In 2014, Kaitlyn Jackson wowed the American Idol judges with an original song dedicated to her grandfather and made it to the final Hollywood solo rounds. Prior to that, the New York Native got her musical start at the age of 5 singing with her father and has received the Horizon Award for promising new artists by the New York State Country Music Hall of Fame. Additionally, she has opened for major artists including Jamie O’Neal, Kristian Bush and more. In January, the seventeen year old released her self titled album and is poised to release a new single "All The Little Things."
"All The Little Things" is an uplifting single with a mid-tempo melody that showcases Jackson's voice, which has a maturity, strength and realness beyond its years. "All The Little Things" is inspirational and thoughtful; reminding us to be mindful of all of the little miracles that happen around us in daily life that assist in guiding us on our path.
"All the little things
That you take for granted
Are all the little seeds that God has planted
To keep you on your way toward a better day"Watch the video here
Purchase the single here
Carrie Underwood's "Something in The Water" and Love and Theft's "Whiskey On My Breath" are two recent releases that prominently display faith. The songs remind listeners that country music isn't always all about tailgates and having a good time, and that country music and religion have strong ties.
Christian singer Tanner Clark is contributing a sizable dose of faith to country radio with the release of "Cold Water," a song about the importance of faith that has been doing very well on Christian AC radio.
"Cold Water" is not a hymn in the traditional sense. It is a guitar and drum driven track with a very easily likable melody and tempo (reminiscent of "Lean On Me") that delivers an uplifting message of faith, finding God, and becoming a better person.
"So Baptize me down in the cold water
Wash me clean, make me a better man
When I rise You never ever let me falter
So take me down, down in the cold water"
Purchase "Cold Water" here
Watch the video here
Nashville based singer songwriter Jay Taylor released his new EP, Hold On, in January of this year. The five song collection can quite easily be described as diverse. There is some Blues, tinges of Elvis, Rock, Pop and of course, Country.
"Hello Railroad's" gentle introduction leads into a cadence that feels like a train barreling down the tracks and relates to the lyrics about paving your way and heading out on life's journey. “I'm a drifter/Can't find myself at home.” That song is preceded by "The Light," on which you can hear a 1950's influence and "Hold On," a rockin' country tune, heavy on electric guitar.
The stand outs of the EP, however, are "How I Wanted" and "The Green Dress Song." The former (with everyone's favorite--harmonica!) tells the story of a relationship that didn't end how he wanted. "You had me chained to your pocket/I was on the end trying to unlock it/Oh how I wanted to/You took me for a ride then you stopped/I saw it all coming, but I didn't get off." The latter, sprinkled with pedal steel, is a true country song about summer love that would sound splendid on country radio.
You can purchase the EP here
Canadian Country Music Association award winner and Willing Nashville recording artist Bobby Wills just released his new single, “Never Didn’t Love You,” to Country radio in the U.S.
The up tempo song, written by Wills with Walt Aldridge and Mike Pyle, has a driving energy as well as a bevvy of radio ready "nah nah nahs" that you will find yourself singing along to on first listen. "Never Didn't Love You" finds a guy, who didn't seem to say those three words often enough, reflecting on the little things that he loved about his lady including the way she sang along to the radio and how she made him feel strong when she asked him to open a jar. The lyrics, written in the past tense, make the listener wonder if she already left him or he's trying to prevent her from leaving (the video however, offers an entirely different, positive interpretation). Recognizing that "I'm just a guy baby/Not so good with words" he doesn't offer excuses or apologies, but his words are heartfelt and by the end of the song you hope she recognizes that he never didn't love her.
Whichever way you interpret it, "Never Didn't Love You" is one that would be a welcome addition to terrestrial country radio.
"If I didn't say every single day
It doesn't mean it wasn't true
If I never told you
If I never showed you
If I never shouted from the rooftops
How I felt about you baby
I always believed you'd feel it
And figured you knew
I never didn't love you"
Watch the music video for “Never Didn’t Love You” here
Texas crooner Pat Waters & The Chainlink Band’s debut single "Crazy That Way" has recently been released to radio. The track is from their latest EP, Like A Radio, which was released in February.
