Here are five songs from five current albums I couldn’t help but take notice of when they were released. Have a listen, then share your own favorite tracks from current albums in the comments.
Alison Krauss & Union Station – “Lie Awake”
from Paper Angels, 2011
Written by Alison’s brother Viktor with Angel Snow, “Lie Awake” is set to an Appalachian folk song tempo usually reserved for yarns about murder, madness, and desolation. In this brooding tale of long gone wrong, the intensity of the singer’s vocal, framed by the ominous dobro plucking and her own forlorn fiddling, speaks of torments untold if she doesn’t get out before dawn.
Zac Brown Band – “Sweet Annie”
from Uncaged, 2012
Like Zac Brown, I know what it’s like to have a ‘sweet Annie’. You probably do too. She’s the girl you put on the shelf for your career, another woman, or just because you’re not ready to commit. But her honeyed southern drawl and if-you-love-him-you’ll-forgive-him nature keeps drawing you back. She’s your go-to girl when the world falls in on you. And God bless her heart, she still hasn’t realized it’s only during those times of dire circumstance you come around. To tell us about this Annie, the guys surround the verses’ breezy fiddles with the band’s airtight (and dig those repeating) harmonies. Zac Brown has made this kind of apologetic tale of wanderlust his wheelhouse.
Miranda Lambert – “Nobody’s Fool”
from Four The Record, 2011
This is another song about two ex-lovers and their chance meeting out on the town, made memorable by its unforgettable hook: “When they ask I’ll just say he’s nobody/And me, well I’m nobody’s fool“. It follows the sonic template of last year’s “Heart Like Mine” where a lighter touch would have better served the sharp lyrics. Here, Lambert has a perfect vehicle for her pipes with Chris Stapleton’s bar-fly narrative. The pain in her Texas drawl is apparent as she sings of eating her heart out while trying to ‘play it all cool’. While she aches with regret for what she’s lost, there’s a doggedness in her delivery as she fires off the chorus with her chin firmly planted outward.
Kellie Pickler – “Where’s Tammy Wynette”
from 100 Proof, 2011
As the singer looks to country’s First Lady for guidance in life, this shuffling honky-tonk number features lines like “I’m gonna search that midnight radio/’Til I find something that hurts ” that show the romanticization of an icon/heroine as opposed to another hackneyed name dropping from the list of recommended honky-tonk heroes.
Alan Jackson – “Look Her In The Eye and Lie”
from Thirty Miles West, 2012
The hook is pure common horse sense, delivered with a knowing wink. The advice – “You may not get over some loves in your life/But as you get older, you’ll know wrong more than right” – coupled with Jackson’s seasoned wisdom, belies the profundity of the lesson learned. It’s a perfect example of the classic Alan Jackson sound of sweeping medium tempo neotraditionalism and the wittiness demonstrated in his trademark self-effacing humor that makes me wonder who’s gonna fill his shoes.