This week’s roundup of new music features plenty of twangy country fare from Zach Top and Catie Offerman, soulful wistfulness from Chris Young and Peytan Porter, and a sterling new work from Lizzie No and Conner Smith.
Zach Top, “Sounds Like the Radio”
The fiddles sizzle, the guitars twang as much as Top’s voice, and this barroom shuffle feels ripped from ’90s country radio in the best way. A highly promising track that sounds like a harbinger of more “country gold” to come from this newcomer.
Peytan Porter, “Lemonade”
Porter teams up with co-writers Ian Christian and Matt Willis on this darkly stomping country track, driven by thriving percussion and sinewy guitar. Porter possesses a nimble voice that adeptly shifts between bluesy tones and an ethereal airy upper register and pairs it with an eye for lyrical detail, on this song that non-judgmentally showcases a range of vices (“cheatin’, drinkin’, cheatin’, prayin’”) used as escape mechanisms to help numb the pain of soul-killing situations.
Chris Young, “Right Now”
Eleven-time Country Airplay chart-topper Young turns in another distinguished vocal delivery on this sultry, soulful track, which finds him torn between pride and pining, embellished by moody guitar and driving rhythm. Ultimately, he dares to be the the first to put his ego and hurt aside for the chance to rekindle a romance whose embers are still glowing. Young wrote this standout with Chris DeStefano and Josh Hoge, with production by Young and DeStefano.
Lizzie No, “The Heartbreak Store”
This singer, songwriter and podcaster released the 2017 debut project Hard Won, and returns Jan. 19 with their latest album Halfsies, out on Thirty Tigers/Miss Freedomland. The 11-song project, in solid singer-songwriter tradition, proliferates with keen observations, excavating both internal and external struggles. The project includes this lilting story of a post-heartbreak shift aimed at putting the past behind and moving toward liberation. No’s warm, welcoming voice, emotional clarity and eloquent songwriting skills gleam.
Catie Offerman, “Sound of Missing You”
Offerman is steadily building her calling card as a promising country neo-traditionalist, with her latest –an uptempo track about barrooms that serve as bandaids for broken hearts — being one more ace. Her voice is a potent simmer of twangy and silky, bolstered by fiddles that would sound right at home on a George Strait song (fitting, as Offerman also namechecks King George here).
Conner Smith, “Meanwhile in Carolina”
Smith previously hit the top 15 on the Country Airplay chart with his swampy, country come-on “Creek Will Rise,” and is part of Country Radio Seminar’s New Faces of Country Music Class of 2024. His latest, which Smith wrote with Blake Pendergrass, is a tender ballad that traces the lives two lovers lead long before meeting each other, laying the groundwork to love. This charmer of a song marks some of Smith’s best work to date, feeling reminiscent of some of Brad Paisley’s tender earlier works, and nicely showcasing the unhurried warmth and earnestness in his voice.
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