"Crazy That Way," written by David Lee, Tony Lane and Eric Church (yes, that Eric Church), definitely has an early Church feel, even in the way Waters delivers the lyrics; lyrics that showcase the values of marriage, family, honesty and hard work. Waters conveys thoughts like "You can't hold your head up when you got your hand out" in a believable and relateble manner. He and the song are never preachy; he's more like the everyman who is seen as the "crazy" one for still believing in traditional values (quite often missing in today's society). While you are humming or toe tapping along, really listen to the lyrics because you might just find yourself recognizing that you too are "crazy that way."
"Well I don't care if you're a four door Chevy man
Red state or blue state we're all the same
I'd fight for your right to tell me I'm wrong
That's just me, and I'm crazy that way
Wrong is wrong and right is right
I do means I do and it don't mean I might
It could be that I've gone completely plum out of my mind"
Terrestrial country radio is missing what made country music great: meaningful story songs with a traditional sound. However flipping through the channels, I heard something that made me stop and do a double take: Love and Theft's "Whiskey On My Breath." The single, written by Stephen Barker Liles with Tyler Reeve, Trent Tomlinson, Russell Dickerson, Adam Craig and Mark McGuinn, is the first from their latest (and independent) album of the same name which was released in February.
"Whiskey On My Breath" is a meaningful, honest and emotional song about a man living with an addiction that cost him dearly: "I lost her and all my friends/Broke all but one of my Lord's ten." Although he seemingly is resolved to those losses, he strives to "pull himself together" before he meets Jesus, an event that does hold importance to him. The instrumentation, as well as the duo's vocals and immaculate harmonies, convey a sadness, vulnerability and even determination.
"Oh I know I'm going to Heaven
But I can't go with me like this
I need to pull myself together before then
Lord I ain't afraid of dying
But what scares me to death
Is meeting Jesus with whiskey on my breath"
Undoubtedly, "Whiskey On My Breath" is Love and Theft's best single to date. The song can currently be heard on Sirius XM as a Highway Find.
Jordyn Stoddard's debut album, Southern Tide, will be released on March 9th. The album was produced by Grammy Award winner David Hall and mastered by Tom Coyne, who recently won seven Grammys for his work on both Taylor Swift's and Sam Smith's albums. Additionally, the album features current ACM Guitarist of the Year Rob McNelley on lead guitar. Recorded at Blackbird Studios, Southern Tide contains eleven tracks including her current single "Like Me 'Til You Love Me" and a cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams."
Stoddard shows versatility on sorrowful ballads ("The Clown") and lighter, breezy summer fare ("Southern Tide"). Her etheral voice on "Burn Out Bright," a song about remembering an evening that was "perfect for a moment", is reminiscent of Taylor Swift while "No One Wins" demonstrates a darker feel both melodically and in her delivery. Personal favorite "Disasterpiece," about finally moving on after the end of a relationship, packs the proverbial emotional punch. Whether it has only been a few years ago, or many, "Sixteen" will make you feel nostalgic for that age when love was new and worries were few and far between. "Heart First" about diving "down to the bottom of your, your love," "Politician," a clever song that compares a (not so honest) guy to an elected official and "Talk Like That" round out the album.
Stoddard's debut showcases a young woman with a bright future and is one that should appeal to all generations of music lovers.
Purchase the album here: iTunes link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/southern-tide/id964298782
Iowa native Diana Upton-Hill is making her debut on the country scene with the release of her album Do Love Well. The record contains six songs, including the lovely title track written by Mitch Goudy, on which her Broadway ready voice relays an encouraging and inspiring message.
Upton-Hill has said, "As a woman, I understand many of the day-to-day triumphs and struggles we experience in life,” says Diana. “If we focus on what's going wrong, that is all we see. But if we step back and look at all our blessings, all our beautiful perfections (and imperfections), we realize that life is full of wonder. Our spirit can be overflowing with love & joy if we would only allow it. To get love, we not only must give it; we must show it and we must do it. That's where ‘Do Love Well’ comes from. It's not about a feeling or emotion; it's about taking action and making choices to put love first.”
Things take a vibrant, rocking turn on "Southern Gentleman" an ode to those God fearing boys from Alabama, Mississippi and other southern states who treat girls like ladies from pulling out a chair to carrying your bags and saying yes ma'am. "Aim's Gettin' Better" has an old time-y acoustic introduction then goes full on dance hall number about a country girl with a broken heart and what shes' going to do about it while "Remember the Fighter," about following your heart, and dreams, leans slightly more pop. "What My Love Sounds Like" and "Take Me Away" round out the record. The former is a sweet mid-tempo love song while the latter, and closing track, is a ballad about how in a relationship, actions speak louder than words.
