, “One Night Stand”

In “One Night Stand,” Texas singer-songwriter Kolby Cooper comes home to find out that his girlfriend has left and taken half of their belongings. Rather than drowning his sorrows, he heads to Craigslist to replace his missing furniture. But his request for “one nightstand” to put beside his bed gets hilariously misinterpreted. Cooper grins his way through the tune, an amped-up summertime rocker that appears on the newly released Vol. 2 EP.

Jerry Joseph, “Dead Confederate”

A Confederate statue on the cusp of being toppled tells its story in songwriter Jerry Joseph’s damning and disturbing ballad. It’s a challenging listen: about the South, America’s racist history, and what’s to come. The song appears on Joseph’s new album The Beautiful Madness, produced by Patterson Hood and featuring Drive-By Truckers as the backing band. Those haunting slide-guitar notes on “Dead Confederate”? That’s Jason Isbell.

Brennen Leigh, “Don’t You Know I’m From Here”

Singer-songwriter Brennen Leigh goes back to the border of Minnesota and North Dakota where she was raised in “Don’t You Know I’m From Here,” which appears on her sixth album, Prairie Love Letter (produced by Robbie Fulks). Featuring a simple country-bluegrass arrangement with twinkling mandolin accents, the song explores the idea of returning to a place you never thought you’d want to see again, and feeling like a total stranger. “Maybe this little town looked better in the rearview mirror/Don’t you know I’m from here?” Leigh sings, with a tinge of sadness.

Devin Dawson, “I Got a Truck”

Devin Dawson throws a change-up after the subtle wonders of his debut album Dark Horse, dropping a propulsive truck song as the lead single from an upcoming project. But of course it’s not really a “Truck Yeah”-type song so much as it’s about having a big dream and the determination to get there. “I’ve got a song/I’ve got something to say/I’ve got a will to survive/Got a dollar to my name,” sings Dawson over drums that sound like wheels in motion, nodding to the restless anthems of U2 as he makes his case. Coupled with its extended instrumental coda, “I Got a Truck” evokes the sensation of hitting the road and knowing no one can stop you.

The Sea The Sea, “Stumbling Home”

Folk duo The Sea The Sea, made up of spouses Chuck and Mira Costa, create something otherworldly with “Stumbling Home,” the title track from their upcoming album. Combining their gorgeous harmonies with acoustic guitar and quiet washes of synth, the chords and melodies in “Stumbling Home” slip and slide into one another, like the two lives it depicts.

Szlachetka, “Earthquake”

Nashville singer-songwriter Matthew Szlachetka (who performs under his surname) looks for solid ground in a topsy-turvy world in the supercharged single “Earthquake.” “Take what’s left, build a whole new thing,” he sings, preaching change and compassion. “Better love your neighbors/it’s all that you got left.” Szlachetka and co-writer Paul Stephens’ lyrics are right for the times, but it’s the guitarist’s fleet-fingered leads that put this one over the top.

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