The Hodgepodge: Substantive Lyrics on the Rise

It’s no secret that the rise of bro-country was quickly followed by a rise of complaints. Complaints about the shallow party lyrics and themes repeated in song after song from many artists. Well after a few years of party hits dominating the radio waves, we appear to be on the brink of some more depth finding its way into our mainstream country music. It’s not close to being good, but attitudes seem to be shifting and steps are being taken toward a more substantive side of country music. Substantive lyrics are the pride of country music.

Some of the lesser offenders are shifting away from the party themes to something with more story and substance. Justin Moore’s “You Look Like I Need a Drink”, Frankie Ballard’s “It All Started With a Beer”, Tim McGraw’s “Humble and Kind” and Kip Moore’s “Running For You” are all in the top 40 of the Country Airplay Chart. New singles from Toby Keith, Big & Rich, and Eric Church also show commitment to the task of deeper songs. And Love & Theft’s excellent “Whiskey on My Breath” has seen some revival thanks to Bobby Bones.

While some of the biggest offenders of bro country can’t quite get the depth in their songs, I think their attempts, however futile, shows that it’s a trend worth looking at. Sure Thomas Rhett’s “Die a Happy Man”, Cole Swindell’s “You Should Be Here” and Florida Georgia Line’s nonsensical ballad in “Confession” are all about as deep as a rain puddle, but I think the success of these songs will inspire more to follow in the depth. If his CRS performance is any indication, Luke Bryan’s next single could very well be the tender love song “To The Moon and Back.” Again, not a home run in terms of depth and substance, but I’d argue it’s the best of the four songs mentioned in this paragraph.

Beyond established mainstream acts shifting their music, we’re seeing several Americana and independent country acts get more attention in the mainstream spotlight. Chris Stapleton’s rise has been well documented by us. Sturgill Simpson signed to a major label and is poised to release an album later this year. Jason Isbell is starting to catch more attention and earning some performance time next to the likes of Luke Bryan and Sam Hunt at an upcoming benefit show for the Country Music Hall of Fame. And if you keep an eye on the articles Taste of Country and The Boot are churning out, you’ll notice that they’re starting to expand their coverage to Americana artists like Whitney Rose, Sam Outlaw and The Black Lillies.

None of this is to say that country music is on the mend or close to being great again, but more and more, we’re starting to see little steps away from shallow anthems. We’re starting to see some more depth added into the popular music. But even with one step forward, country still manages to take a few steps back. Despite promises of deeper albums, Chase Rice and Dierks Bentley’s new singles are terrible, clichéd radio fodder. And Thomas Rhett is poised to follow-up his ballad with “T-Shirt,” which is nothing more than a funky dance tune for him to further rip off Bruno Mars. Who knows what the future holds, but we could be looking at the pieces falling into place for a swing back in the right direction.

Upcoming/Recent Country Music Releases

  • Vince Gill’s newest album, Down to My Last Bad Habit will hit the shelves tomorrow.
  • Wynonna & The Big Noise will debut their self titled album tomorrow.
  • Chris King will release his second album, Animal, at the end of the month.
  • Dan + Shay have released a new single called “From the Ground Up.”
  • Lorrie Morgan’s Letting Go…Slow will be released tomorrow.
  • A Thousand Horses announce “Southernality” as their next radio single.

Throwback Thursday Song

“Shot Full of Holes” by Jason Boland & The Stragglers. From their 2001 album, Truckstop Diaries, “Shot Full of Holes” is hard-hitting tale of an imprisoned man who struggles to adapt to life inside of jail then outside of jail. Stoney LaRue also has a recording of this same song on his Downtown album.

Non-Country Suggestion of the Week


The Temple EP by Parson James. Parson James is a pop/R&B singer songwriter from New York and born in South Carolina. James found some success last year with his single “Stole the Show” and now has released this five song EP. I’m trying to expand my musical variety, and I enjoy pop and R&B music in the appropriate genre!

Tweet of the Week

Windmills’ response to Grady Smith’s tweet is perfect. Thomas Rhett did rip off Ed Sheeran with “Die a Happy Man.”

Two Chase Rice Facepalm Reviews

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 2.51.00 PM Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 2.46.56 PM

Chase Rice fans have a lot of hate for traditional country music. It’s apparently full of whiny twang. But Claire is happy that Chase Rice isn’t conforming to traditional country. He’s doing his own thing by conforming to Nashville’s bro-country/metro-country trend.

