This month’s favorites include Lucie Silvas, Waterloo Revival, Caitlyn Smith, Katie Pruitt, and a double-hitter from Eric Church’s forthcoming album.
Natalie: OurVinyl Live EP by Katie Pruitt
Wow. Between the confident defiance of “Loving Her” (And if I’m sinning all day, I guess I’ll sin all seven / If I can still have her by the end of the week) and the painful truth of “Grace Has a Gun” (the bridge will literally rip your heart out), Katie Pruitt proves her storytelling skills a thousand times over on the five tracks she’s released through OurVinyl. Her voice transitions from gentle and effortless to powerful and arresting in the blink of an eye, but she remains in control and lets her lyrics steal the show. Pruitt tackles oft-avoided subjects with such a satisfying, listenable quality (the arrangements are impeccable) that you hardly realize she’s teaching a lesson until the last note fades and you’re left speechless. She’s a worthy passenger on the highway Brandi Carlile has so artfully paved over the last decade, and I can’t wait to hear more. Listen well, friends.
Natalli: “Heart Like A Wheel” by Eric Church
Anyone familiar with Eric Church’s catalog knows he’s fond of paying tribute to good-hearted, wholesome women capable of loving men with outlaw streaks and penchants for whiskey-filled nights. While the lyrics from “Heart Like a Wheel” (“She’s caviar and mascara, I‘m corduroy and leather”) could belong in the same love story as “Guys Like Me” and “Like Jesus Does,” Church’s second single from his highly anticipated new album, Desperate Man, explores new musical territory. The organs and chimes, complemented by Joanna Cotten’s stirring harmonies, help distinguish the soulful ballad as blues-rock. The song triggered my reflex for the replay button thanks to the sparse, emotive guitar riffs that set it apart from the current sound of country radio. “Heart Like a Wheel” could sneak easily into the rotation of an old school station and never be questioned.
Annie: “Hippie Radio” by Eric Church
I’m stealing my comment from our Marketing Director / Queen Jackie, who absolutely nailed it in saying “Hippie Radio” is the follow-up to “Chevy Van” that we never knew we needed (but absolutely do). Fittingly, the song has a bit of a rose-colored-glasses, 1970s vibe, with simple instrumentation and a melody that lands deep within your soul every time. It’s simple and stunning and nostalgic without beating you about the head with it, and deserves the repeat listens you’ll probably give it.
The song isn’t available separate from the album until Friday, but for now you can stream it on NPR, which is great since you’ll want to hear the whole thing anyway.
Markus: “This Town Is Killing Me” by Caitlyn Smith
Yes, I am late to the Caitlyn Smith party, but man is this song good. Backed by a sparse, airy, acoustic arrangement, Smith delivers a blisteringly real take on the troubles of Nashville, and chasing dreams. Has it been done before? Sure, but rarely with as much vulnerability and raw emotion on display as here. The hook, as subtle as it may be, soars, and allows Smith’s full range of talent to shine. The listener feels her pain, and equally, as with the final few lines, her perseverance. It’s an achingly open record, and one that announces Smith as a true talent to watch in the country music scene.
Amanda: Wonder Woman EP by Waterloo Revival
George Birge and Cody Cooper – better known as the charismatic men that make up the dynamic duo Waterloo Revival, promised their devoted fan base (known as Reviver Nation) that when they had new music ready to finally release, it would be well worth the wait. Their latest EP, released August 31, features three brand new tracks that are unquestionably taking Waterloo Revival’s career to the next level and right into the spotlight where they belong. As the leadoff song, “Wonder Woman” sets the tone for the EP with its Casanova-like lyrics about an instant attraction leading to something more. “Back to You” is a heartfelt love song that blends modernism with traditionalism, and “Makin’ Waves,” is undoubtedly the catchiest track on the Wonder Woman EP.
Lydia: “Change My Mind” by Lucie Silvas
If you consider yourself a free spirit with a gypsy soul who thinks they may never settle down, this one’s for you. “Change My Mind” by Lucie Silvas will captivate you upon first listen. Her unique sound and sultry, soul-stirring vocals take it to the next level on this one, leaving you open to the possibility of someone coming along who could change your mind. Key Lyrics: “You’re never gonna see my vulnerability / Cause letting your guard down only makes you weak / And love takes second place next to my pride / Till somebody comes to change my mind.”