This week we look at 10 new singles from country stars like Miranda Lambert, Kellie Pickler, Phil Vassar, and Rodney Atkins. We also take a look at singles from newcomers Marlee Scott, The Dirt Drifters, The Farm, Wade Bowen, and JT Hodges.
We generally enjoy each of the songs on this list yet we can’t help but feel disappointed in a couple of them. No doubt, though, that we expect big things from the latest Miranda Lambert single, in addition to thinking that JT Hodges is bound to break through in a big way with the tasty earworm “Goodbyes Made You Mine.” We hope you enjoy this rundown of 10 of the most recent radio single releases. We’ve included links to listen or read longer reviews (where possible).
Marlee Scott – “Train Wreck (Feat. Vince Gill)”
This Canadian import impressed us last year with “Beautiful Maybe” and now she’s back in 2012 with this strong single written by Marcus Hummon, Sarah Buxton and Jedd Hughes. Containing lots of fiddle and steel guitar and banjos but never abandoning a mainstream sound that should have radio looking at the quirky tune and giving it a spin or two. It’s not as melodic as “Beautiful Maybe” but it’s definitely more fun and Vince Gill’s harmonies only help to make the song a stand-out amongst a sea of safe and sameness.
The Dirt Drifters – “There She Goes”
We’ve loved this band at Roughstock since we first heard them. This is My Blood even was our #1 album of the year and previous singles “Something Better” and “Always A Reason” both were strong, blue collar anthems. This one is rootsy, acoustic-leaning in the beginning and showcases the band’s tight harmonies and strong musicianship as it tells a story of a guy who is agonizing over the loss of a great woman, who knows it was his own damn fault for the ending of the relationship. Hopefully this is the single to get country radio interested in a truly great band as there are a few other great singles to be found on the album (or re-issues of the two previous singles).
Wade Bowen – “Saturday Night”
Already a star in Texas, Wade Bowen’s breaking out in the mainstream country music market with this strong single for Sea Gayle/BNA. One of the most emotive vocalists working in all of country/roots music today, Wade sings a story about being lonely on a Saturday night. It’s not a stereotypical story about Saturday nights so that is refreshing while the story isn’t wrapped in melodramatic balladry but rather a groove-filled mid-tempo melody with room for some great guitar fills. This is totally a ‘mood’ single (and it’s already a huge hit in Texas, as we’d expect it to be given Wade’s an A-list star there).
The Farm – “Home Sweet Home”
Another of our fifteen new artists to watch in 2012, The Farm has lived around the #40 slot on the Billboard radio chart for about a month now but we’d like nothing better than to see this band with an interesting vocal blend and harmony to break through in a big way. This single is unique without being too far removed from the kind of stuff radio likes to play and in a just world, it’d be big ole hit.
Tyler Farr – “Hot Mess”
A talented up and comer who also made our Ones to Watch list for 2012, Tyler Farr has nonetheless released a single which has an interesting hook and that’s about it. His vocal is strong but lyrically the song is just, well, a hot mess. We still believe in him but in today’s market, he may not get another shot if he releases more pedestrian songs like this one.
JT Hodges – “Goodbyes Made You Mine”
JT Hodges hit the Top 40 at country radio late in 2011 with the strong and fun “Hunt You Down” and that was enough to make him yet another one of the 15 new artists to watch in 2012 and this single, unlike Tyler Farr’s above, is a great reason why. It’s melodic, relentlessly catchy with rapid-fire verses which discuss all the ways old relationships made the girl right for him with the a catchy Keith Urban-like chorus which tells the girl he’s everything that those guys weren’t and that the ‘goodbyes made you mine.” It’s the kind of song that just sounds good coming out of a car’s speakers or an office radio setting so I can’t see how this one’s NOT a hit.
Rodney Atkins – “He’s Mine”
I’ve liked far more Rodney Atkins singles than I’ve disliked but count this one in the dislike chamber. It’s just not that interesting of a lyric or melody enough to get my attention. There are far better songs on Take A Back Road and as the follow-up to that Platinum-selling #1 hit title track, this one’s a big disappointment.
Kellie Pickler – 100 Proof
Currently being ‘worked’ to smaller market radio stations that report to ‘indicator’ and Music Row’s charts, this title track to Kellie Pickler’s superb album sounds really good. If you can imagine the modern traditional sound of hits from artists like Lee Ann Womack, you should get a great idea about the kind of quality single “100 Proof” is. Already Top 30 on the Music Row chart in just four weeks, that should be good enough reason for the big market stations to get this strong ballad about a strong love that survives tough tides in a relationship. – Matt Bjorke
Miranda Lambert – Over You
“Over You”, the latest offering from Miranda Lambert, shows that simplicity is indeed often the best – and most genuine method for getting out painful emotions. The muse in this case is her hubby Blake Shelton’s older brother, who died in a car accident in 1990. Shelton opened up about the pain and two sat and wrote a beautiful song, that even 20 years later, should serve as a catharsis for Shelton. It’s a raw account of pain and emotions (that should have a new layer of emotion giving Shelton’s father’s recent passing). – Kyle Ward
Phil Vassar – Don’t Miss Your Life
With a spotty release history the past few years, Phil Vassar comes back with a very strong single as his second for his own label RodeoWave entertainment. “Don’t Miss Your Life” is the kind tender-hearted story song that country’s piano man does better than just about any other mainstream country music artist. While he scored a Top 40 hit with the ditty “Let’s Get Together,” “Don’t Miss Your Life” is what I love about his songwriting. The story is sort of a modern countrified tale a la “Cats in the Cradle” and while not as memorable as the iconic Harry Chapin single, Vassar’s “Don’t Miss Your Life” certainly works as a cautionary tale many should pay attention to.
Well there you go folks, this week’s rundown of 10 recent new single releases in country music. As always, we thank you for taking the time to read this new feature. What do you think of the feature? Have you heard/heard of these songs listed yet? Please leave a comment below to let us know what you think!