Could it be we’re finally hearing what we’ve been hoping for?
An abbreviated post for this week is highlighted by the return of Country Universe favorite Charlie Worsham, who announced the track listing and release date for his upcoming sophomore album, Beginning of Things. While there’s been no shortage of new women who have been making music we love over the past few years, the men have mostly been a legion of interchangeable clones of either Luke Bryan or Sam Hunt. Along with Drake White, Worsham is perhaps the mainstream’s best bet for a distinctive and worthwhile new leading man, and his new material sounds fantastic thus far.
In terms of new releases, this week is led by the brilliant new record from Tift Merritt. There’s also the sophomore album from Lauren Alaina, a new collaboration between Chris Thile and Brad Mehldau, and a Brantley Gilbert album that includes a track called “Bro Code” that is literally one of the worst things ever written.
New Releases & Reissues, 1/27/2017
Lauren Alaina, Road Less Travelled. (Mercury Nashville / 19)
Brigitte DeMeyer & Will Kimbrough, Mockingbird Soul. (MRI)
Brantley Gilbert, The Devil Don’t Sleep. (Valory Music Group)
Delbert McClinton & The Self-Made Men, Prick of the Litter. (Thirty Tigers)
Tift Merritt, Stitch of the World. (Yep Roc)
Eddy Raven, The Best of Eddy Raven. (RCA / Legacy)
Whitney Rose, South Texas Suite. (Six Shooter)
Chris Thile & Brad Mehldau, Chris Thile & Brad Mehldau. (Nonesuch)
Billboard National Country Airplay:
#1: Blake Shelton, “A Guy With a Girl” (2 weeks)
Most Increased Audience: Lady Antebellum, “You Look Good”
Most Added: Lady Antebellum, “You Look Good” (60); Kenny Chesney, “Bar at the End of the World” (25); Cole Swindell, “Flatliner” (15); Seth Ennis, “Woke Up in Nashville” (14); Brothers Osborne, “It Ain’t My Fault” (14).
Debuts: Lady Antebellum, “You Look Good” (#27); Tucker Beathard, “Momma and Jesus” (re-entry, #55); Drew Baldridge feat. Emily Weisband, “Rebound” (#59); Ryan Follese, “Put a Label on It” (re-entry, #60).
Notes: It’s been nearly unheard of in recent years, but Blake Shelton’s “A Guy With a Girl” makes for back-to-back multi-week #1 hits; Carrie Underwood’s streak of top-2 singles remains intact, as “Dirty Laundry” drops from its peak back to #3; Little Big Town’s “Better Man” is racing toward the top of the chart, up 2 more places to #6 this week; Brad Paisley’s status as radio has been hit-or-miss over the last few years, but “Today” (#9) cracks the top 10 after just 16 weeks; Michael Ray’s revolting “Think a Little Less” enters the top 10 after an excruciating 40 weeks at radio; even worse, Ray’s single leapfrogged over “Kill a Word” by Eric Church feat. Rihannon Giddens (up from #12 to #11); Maren Morris’ “80s Mercedes” (#14) and Chris Stapleton’s “Parachute” (#17) are still hanging around despite posting losses in overall audience again this week; Miranda Lambert’s “We Should Be Friends” (#30) cracks the top 30 this week, with Runaway June’s “Lipstick” (#31) right on her heels; in 37 weeks, Parmalee’s “Roots” is somehow still
taking up chart space posting tiny audience gains at #37; evidently the official single version of Cole Swindell’s awful-even-for-him “Flatliner” (#39) isn’t the one that includes Dierks Bentley; the Backstreet Boys are on the verge of their first top 40 hit at country radio, as “God, Your Mama, and Me,” their collaboration with Florida Georgia Line, climbs to #44 in just its second week on the chart; Hunter Hayes continues to struggle to connect at radio, as “Yesterday’s Song” loses a smidge of its audience at #51 after a full three months at radio; Drake White’s “Makin’ Me Look Good Again” rebounds slightly, back up from #60 to #56 this week; Candi Carpenter’s fantastic “Burn the Bed” (#57) loses a bit more audience as it remains unclear what kind of promotional push she’s receiving from Sony; Chase Rice’s “Everybody We Know Does” has been sent to recurrent status without ever sleazing its way into the top 40.