Country Perspective’s 40 Most Essential Country & Americana Albums of 2015

Country Perspective's 2015 Most Essential Albums

We’ve reached the end of 2015 and as you’ve seen over this last month there have numerous best of and worst of lists and everything in between. The “listpocalypse” as many dub it is finally ending and we can start focusing on new music really soon. But before we look forward to the new music of 2016, we want to look back one last time on the music of country and Americana in 2015. These are the albums we consider the absolute must listen albums of 2015 if you’re a fan of country and Americana. We should point out that this year’s essential albums list is different in that last year’s list was all albums that we ranked 8/10 or better. This year’s essential list only contains albums (and a few EPs) ranked 9/10 or better.

Originally we wanted to just have it narrowed down to 25 albums, but then it grew to 30 and then 35 before eventually 40. We wanted to make sure we go all of the great music on the list! Keep in mind if we didn’t put an album on this list it’s not because we’re haters or we’re attacking your favorite artist. Do not turn the comments section into “Well you didn’t put (insert name) on the list and you didn’t put this on the list, so I hate it.” Instead put together your own list in the comments if you want, as this is more constructive and creates more interesting conversation.

Now that I’ve gotten all of the ground rules out of the way, let’s get to the music. These are what we consider the 36 most essential country and Americana albums of 2015.

The Best of the Best

Jason Isbell – Something More Than Free

Whitey Morgan – Sonic Ranch

Chris Stapleton – Traveller 

The Awesome Ones

Don Henley – Cass County 

Tami Neilson – Don’t Be Afraid

Houndmouth – Little Neon Limelight 

Wade Bowen & Randy Rogers – Hold My Beer, Vol. 1

Turnpike Troubadours – Turnpike Troubadours

Sam Outlaw – Angeleno 

Jonathan Tyler – Holy Smokes

Blackberry Smoke – Holding All The Roses

Pretty Damn Great

Whitney Rose – Heartbreaker of the Year

Maddie & Tae – Start Here

Cody Jinks – Adobe Sessions

Eric Church – Mr. Misunderstood

Kacey Musgraves – Pageant Material

Gretchen Peters – Blackbirds

Brandi Carlile – The Firewatcher’s Daughter

The Malpass Brothers – The Malpass Brothers

Rick Elliot – West of the Rockies EP

The Lone Bellow – Then Came The Morning

“I Don’t Need Your Rockin’ Chair”

Dwight Yoakam – Second Hand Heart 

George Strait – Cold Beer Conversation

Alan Jackson – Angels & Alcohol

James McMurtry – Complicated Game

Willie Nelson & Merle Haggard – Django & Jimmie

Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell – The Traveling Kind

A Little Bit of Everything

John Moreland – High On Tulsa Heat

The Mavericks – Mono

Banditos – Banditos

Corb Lund – Things That Can’t Be Undone

Lindi Ortega – Faded Gloryville 

Will Hoge – Small Town Dreams

Jon Pardi – The B-Sides, 2011-2014 EP

Jamie Lin Wilson – Holidays & Wedding Rings

Justin Townes Earle – Absent Fathers 

Tony Furtado – The Bell

Allison Moorer – Down To Believing 

Kasey Chambers – Bittersweet

The Black Lillies – Hard To Please 

The Americana Airplay Chart Rundown [December 7]

Josh Ritter Sermon Over The Rocks

This is The Americana Airplay Chart Rundown. Every week I’ll post the top 40 from the Americana Airplay chart, which is obtained from AmericanaRadio.org. From the site: “The Americana Airplay chart represents the reported play of terrestrial radio stations, nationally syndicated radio shows, satellite radio and internet stations who have agreed to submit weekly spin counts. For more information please visit www.americanamusic.org.”

The goal of this feature is to track and monitor the current most popular music in the Americana realm, as I believe it’s starting to take on a bigger importance in the world of music, especially concerning the current state of country music. In addition it will bring some new names to the site that haven’t been covered here before and could lead to more Americana coverage. It’s also a place to discuss anything going on in the Americana genre at this moment. Be sure to weigh in on the chart in the comments below.

