Americana has a long and storied history that has its fair share of offshoots and diverting subgenres. Basically, it can be a bit hard to define. Over the years, the term has been spread far and wide for anyone who uses the roots of music—namely folk, country, bluegrass, blues, and gospel—to conjure up the spirit of artists from a time gone by.
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As the Americana Music Association celebrated all that the genre has to offer during Americana Fest, let’s look at some tracks from the past few years that you should add to your playlist toot sweet!
1. “In Dreams” (Sierra Ferrell)
As anyone whose been on Tik Tok in the past year knows, Sierra Ferrell is hitting her stride. “In Dreams” highlights Ferrell’s warping and bending vocals overtop classic roots shuffle. The hook is tried and true earworm material and the bounce of her backing band is insatiable. This song deserves a spot on your playlist.
2. “Uh Huh” (Jade Bird)
Though Jade Bird hails from England, she is steeped deep within the charms of Americana. From her self-titled 2019 album, “Uh Huh” sees the singer laughing at her ex from a distance as his new girlfriend strings him along—exactly as he did to her. You know what they say about karma…
3. “That’s How Love Is Made” (The War and Treaty)
In this stunner from The War and Treaty, the Nashville duo is opening their hearts and letting it all out. Exploring what true partnership means, the track is yet another masterclass in harmony from husband-and-wife Michael Trotter Jr. and Tanya Trotter. As far as bluesy ballads go this year, this one is a strong contender for the top spot.
4. “Sleep At Night” (The Chicks)
Gaslighter was the first album from The Chicks that was made post-divorce for all three women and the lyrical content makes that fact very clear. “Sleep At Night” is one of the most cutting tracks from the album, with lyrics like my husband’s girlfriend’s husband just called me up / how messed up is that / it’s so insane that I have to laugh / but then I think about our two boys trying to become men / there’s nothing funny about that.
5. “All The Good Times” (Angel Olsen)
Angel Olsen’s 2022 album, Big Time, delivered a host of Americana gems with “All The Good Times” being a standout. The slow-burning track is reminiscent of the heartbroken wiles of Tammy Wynette as she sings I don’t know who can see you / if you’ve ever learned how to let someone in / well, I’ve tried to comе find you / but I just don’t know where to begin.
6. “Four Letter Word” (Lukas Nelson and Promise of The Real)
From Lukas Nelson and Promise of The Real’s self-titled 2017 album, “Four Letter Word” is a fun little number about longing for independence while in a relationship. In the vein of wry country classics from the likes of Johnny Cash and his father, Willie Nelson, he sings real commitment seems absurd / out here in the country / forever is a four letter word.
7. “Learning To Lose (feat. Willie Nelson)” (Margo Price)
As the old adage goes, “experience is the best teacher, but the tuition is high.” Margo Price and Willie Nelson explore that idea in “Learning To Lose.” From Price’s 2017 album All American Made, the two trade verses before joining up in the chorus to sing won’t you tell me how long must I pay off these dues? / won’t you tell me is winning learning to lose? / you said it, oh but say that it’s not true / is winning really learning to lose? They pose a good question. We pray they tell us when they figure out the answer.
8. “You and Me On The Rock (feat. Lucius)” (Brandi Carlile)
Brandi Carlile has long credited Joni Mitchell as a major influence on her latest album In These Silent Days. On “You and Me On The Rock” Mitchell’s presence is well and accounted for with a driving guitar riff and lyrics chock full of imagery. The song also features backing harmonies from indie pop group Lucius, adding to its appeal even more.
Photo by Neil Krug / Sacks & Co