Elsewhere on Billboard‘s Radio Charts:
Having three separate singles out concurrently maybe isn’t the best maneuver for Ryan Adams, as “Do You Still Love Me” drops from #7 to #8 at AAA radio after only six weeks on the chart; “Good With God” by Old 97s feat. Brandi Carlile is off and running, up to #17 in its second week; Son Volt have officially charted as of this week, as “Back Against the Wall” debuts at #28; scoring additional station adds at AAA are Valerie June’s “Shakedown” (4), Robert Randolph & The Family Band feat. Darius Rucker’s “Love Do What It Do” (4), Brent Cobb’s “Black Crow” (1), Nikki Lane’s “Jackpot” (1), and Tift Merritt’s “Dusty Old Man” (1); Ryan Adams’ “Doomsday” and Lady Antebellum’s “You Look Good” both scored a single station add at Adult Contemporary radio; “Thy Will” by Hillary Scott & The Scott Family keeps on keeping on at Christian radio, holding at #7 again and losing only 9 total spins.
News & Notes
On January 21st, the incomparable Crystal Gayle was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry by her sister, country music icon Loretta Lynn. The two legends were both emotional throughout the induction, a years-overdue recognition for Gayle, who received a richly deserved standing ovation from the appreciative crowd. (JK)
“Unfortunately, I think we were given a huge extension on the shelf life of our record… I didn’t bargain for that. I would gladly trade that. But it’s made the shows just ferocious.”
— Patterson Hood, co-frontman of the Drive-By Truckers, considered how the results of the presidential election have impacted the band’s current tour in support of their tremendous album, American Band. (JK)
Watch Miranda Lambert sing “Woke Up This Morning,” a song of the Civil Rights Movement, with her father, Rick Lambert, Anderson East, and Gwen Sebastian. The rousing performance at Joe’s Bar was a single-night rehearsal for her upcoming tour and benefited the Miranda Lambert Women Creators Scholarship at Belmont University, which is awarded to female students pursuing careers in the music industry. (LMW)
Chris Janson gave a strong performance of “Holdin’ Her”– still one of the best singles at country radio, despite its lack of progress on the charts– on Today. (JK)
At NPR, you can read Ann Powers’ rave review and hear the title track of Charlie Worsham’s upcoming album, Beginning of Things, due out on April 21st! And over at American Songwriter, you can also hear the album track “Old Time’s Sake,” which was inspired by a line from Mad Men. (LMW)
“If you want to maintain your right to sing about what’s honest, you have to demand that same honesty from our highest levels of government. It’s integral to referring to yourself as an “artist,” and essential to carrying on the genre’s commitment to truth. If you’re ambivalent about any of this, by all means, proceed with business as usual. But if you’re concerned about a crew member’s ability to obtain health coverage, or about the rights of the many LGBTQ members of our industry, or about discrimination against people of color, or most of all, about the future of your own kids, it’s time to speak up, Nashville. Either in song, onstage or online. Because country music isn’t three chords and the alternative facts.”
— Joseph Hudak argued that country artists should engage in more explicit political discourse in an editorial, “Why It’s Time for Country Stars to Speak Up About Trump,” for Rolling Stone. It’s an interesting perspective, if not necessarily one that Hudak argues in great detail or depth. (TS / JK)
The awesome Sunny Sweeney premiered “Better Bad Idea,” the lead single from her upcoming album, Trophy. (JK)
Reba unveiled the music video for “Back to God,” the first single from her forthcoming gospel album. (JK)
That will do it for this week. Check back this week for more new reviews!