  1. Josh Ritter – Sermon On The Rocks [Up 3]
  2. Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin – Lost Time [Down 1]
  3. Jason Isbell – Something More Than Free (Grade: 10/10) [Down 1]
  4. Joe Ely – Panhandle Rambler [Down 1]
  5. The Black Lillies – Hard To Please (Grade: 9/10)
  6. The Bottle Rockets – South Broadway Athletic Club (Grade: 8.5/10)
  7. Los Lobos – Gates Of Gold 
  8. Nathaniel Rateliff and The Nightsweats – Nathaniel Rateliff and The Nightsweats 
  9. Corb Lund – Things That Can’t Be Undone (Grade: 9/10)
  10. Jim Lauderdale – Soul Searching [Up 3]
  11. Patty Griffin – Servant of Love [Down 1]
  12. Chris Isaak – First Comes The Night [Up 2]
  13. Don Henley – Cass County (Grade: 10/10) [Down 1]
  14. The Wood Brothers – Paradise [Down 3]
  15. Ryan Adams – 1989
  16. Tim O’Brien – Pompadour
  17. Steve Martin & Edie Brickell – So Familiar
  18. The Dave Rawlings Machine – Nashville Obsolete
  19. Lindi Ortega – Faded Gloryville (Grade: 9/10) [Up 1]
  20. Various Artists – Cold & Bitter Tears: The Songs of Ted Hawkins [Up 3]
  21. Billy Gibbons – Perfectamundo [Down 2]
  22. Chris Stapleton – Traveller (Grade: 10/10) [Down 1]
  23. Lucero – All A Man Should Do [Down 1]
  24. Jeffrey Foucault – Salt As Wolves
  25. Glen Hansard – Didn’t He Ramble 
  26. Turnpike Troubadours – Turnpike Troubadours (Grade: 10/10) [Up 1]
  27. Cox Family – Gone Like The Cotton [Up 3]
  28. Webb Wilder – Mississippi Moderne [Down 2]
  29. Bart Crow – The Parade [Up 3]
  30. Jason Boland & The Stragglers – Squelch (Grade: 8.5/10) [Down 1]
  31. Cody Jinks – Adobe Sessions (Grade: 9/10)
  32. Shinyribs – Okra Candy [Down 4]
  33. Shawn Colvin – Uncovered 
  34. Shawn Mullins – My Stupid Heart [Up 1]
  35. The Damn Quails – Out of The Birdcage (Grade: 8.5/10) [Down 1]
  36. Kacey Musgraves – Pageant Material (Grade: 9/10) [Up 2]
  37. Samantha Fish – Wild Heart [Up 2]
  38. Shovels & Rope – Busted Jukebox Volume 1 [New]
  39. Amy Helm – Didn’t It Rain [Down 3]
  40. Shemekia Copeland – Outskirts of Love [Down 3]

The Americana Airplay Chart Rundown [November 30]

Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin Lost Time

This is The Americana Airplay Chart Rundown. Every week I’ll post the top 40 from the Americana Airplay chart, which is obtained from AmericanaRadio.org. From the site: “The Americana Airplay chart represents the reported play of terrestrial radio stations, nationally syndicated radio shows, satellite radio and internet stations who have agreed to submit weekly spin counts. For more information please visit www.americanamusic.org.”

The goal of this feature is to track and monitor the current most popular music in the Americana realm, as I believe it’s starting to take on a bigger importance in the world of music, especially concerning the current state of country music. In addition it will bring some new names to the site that haven’t been covered here before and could lead to more Americana coverage. It’s also a place to discuss anything going on in the Americana genre at this moment. Be sure to weigh in on the chart in the comments below.

  1. Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin – Lost Time 
  2. Jason Isbell – Something More Than Free (Grade: 10/10)
  3. Joe Ely – Panhandle Rambler 
  4. Josh Ritter – Sermon On The Rocks
  5. The Black Lillies – Hard To Please (Grade: 9/10)
  6. The Bottle Rockets – South Broadway Athletic Club (Grade: 8.5/10)
  7. Los Lobos – Gates Of Gold [Up 1]
  8. Nathaniel Rateliff and The Nightsweats – Nathaniel Rateliff and The Nightsweats [Up 3]
  9. Corb Lund – Things That Can’t Be Undone (Grade: 9/10) 
  10. Patty Griffin – Servant of Love [Down 3]
  11. The Wood Brothers – Paradise [Up 2]
  12. Don Henley – Cass County (Grade: 10/10) [Down 2]
  13. Jim Lauderdale – Soul Searching [Down 1]
  14. Chris Isaak – First Comes The Night [Up 2]
  15. Ryan Adams – 1989 [Up 4]
  16. Tim O’Brien – Pompadour [Down 2]
  17. Steve Martin & Edie Brickell – So Familiar [Down 2]
  18. The Dave Rawlings Machine – Nashville Obsolete
  19. Billy Gibbons – Perfectamundo [Up 6]
  20. Lindi Ortega – Faded Gloryville (Grade: 9/10) 
  21. Chris Stapleton – Traveller (Grade: 10/10)
  22. Lucero – All A Man Should Do [Down 5]
  23. Various Artists – Cold & Bitter Tears: The Songs of Ted Hawkins [Down 1]
  24. Jeffrey Foucault – Salt As Wolves [Up 2]
  25. Glen Hansard – Didn’t He Ramble [Down 2]
  26. Webb Wilder – Mississippi Moderne [Down 2]
  27. Turnpike Troubadours – Turnpike Troubadours (Grade: 10/10)
  28. Shinyribs – Okra Candy
  29. Jason Boland & The Stragglers – Squelch (Grade: 8.5/10) [Up 1]
  30. Cox Family – Gone Like The Cotton [Down 1]
  31. Cody Jinks – Adobe Sessions (Grade: 9/10) [Up 5]
  32. Bart Crow – The Parade [Up 2]
  33. Shawn Colvin – Uncovered [Down 2]
  34. The Damn Quails – Out of The Birdcage (Grade: 8.5/10) [Down 1]
  35. Shawn Mullins – My Stupid Heart
  36. Amy Helm – Didn’t It Rain [Up 2]
  37. Shemekia Copeland – Outskirts of Love
  38. Kacey Musgraves – Pageant Material (Grade: 9/10) [Down 6]
  39. Samantha Fish – Wild Heart [New]
  40. Steve Forbert – Compromised

