Another week, another music legend gone.
2016 continues to be just awful when it comes to the giants of popular music; now Prince is gone. It’s a testament to how far-reaching his influence was that he penned songs– pseudonymously, of course– for country artists during his most prolific period, and some of today’s country acts were eager to pay tribute to him this week.
Elsewhere, it’s a light week for new releases and reissues. I’ll admit that I knew nothing about “Nudie” prior to compiling this week’s post, but I’m certainly intrigued by the song samples on his website. Trisha Yearwood is finding a spot on radio again– Can a get a hallelujah? Can I get an amen?– while Chely Wright announced a new album. Sara Watkins and Hillary Scott released new music, and Sturgill Simpson– who, at the moment, is battling Rihanna and Chris Stapleton for the #1 spot on this week’s Billboard 200 all-genre albums chart– premiered perhaps the most important song of the year.
New Releases & Reissues, 4/22/2016
Josh Kelley, New Lane Road. (Sugar Hill)
Michael Martin Murphey, High Stakes: Cowboy Songs VII. (Murphey Kinship Recordings)
Juice Newton, Emotion (1987). (RCA / Legacy)
Nudie, Everything’s Different in the Night. (Nudie Music)
News and Notes
Along with a sharp review from Ann Powers, NPR’s “Songs We Love” gives us a chance to listen to and watch the video for “Move Me,” the first single from Sara Watkins’ new album. Watkins’ third solo album, Young in All the Wrong Ways, will be released July 1st. It will be her first album for New West Records, and they are offering some pre-sale incentives over at Pledge Music. (LMW)
The music world is mourning the loss of a true giant and innovator in Prince this week. Speaking to the true breadth of his talent and influence, in 1986, Kenny Rogers recorded a song called, “You’re My Love,” which was written by Prince under the pseudonym of Joey Coco. (LMW)
Country artists paying tribute to Prince this week included Little Big Town, who performed a brief a capella cover of “When Doves Cry,” and American Idol finalist Kree Harrison, who gave an acoustic performance of “Nothing Compares 2 U” for Taste of Country. (TS)
“This really feels like ‘old times again’– when I could feel positive things happening in my career and it was all because of energy and momentum that only comes from fans. It cannot be generated by industry hype (as much as I benefitted from those types of efforts on many occasions in my career), it cannot be synthesized by landing the right press piece… no, this kind of energy is something that is truly real. It’s as good as it gets.”
— Chely Wright, in a letter to her fans, announced that she will be releasing her Kickstarter-funded album on September 21st. The Joe Henry produced I Am the Rain will feature guests Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell, and The Milk Carton Kids. (LMW)
Thao Nguyen of the just-awesome Thao And The Get Down Stay Down spoke about her love for Lucinda Williams’ classic song “Drunken Angel” as part of KUTX’s “This Song” series. (JK)
“I hope that country radio will look at the success of the AC and say, ‘We want to be playing Trisha Yearwood music on our station.’ It’s been fun to see that there is a place for me there and that people are responding.”
— Trisha Yearwood reflected on the success that her cover of Lifehouse’s “Broken” from The Passion: Live has found at Adult Contemporary radio. This week, the single hit the top 20 at that format, marking Yearwood’s biggest hit at AC radio and her first crossover hit since “Trying To Love You.” And we would certainly love it if country radio made room for Yearwood again. (JK)
Last week, we mentioned that Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott was recording a gospel album with her family. This week, Scott whets our appetite for the album, which includes her parents, Linda Davis and Lane Scott, along with her sister, with the premiere of the lyric video for the single “Thy Will.” The gospel album, Love Remains, is produced by Ricky Skaggs, and a release date will be announced in the next few weeks. (LMW)
NPR’s World Cafe hosted a “Sense of Place” trip in Raleigh-Durham, NC, where they caught up with indie band Hiss Golden Messenger and Country Universe favorite Tift Merritt. Merritt and Hiss Golden Messenger performed a lovely cover of the title track from her debut album, Bramble Rose. Also as part of the series, NPR dug into the World Cafe archives and re-posted a killer in-studio set by Whiskeytown from back in 1997! (JK)
The latest “Back Porch Session” from Garden & Gun features one of our favorite up-and-coming acts, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats. (JK)
“It has been hard to realize that I have to spend time away from my son; I never want to do that… But when I am home I’m with him 100 percent of the time. I try to look at the fact that Loretta Lynn had four children before she made it, Tammy (Wynette) was also a mom, and Emmylou Harris. But you see men do it all the time and it’s not a question that people would probably ask Sturgill Simpson. But it’s harder for a mother to be away from home, and I’ve felt judgment from friends, at times. Like, ‘How does it feel to go vacation everywhere and go to Europe and leave your kid at home?’ It’s not always a vacation and it is work.”
— Margo Price spoke about balancing motherhood and her touring schedule as part of an interview with Roman Gokhman. Gokhman also penned a fantastic, in-depth profile of Price for Paste magazine this week. (JK)
Maren Morris and Brothers Osborne performed a fantastic cover of Chris Stapleton’s “Fire Away” at this week’s AIMP Awards. (JK)
“That was the whole country, playing bars and dives. There’d be times when 50 people would be in there, and 30 of them were watching the game on TV. There was a lot of humble pie for a lot of years.”
— Kip Moore remembers when he wasn’t the biggest draw in the room as part of an interview with Paul Sexton of uDiscover Music. (JK)
Not to be outdone by the ACMs as their dubious “Crystal Milestone” awards, the what-is-the-point-of-these-again American Country Countdown awards announced that Brooks & Dunn will be receiving a “Nash Icon Award” at the show on May 1st. We’re sure the duo will be clearing shelf space among their haul of Grammy, CMA, and ACM trophies. (JK)
And, in perhaps the greatest thing that has happened in all of popular culture in 2016, Sturgill Simpson and Stephen Colbert premiered “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Knuckleheads,” a song dedicated to Waffle House. Simpson also performed his single, “Brace for Impact (Live a Little),” but, great as that song is, it doesn’t have any lines about evil robots enslaving mankind. (JK)
That’s it for this week!