In conjunction with our new country music issue, American Songwriter proudly presents The Country Way Digital Volume 3, featuring 12 must-hear tracks from some of our favorite artists. And the best thing about it? It’s free!
You can download the sampler by going to this URL: http://thecountrywaydigitalsamplervol3.bandcamp.com/
Rodney Crowell, “I’m A Mess”
Later this summer, country veteran Rodney Crowell will release Kin, a collaborative album written alongside poet Mary Karr. “I’m a Mess” is the album’s leadoff single, a mix of tongue-twisting lyrics and breezy acoustics that recall the Traveling Wilburys’ debut.
Todd Snider, “Brenda”
A grungy ode to the sort of rocky, R-rated love that never gets written about in the storybooks.
Joe Pug, “Hymn #76”
A companion piece to “Hymn #101” and “Hymn #35,” the first single from The Great Despiser finds Joe Pug singing about love like a coffeehouse poet. “To meet me is to dare into the darkness,” he begins, his voice floating above fingerplucked guitar arpeggios. “If you are devoted to a dream, go and light the lantern, leave your family abandoned, meet me by the shallow of the stream.”
Andrew Combs, “Take It From Me”
“Take it from me, you don’t wanna be mine,” Andrew Combs cautions on this mid-tempo country ballad. The way he sings each note with a woozy, gauzy croon, though, may have girls begging to differ.
Ben Nichols sings about his family on “Sometimes,” one of the final songs recorded during the Women And Work sessions. The band’s gravely roots-rock sound remains intact, but horn players Jim Spake and Scott Thompson help add a healthy dose of Memphis soul, too.
Amanda Shires, “Swimmer … Dreams Don’t Keep”
After spending much of 2011 on the road as Justin Townes Earle’s violinst, Amanda Shires reminds us she’s more than a hired gun with “Swimmer … ” which mixes earthbound folk with atmospheric Americana. Come for the whistling; stay for Shires’ unassuming vocals, which flutter at the end of every phrase like a young Dolly Parton.
Sons Of Bill, “Santa Ana Winds”
Virginia’s newest exports do a little California dreaming on this country-rock road anthem, which barrels forward like mid-day traffic on the 101.
The Lumineers, “Dead Sea”
“You told me I was like the Dead Sea; you’ll never sink when you are with me,” goes the chorus to this pulsing indie folk song from the Lumineers’ self-titled debut.
Tim Easton, “California Bars”
California bars are lonely places on this bluesy acoustic ballad, delivered by Tim Easton in a rough, sandpaper-scrubbed voice that sounds as though it could really use a good shot of whiskey.
Angel Snow, “Civil Things”
Alison Krauss covered Angel Snow’s “Lie Awake” on last year’s Paper Airplane, a move that brought the Georgia native’s stark, acoustic folk songs to a wider audience. Here, Snow takes the reins herself, proving that her music doesn’t need an A-lister’s help to make an impact.
Madison Violet, “She’s Got Something To Live For”
Canadian folksters Brenley MacEachern and Lisa MacIsaac spin the story of Joni, a coffee shop waitress who struggles to make ends meet. As four-on-the-floor drumbeats and sparkling guitars chime in the background, Joni eventually ditches the coffeehouse gig and starts singing at bars around town. The money isn’t much better, but that’s not really the point, is it?
Jess Klein, “Tell Me This Is Love”
Trading her acoustic guitar for a full-sized pop/rock band, Jess Klein swaggers her way through sunny chord progressions and clever choruses on this choice cut from Behind A Veil.
— track reviews by Andrew Leahey