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By 2015, the country chart’s burgeoning diversity had reached an all-time high. Pop-infused tracks crossed over into the mainstream chart, and the influence on rock was stronger than ever. In short, it was an exciting time of change and progress for country music.
Today, I’m sharing with you some of my predictions for the future of country, and my idea of where the genre is heading. Hopefully, I’ll introduce you to some new favourites, so hop on the band wagon and let’s see what’s in store for this good ol’ genre!
I still fly that southern flag,//whistling Dixieland enough to brag,//and I know all the words to simple man,//I guess that’s something you don’t understand
Essential track: ‘Ballad of a Southern Man’ (2011)
Southern country rock band, Whiskey Myers, has a sound I’d love to hear more of as the decade progresses.
Their debut album ‘Road of Life’ failed to chart on its release back in 2008, but I’m happy to report that by 2014, their third offering ‘Early Morning Shakes’ peaked at #10 and the masses had begun to warm up to this brilliant Texan five-piece.
I love the storytelling element Whiskey Myers inject into their tracks, and that’s particularly evident in ‘Ballad of a Southern Man’. The Lynyrd Skynyrd laid back style and the casually awesome vocal of Cody Cannon is fantastic.
Personally, I love this style of country, and I’d be very surprised if we don’t see more of these guys in the future. It’s stripped back, dirt track acoustic country done to perfection by a band that paid its dues in the country clubs of Texas.
If you’ve never sampled a little Whisky Myers, I recommend you remedy that today. Check out ‘Ballad of a Southern Man’, and why not follow that up with their latest album ‘Early Morning Shakes’ for a real treat!
Watching you walk away//Wishing that you would stay//Wondering what to say//All this watchin and wishin and wonderin is hard to take
Essential track: ‘Watching You Walk Away’ (2010)
A little smooth country now, from Cree-Canadian artist, Shane Yellowbird, and his 2010 track ‘Watching You Walk Away’. Let me start by saying that this is my all-time favourite track by Shane, and his soaring vocal performance as the catchy chorus takes hold never fails to give me goosebumps, making this an absolute must-hear.
Released from Shane’s second album, ‘It’s About Time’, ‘Watching You Walk Away’ failed to chart, which is a country music crime as far as I’m concerned. From the mournful steel guitar intro to the crescendo of a chorus, this is one of the prettiest country ballads around.
If you’re looking for a true underrated country track, then just check out ‘Walking You Walk Away’ from a shockingly overlooked talent. Simply stunning.
I’m gonna dress up, in my low-cut//My tight blue jeans, I’m gonna stir somethin’ up//I’m gonna kiss all the boys ’til I kiss your memory goodbye//Yeah, I’m a gonna drink myself single tonight
Essential track: ‘Drink Myself Single’ (2011)
From the finger-picking intro to Sunny’s sassy vocal style, ‘Drink Myself Single’ has awesome rocking country written all over it from the get-go. Released form Sunny’s second album ‘Concrete’, it’s always a surprise to me that this track didn’t take the country charts by storm, but it doesn’t stop me from believing it’s one of her best to date.
‘Drink Myself Single’ is swinging country perfection from start to finish with some kick-ass vocals from Sunny and the obligatory ‘I will survive’ vibe of every good anti break-up song!
There’s no crying into your ice cream here, it’s all about getting out on the town in your best heels and showing the world you’re better off without the boy who broke your heart. And if that’s not a brilliant theme for a country track, then I’ll eat my ten gallon hat!
We were taillights-fading from some blue-lights-chasing//Cut a path through the corn on County Road 44//Tore up a fence, jumped in a ditch, felt so good//We didn’t want it to end so we went
Essential track: ‘We Went’ (2015)
Randy Houser started his musical career as a songwriter, and was the co-writer of the Trace Adkins hit ‘Honky Tonk Badonkadonk’ and ‘My Cowboy’ by Jesse James amongst others. Now a recording artist in his own right, Randy’s debut album ‘Anything Goes’ was released back in 2008, but today, I’m bringing us bang up to date with his 2015 single ‘We Went’.
The lead single from Randy’s latest album, ‘Fired Up’, ‘We Went’ is a perfect showcase for this grossly overlooked country hero. Snappy, classy country with a rich, confident vocal from Randy, this driving country rock track is a surefire crowd pleaser for fans old and new.
If you’ve never heard of Randy Houser, get your ears around this rocking country track and I guarantee you’ll only want more!
She comes rolling on through like waves//I see the want in you radiate//Why wait for the landfall?//Go on and go//Devastate
Essential album: ‘Down Fell the Doves’ (2013)
With a solo career and appearances with Chris Isaak and Thrift Store Cowboys to name but two, Amanda Shires is a singer/songwriter and multitalented fiddle player extraordinaire. Whilst Amanda appears in great demand by her peers, she still remains largely neglected by the masses.
Amanda’s fourth solo album, ‘Down Fell the Doves’, is a treat of lyrically dark yet enchantingly pretty country tracks, with a touch of Dolly Parton in her vocal style and a dose of Leonard Cohen in her delivery.
It’s not the most uplifting country album you’ll ever hear, and a way off her Western swing roots, but that’s what makes it an absolute must-hear. If you’re looking for a hidden gem, ‘Down Fell the Doves’ is the album for you. Once you get a fix of Amanda’s lyrical imagery, you’ll be hooked!
It’s not a game. It’s not your choice.//It must be strange to hear my voice,//Saying don’t come back this time.//It’s too late for goodbye.
Essential track: ‘Too Late for Goodbye’ (2010)
Hailing from Texas, the Randy Rogers Band released their debut album ‘Rollercoaster’ in 2004 and have had a steady career in country music ever since. Whilst they might not have set the world on fire, they’ve produced some sterling tracks that have stayed shockingly under the radar with low chart entries.
I love ‘Too Late for Goodbye’ from the band’s 2010 album ‘Burning the Day’; from the fiddle intro to the killer hook, it’s a catchy country track of stellar proportions. A surefire crowd pleaser, I imagine fans old and new up on their feet, singing along to this cracker of a song.
It’s accessible, likeable country at its best from a band that deserves some love, so get it on your playlist today!
It goes without saying that country music originated in the USA and the majority of major stars are American, with Canada and Australia also producing some major talent over the years. But what about the UK?
My honourable mention today goes to record-breaking British country duo The Shires. Releasing their debut album ‘Brave’ in 2015, The Shires became the first UK country artists to make it into the UK album charts – and the first British country artist to be signed by a Nashville label.
After such a flying start, there can only be good things for this UK country phenomena, and their debut single ‘Nashville Grey Skies’ is an absolute pleasure to the ears, ticking every box for country music perfection. Watch this space!
I’ve loved sharing some of my favourites with you, and I’d love you to share your with me. Get commenting!
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