The Americana Airplay Chart Rundown [November 23]

Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin Lost Time

This is The Americana Airplay Chart Rundown. Every week I’ll post the top 40 from the Americana Airplay chart, which is obtained from AmericanaRadio.org. From the site: “The Americana Airplay chart represents the reported play of terrestrial radio stations, nationally syndicated radio shows, satellite radio and internet stations who have agreed to submit weekly spin counts. For more information please visit www.americanamusic.org.”

The goal of this feature is to track and monitor the current most popular music in the Americana realm, as I believe it’s starting to take on a bigger importance in the world of music, especially concerning the current state of country music. In addition it will bring some new names to the site that haven’t been covered here before and could lead to more Americana coverage. It’s also a place to discuss anything going on in the Americana genre at this moment. Be sure to weigh in on the chart in the comments below.

  1. Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin – Lost Time 
  2. Jason Isbell – Something More Than Free (Grade: 10/10)
  3. Joe Ely – Panhandle Rambler 
  4. Josh Ritter – Sermon On The Rocks [Up 2]
  5. The Black Lillies – Hard To Please (Grade: 9/10) [Down 1]
  6. The Bottle Rockets – South Broadway Athletic Club (Grade: 8.5/10) [Up 1]
  7. Patty Griffin – Servant of Love [Down 2]
  8. Los Lobos – Gates Of Gold [Up 1]
  9. Corb Lund – Things That Can’t Be Undone (Grade: 9/10) [Up 1]
  10. Don Henley – Cass County (Grade: 10/10) [Down 2]
  11. Nathaniel Rateliff and The Nightsweats – Nathaniel Rateliff and The Nightsweats [Up 1]
  12. Jim Lauderdale – Soul Searching [Up 1]
  13. The Wood Brothers – Paradise [Down 2]
  14. Tim O’Brien – Pompadour [Up 7]
  15. Steve Martin & Edie Brickell – So Familiar [Up 4]
  16. Chris Isaak – First Comes The Night [Up 14]
  17. Lucero – All A Man Should Do [Down 3]
  18. The Dave Rawlings Machine – Nashville Obsolete [Down 3]
  19. Ryan Adams – 1989 [Down 2]
  20. Lindi Ortega – Faded Gloryville (Grade: 9/10) [Down 2]
  21. Chris Stapleton – Traveller (Grade: 10/10) [Down 5]
  22. Various Artists – Cold & Bitter Tears: The Songs of Ted Hawkins 
  23. Glen Hansard – Didn’t He Ramble [Down 3]
  24. Webb Wilder – Mississippi Moderne [Up 2]
  25. Billy Gibbons – Perfectamundo [New]
  26. Jeffrey Foucault – Salt As Wolves [Down 2]
  27. Turnpike Troubadours – Turnpike Troubadours (Grade: 10/10) [Down 4]
  28. Shinyribs – Okra Candy [Up 4]
  29. Cox Family – Gone Like The Cotton [Down 2]
  30. Jason Boland & The Stragglers – Squelch (Grade: 8.5/10) [Down 2]
  31. Shawn Colvin – Uncovered [Down 6]
  32. Kacey Musgraves – Pageant Material (Grade: 9/10) [Down 3]
  33. The Damn Quails – Out of The Birdcage (Grade: 8.5/10) [Down 2]
  34. Bart Crow – The Parade
  35. Shawn Mullins – My Stupid Heart [Up 4]
  36. Cody Jinks – Adobe Sessions (Grade: 9/10) [New]
  37. Shemekia Copeland – Outskirts of Love [Down 4]
  38. Amy Helm – Didn’t It Rain 
  39. Kevin Gordon – Long Gone Time [Down 3]
  40. Steve Forbert – Compromised [New]