Are you, like me, burned out on current country radio and its vapid soullessness? Are you tired of the douchey, talentless Florida Georgia Lines and Luke Bryans? Are you bored with songs about tailgates and moonshine and girls in cutoff shorts? Good. I am too. Is it such a big deal for me to want my country music to actually sound country? I have no need for dubstep or rap references in my country music. I dug around for current country artists who actually sound like the classic country I so cherish.
I’ve been playing the shit out of Brandy Clark’s “12 Stories” album. It hits on all the classic country themes: hard times, infidelity, bored housewives, jail time, addiction. But it never sounds fake or mawkish, only honest and raw. Her songs are stories almost anyone can identify with.
I don’t know how I lived before Sturgill Simpson came into my life. He sounds just like the ’70s-era Outlaw Country Waylon that I hold so near and dear. If you close your eyes, Sturgill might as well BE Waylon.
Sunny Sweeney had moderate radio play with “From a Table Away” a few years ago, but she deserves way more than that. She’s a little rough around the edges but sweet and tender at heart; if you like Miranda Lambert, you’ll love Sunny. “Concrete” is the perfect female-driven country record, equal parts heartbroken and kickass. Plus she has a “Mama Tried” tattoo, making her incredibly cool in my book.
Easton Corbin sounded JUST LIKE my personal Jesus, George Strait. His first two albums were perfect, radio-friendly yet traditional country. It seems he has recently sold out to modern Nashville and become a cog in the pop machine, which makes me really sad. Please don’t turn to the dark side, Easton!
Hank Williams III
Grandpa Hank was the godfather of country music. Daddy Hank was the loudmouth bad boy with questionable politics. Hank III is loud, with a punk attitude that fuses his grandpa’s classic country sound with something more rock’n’roll. I think Hank rolls over in his grave most daily listening to Top 40 country radio, but his grandson probably keeps him at peace once in awhile.
Hank III’s sister Holly is a great country musician too! It must run in the family! It must be a “Family Tradition.” LOL. Her brand of country is a bit more mournful and lush than her brother’s, with “Drinkin'” being my most-played song of 2013.
Lindi Ortega has clearly taken cues from the rockabilly-influenced side of country music, but her voice is as clear and sweet as Dolly Parton’s. Her songs are as dreamily romantic yet hard-edged as Lana del Rey’s.
You may know Ashley as part of Miranda Lambert’s three-piece side gig Pistol Annies. She is clearly the star, with a crystal-clear voice and unmistakable twang. Her solo album, “Like a Rose,” was probably my favorite album of last year. She does a great duet with Mr. Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton, called “You Ain’t Dolly (You Ain’t Porter.)” If you like Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette, you will definitely dig Ashley Munroe.