From classic gentlemen like George Strait to the feisty women in Pistol Annies, country fans were presented with a wide range of new music in May. Lady Antebellum, Darius Rucker and the stars of ABC’s Nashville returned with new music, too.
Strait’s Love Is Everything debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard country albums chart this month, thanks to the radio-friendly “Give It All We Got Tonight.” Lady Antebellum’s Golden will surely live up to its name with the smash hit “Downtown” and the group’s latest single, “Goodbye Town.” Rucker is all over the radio, too, with the upbeat “Wagon Wheel.” That crowd favorite comes from True Believers, named for the album’s first single.
Patty Griffin’s American Kid and Pistol Annies’ Annie Up will satisfy devoted fans of both artists. Griffin’s yearning “That Kind of Lonely” stands up to her most poetic work, while Pistol Annies show a softer side on “I Hope You’re the End of My Story.” In addition, charming songwriter Colbie Caillat pops up on Trace Adkins’ “Watch the World End” on his album, Love Will …. Longtime listeners will want to hear Restless Heart’s “Memphis Rain,” a new track on their Playlist collection.
Falling in the realm between country and Americana, you’ll find a second volume of music from Nashville. For me, Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere) has been delivering the show’s most powerful music, and three of her songs are featured: “Hypnotizing,” “We Are Water” and the show-stopping “Nothing in This World Will Ever Break My Heart Again.” Another fine compilation is Unsung Hero: A Tribute to the Music of Ron Davies, with pleasant turns by Mandy Barnett, Shelby Lynne and Alison Krauss, among many others.
Other new and recommended Americana tracks include Sam Amidon’s “My Old Friend,” Jason Boland & The Stragglers’s “Dark and Dirty Mile,” Clairy Browne & the Bangin’ Rackettes’ “She Plays Up to You,” Cold Satellite’s “Cavalcade” and the Del-Lords’ “Everyday.” The Handsome Family’s “Frogs” and the Milk Carton Kids’ “The Ash & Clay” are also worth a listen, along with Michael & the Lonesome Playboys’ “Moondog Mad,” Mustered Courage’s “Standing by Your Side,” Tall Heights’ “Man of Stone” and Western Youth’s “Falling Down.”
In the bluegrass world, Dailey & Vincent continue to win fans with “Steel Drivin’ Man,” a nimble ode to the working class from the new album, Brothers of the Highway. Other notable and new bluegrass tunes include Della Mae’s “Empire,” Rebecca Frazier’s “Clifftop,” Claire Lynch’s “How Many Moons,” Red Tail Ring’s “The Heart’s Swift Foot,” Don Rigsby’s “Doctor’s Orders,” Mike Scott & Friends’ “Banks of the Ohio” and Trinity River Band’s “What Did I Ever Do,” a duet featuring Josh Williams.
As always, numerous singer-songwriters are sending out new music to the world. John Fogerty’s harmony-driven “Mystic Highway” is an immediate favorite. More cool tracks include Carsie Blanton’s “Backbone,” Randall Bramblett’s “Every Saint” and Bobby Cyrus’ “Homeplace,” as well as Ashleigh Flynn’s “A Million Stars” and David Francey’s “A Star Above.”
Casey Frazier’s “Rocky Mountain Rambler,” Emily Herring’s “Austin (Ain’t Got No) City Limits,” Courtney Jaye’s “New Day” and Grant Langston’s “Working Until I Die” are highlights from their new projects, as are Tom McBride’s “Morning in Glen Burnie,” Dan Miraldi’s “Out of Eden,” Ruth Moody’s “Trouble and Woe,” David Newbould’s “Always Coming Home,” Nell Robinson & Jim Nunally’s “Life in the Garden” and Chip Taylor’s “That’s How I Love You Tonight.”