Exclusive Premiere: Emily Nenni’s Good-Time Honky Tonk Rendition of “Amarillo Highway”

The release date for Emily Nenni’s Drive & Cry is less than a month away. Today, American Songwriter is proud to present the third sample of the upcoming collection. Listen to her superb rendition of “Amarillo Highway” below.

Videos by American Songwriter

“Amarillo Highway” stands out from the other tracks on Drive & Cry for several reasons. First and foremost, it is the only song she didn’t write herself. Then, there’s the fact that this cover has some serious country music history behind it. For starters, legendary Texas songwriter Terry Allen penned it. Bobby Bare cut the first rendition of it in 1975. Several other artists including Robert Earl Keen have made the song their own. Now, Nenni is stepping forward to put her stamp on it. She stands shoulder to shoulder with Bare and Keen on this one and holds her own.

[RELATED: Emily Nenni Introduces Her Next Album ‘Drive & Cry’ with Honky Tonkin’ Toe-Tapper “Get to Know Ya”]

“This is a favorite of mine to play on Sunday nights with the Ice Cold Pickers at Santa’s Pub,” Nenni said of the song. “It’s extra special because we have two members of the Santa’s band on this — Steve Daly on guitar and Mike Daly on steel. In my opinion, this recording is as close as you’ll get to the feeling of being in that once smoke-filled, beer and cash-only bar without actually being there. I take a lot of pride in that.”

[RELATED: Emily Nenni Embraces Hard-Learned Lessons on New Track “Changes” from Her Upcoming Album ‘Drive & Cry’]

Nearly all of Nenni’s output feels like it could have been cut in the mid-70s and aimed directly at a dancehall crowd. In that way, “Amarillo Highway” is the perfect addition to her upcoming collection. Her instantly recognizable vocal delivery, the barroom piano, soaring pedal steel, and twangy guitar work come together with a rhythm section that all but orders the listener to dance making this a standout track for an artist who has never cut a bad song.

Emily Nenni Shows Her Soul on Drive & Cry

“Aside from ‘Amarillo Highway,’ this is the first record I have completely written on my own,” she said of the new album. “I spent a good bit of solitary time ruminating on things that had happened over the last year or two. Rethinking what I’m doing, how I’m doing it, who with, even in just the everyday. Change is hard but also such a gift.”

Previous releases from the album, “Changes” and “Get to Know Ya” show Nenni’s songwriting prowess. The rest of the album expands on that. By the end of the 12-track collection, you’ll know that she is, without a doubt, a force to be reckoned with both sonically and lyrically.

Pre-order your copy of Drive & Cry today. The album drops May 3 via New West Records

Featured Image by Alysse Gafkjen

Leave a Reply

The Meaning Behind “Maybe Tomorrow” by Stereophonics and Why the Band Expanded Its Sound to Include Soul and R&B Influences