"Do Love Well" is an album that is, well...done well. The record is varied, yet a cohesive unit and Upton Hill's voice, clear and rich, is one that was meant for radio (or the stage).
Recorded with Grammy-award winning producer Bryan White, Do Love Well will be released on March 10th. That particular date was chosen because of its connection to Women’s History Month and National Women’s Day Sunday, March 8th.
Jill & Julia first came to the attention of many radio listeners in 2014 with their first single "Wildfire." Now the duo are ready to make a bigger impact with their latest EP Cursed (Lamon Records), which released on February 10th.
Much like the black and white cover art, Cursed has an overall brooding tone with haunting melodies that are on full display beginning with the opening track, "Sounds." The four other originals, all written by the siblings, showcase their lovely, dynamic harmonies alongside an entrancing sound slightly reminiscent of The Cranberries. "Smoke and Mirrors" with its plucky banjo, might be the most up tempo song, but deals with the complexities in relationships as does the piano laden "Trance."
In addition to the five originals, including their current single "Cursed," the EP includes two covers, "Achy Breaky Heart" (yes, that one) and Lorde's "Royals." Both are unexpected, stripped down takes on the popular songs that makes each a fresh new listen.
Jill & Julia have a distinctive and intriguing sound, much different than what you are currently hearing on terrestrial radio. If you are looking for something different in a sea of much of the same, look no further than Cursed.
Purchase Cursed here
During his career, Oklahoma native turned Texan Jon Wolfe has garnered six consecutive top ten singles. His previous release It All Happened in A Honky Tonk made him one of the must see live acts in the Texas music scene. Wolfe is a singer songwriter who is country to the core-something that is on display in his highly anticipated new album, Natural Man, set for release March 31st.
Produced by Wolfe, Lex Lipsitz and Billy Decker, the album contains thirteen tracks, including leadoff single the instantly catchy "Smile On Mine," which have a modern energy without sacrificing tradition. In addition to the instrumentation and storytelling, Wolfe’s voice is classic, strong, believable and warm--enveloping you as you listen.
From the first song, “If You're Lonely Too,” an up-tempo tune about spending some time with a woman even if it's just for a little while, to the last, the record will grab your ears (and toes for tapping) for an uninterrupted listen. Many of the tracks deal with love: whether it's just for one dance (“It Just Feels Right”), declaring your feelings to the whole town (“That’s what I’m Talkin’ About") or promising to always be there for her "like a Bible on the nightstand" in the title track.
The image of a perfect southern summer evening sitting on a porch swing with “two hearts thumping like a bass drum drumming all night” is on perfect display in "Don't It Feel Good," while “She Beats All I’ve Ever Seen” is a feel good song about how all of the worldly experiences can't match the sight of the one he loves.
The record also deals with the end of relationships. In “Outrun Her Memory” it's the inability to forget someone no matter how far he goes. "She's like a ghost that haunts me everywhere I go" while in “I’m Doin’ Alright” he has a new job, a new bachelor pad and he's doin' alright (or so he says) "except for the whiskey in my life/except for the lonely I feel every night/except for the way I miss holding you tight/except for the way I don’t sleep anymore since that day you walked out my door." Finally, in "Married to Nothin'," he warns the ladies not to get too attached because he's a wanderer, "a memory in the making" who lives by the motto "easy come easy go." "I'd love to promise you everything, but girl I know what's coming, I ain't married to nothin'."
Two standout tracks are “Singin’ Thing” and "When I Get To Heaven." The former is a gentle guitar ballad in which he reflects on falling in love with this "singin' thing" and his sometimes surprising journey chasing his dreams. The latter, and closing track, is an ode to all he loves about country music from the steel guitars, and fiddles to the honky tonks and how when he's called to Heaven, he hopes those things are there too.
Natural Man will surely garner Wolfe additional top ten singles on the Texas charts, but it is an album that would be a welcome addition to mainstream radio as well.
Natural Man is available for pre-order here and will be available for pre-order at digital retailers on March 3rd