An Independent Playlist for Independence Day

Jason Isbell, Aoife O'Donovan Among Favorites

Celebrating our country’s independence is what the Fourth of July is all about. Here’s a playlist of new songs from the last month or so, all from artists who know what it means to be independent.

Jason Isbell‘s latest album, Southeastern, is already winning raves as one of the most satisfying Americana albums of the year. Although he has a lot to say after getting married and choosing sobriety, he does it in a way that’s concise, poetic and easy to listen to. Although the whole album is worth a listen, my favorite track is “Different Days,” about continuing to learn as you age.

Meanwhile, Aoife O’Donovan ‘s “Red & White & Blue & Gold” is a sweet song about celebrating the Fourth of July with your friends — and just a few too many drinks. If you’re a fan of Americana music, here are some other tracks I’d recommend: Delbert McClinton & Glen Clark’s “Been Around a Long Time,” Donna the Buffalo’s “I Love My Tribe,” the Warren Hood Band’s “Last One to Know” and Joy Kills Sorrow ‘s “Gold in the Deep.”

As always, the huddled masses of singer-songwriters continue to submit notable new material. Check out Sarah Alden’s “Fists of Violets,” Ryan Culwell’s “Walking Away,” Rian Greene’s “Drown the Miller” and Josh Halverson’s “Take Me to Forever,” as well as Stephen Kellogg’s “Crosses,” Bill Kirchen’s “Swing Fever,” Svavar Knútur’s “Soundtracks” and Willie Nile’s “American Ride.”

Other favorites include Mando Saenz’s “Breakaway Speed” (with Kim Richey on harmony vocals), Sturgill Simpson’s “Hero,” Tex Smith’s “A Wayfarer’s Lament,” Eddie Spaghetti’s “The Value of Nothing,” Susan Werner’s “Iowa,” Zane Williams’ “Overnight Success” and Jack Wilson’s “Masterplan.”

In addition, bluegrass listeners will enjoy the Barefoot Movement’s “Sheepherder,” Big Country Bluegrass’ “I’m Putting On My Leaving Shoes,” Fletcher Bright and Bill Evans’ “Yellow Barber,” Betse Ellis’ “Long Time to Get There” and the Mallett Brothers Band’s “Blue Ridge Parkway,” as well as Ivan Rosenberg’s “Maryville Waltz,” the Roys’ “Gypsy Runaway Train” and Adam Steffey’s “Chinquapin Hunting.”