5 Must-Hear New Country Songs: Chris Housman, Maddie & Tae & More

This week’s crop of new country music includes Chris Housman’s debut album and Georgia Webster’s latest, while Bronwyn Keith-Hynes teams with Dierks Bentley for a bluegrass spin on a Jimmy Buffett hit.

Chris Housman, Blueneck

Blueneck, the debut album from Kansas native and openly gay country musician Housman, melds a ’90s country sound with songs that reflect Housman’s own truths and journey. The project collects songs he’s released over the past few years, as well as new tracks, including songs of romance (“Tomorrow, Tonight”), heartbreak (the beautifully crafted “I Can’t Go Down that Road”) and nights of hazy escapes from life’s pressures (the dance-fueled “High Hopes”).

But Housman also turns his affinity for tightly turned lyrical phrases to songs such as “Drag Queen,” about a drag queen who is “never a drag,” and the title track, where he sings, “I think y’all means all and I know we all just want to know that we belong.” “Bible Belt” centers around reflections of (and healing from) religious trauma and rejection; the song’s uptempo feel and ultimate hope for acceptance and respect turn the song into a rallying cry. Centering the entire project is Housman’s twangy, versatile vocal and a range of songs that truly offer a country music album that is inclusive and universal.

Georgia Webster, “Town Talks”

On her third EP, Signs, Webster dissects the emotional nuances of coping with–then exiting–a noncommittal relationship. On “Town Talks,” she fights the urge to spill her ex’s misdeeds up and down the streets of Nashville, because, as she sings, “Nashville will hurt you more than I will … this town talks so I don’t have to.” The Massachusetts native brings a masterful storytelling arc to the overall project, but on this track, her conversational vocal style brings just the right touches of drama and intimacy.

Kameron Marlowe, “I Can Run”

Off his new album Keepin’ The Lights On, this track showcases Marlowe’s ability to wring every ounce of emotion from a song. Written by Oscar Charles, Ben Roberts and Tucker Beathard, the song marks a powerful self-reflection of denial, disappointment and angst. This is another solid vocal showcase from Marlowe.

Maddie & Tae, “Sad Girl Summer”

Don’t be fooled by the song title — this is no slow weeper. Instead, this post-breakup track is a girl’s best friend’s attempt to get her out of sad-girl mode and back into the dating scene. “Girl, you’re a catch/ He’s more catch and release,” they sing. Breezy, boppy, empowering and fueled by the duo’s harmonies, this is set to be a sure-fire fan favorite.

Bronwyn Keith-Hynes, “Trip Around the Sun”

Keith-Hynes, a two-time IBMA fiddle player of year winner known for her work in Molly Tuttle’s band Golden Highway, teams up with country performer Dierks Bentley on this track from Keith-Hynes’ second album I Built a World, out now on Sugar Petunia Records.

Originally recorded by the late Jimmy Buffett and Martina McBride, here stately mandolin and Keith-Hynes’ top-shelf fiddle work bring the country hit squarely into bluegrass territory, while the sonic atmosphere here allows this meditation on acceptance and relinquishing control the room to breathe and expand, progressing from a ballad into a fiddle-driven bluegrass jam. Throughout, Bentley’s harmonies offer an earthy counterpoint to Keith-Hynes’ airy vocal. Bentley, of course, has long shown his affinity for bluegrass, including his 2010 bluegrass-infused project Up on the Ridge and stretching back to his first album, which featured a collaboration with The Del McCoury Band. The two are aided by musical luminaries including Bryan Sutton (guitar), Wes Corbett (banjo), Jerry Douglas (reso-guitar), Jeff Picker (bass) and Sam Bush (mandolin).

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