Music

6 Must-Hear New Country Releases: Oliver Anthony, Tucker Wetmore, Joe Diffie

This week’s batch of new music features Oliver Anthony’s full-length project, a tribute to the late Joe Diffie which features vocals from Diffie, Luke Combs and the late Toby Keith, as well as another viral hit from Tucker Wetmore and the sterling soul-country of Angel White.

Oliver Anthony, Hymnal of a Troubled Man’s Mind

Oliver Anthony follows last year’s “Rich Men North of Richmond” breakthrough success with this full-length, 10-song project, Hymnal of a Troubled Man’s Mind, which released on Easter Sunday (March 31). The Dave Cobb-produced project incorporates new recordings of previously-released tracks such as “I’ve Got to Get Sober” and “VCR Kid,” as well as a new song, “Mama’s Been Hurting.” Oliver Anthony caught people’s attention thanks to his homespun sound, and his new project hews close that, bolstering his grainy, soulful vocal with acoustic guitars, bass and fiddle.

Noticeably absent from the set is “Rich Men,” though he adds in several spoken-word moments of himself reading Bible verses, similar to what he does in concert. Keeping with the biblical-tinged moments on the album, the project was recorded in a church in Savannah, Georgia. “Mama’s Been Hurting” continues with Anthony’s penchant for singing about the hard-scrabble lives of rural people, offering up a musical plea heavenward to not “let the land I love die so young.” Oliver seems to know his audience, and continues offering up the kind of rustic laments here they’ve come to know him for.

Joe Diffie, Toby Keith and Luke Combs, “Ships That Don’t Come In”

HARDY’s latest Hixtape project offers a tribute to the late country singer Joe Diffie, but fashions a unique take on a tribute project, drawing in a plethora of artists to sing on many of Diffie’s biggest hits, alongside Diffie vocal tracks taken from a 2006 re-recordings session. “Ships That Don’t Come In,” a tip of the hat to the struggles military members face after making it home — if they do make it home — was a top five hit on Billboard‘s Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart (now Hot Country Songs) for Diffie in 1992.

This track is particularly poignant, as it also features the final recorded vocal from another late country star, Toby Keith, who passed away earlier this year. Keith’s voice is the first you hear on this track, and his voice still rings with strength and weathered warmth, like a fine, time-tested leather. Diffie’s sturdy twang and Combs’s muscular, gruff vocal further extend the storyline, heightening this timeless ’90s country classic.

Tucker Wetmore, “Wind Up Missin’ You”

Wetmore has earned a viral hit with the heartbreak-fueled “Wine Into Whiskey,” (which earned Wetmore his first Billboard Hot 100 chart entry) and follows with what is fast becoming another early signature hit, “Wind Up Missin’ You.” Sonically, Wetmore’s hip-hop-laced grooves have drawn comparisons to Morgan Wallen, while his twangy vocal phrasing at times sounds like a carbon copy of Wallen. Still, he weaves his own distinct personality through the song’s poetic moments — particularly on this song, where his vocals are underpinned by subtle, guitar-driven percussion.

Wetmore wrote “Wind Up Missin’ You” with Thomas Archer and Chris La Corte. Though the song’s title here points to forlorn heartbreak, the story arc finds him on the cusp of a potential long-term romance, as he tries to convince a woman at the bar that despite his ballcap-wearing, barfly exterior, his sights are set on committed love, rather than a quick-fix heartbreak salvo. “I’ve turned the page on the old me,” he sings. Wetmore seems to have another surefire hit on his hands.

Angel White, “Outlaw”

“I’m an outlaw and you can’t catch me now,” this fifth-generation Texan boasts over stacked harmonies, as he sings of packing up his things and moving on after a breakup. Bluesy guitar work seems to answer his calls, while largely pared back instrumentation and a slow-paced groove puts his smooth, soulful vocal at the fore. He’s released a handful of tracks, including the sentimental “Red Blanket,” and here delves deeper into his unique fusion of musical styles and sentiments. “Outlaw” was written by Dwight A. Baker and Khalil Hall, and is from White’s upcoming album Ghost of the West.

The Lone Bellow, “Victory Garden”

In recognizing the one-year anniversary of the school shooting that took place at Nashville’s Covenant School, resulting in the loss of six lives, The Lone Bellow released this gorgeous, folky, and pristine harmony-filled ballad that champions doing the work of healing and putting good into the world as a means of shifting communities toward a brighter place and preserving oneself. Elsewhere, they sing, “So we sow the seeds in our victory garden/ Hands in the earth/ So the heart doesn’t harden.”

The Lone Bellow has partnered with the nonprofit Voices for a Safer Tennessee, with all money generated from the song going to charity. The song was written by the band’s Zach Williams, Kanene Donehey Pipkin, and Brian Elmquist along with Mikky Ekko.

Lola Kirke and Kaitlin Butts, “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?”

Americana stalwarts Kirke and Butts put their own defiant spin on Paula Cole’s 1997 hit “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?” here. Kirke takes the lead, while the duo’s voices mesh superbly, infusing the lyrics with both extra layers of sweetness and bite. The song will be available on 12” vinyl at select stores during Record Store Day on April 20.

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