The Sunday Morning Paper is a weekly feature where I share news that’s occurred within the country music industry over the past week and quote from any further pieces that interest me, and may interest you.
We’re still in the early stages of this feature, so I’d like to make one thing clear: While this is intended to offer a straightforward roundup of what’s occurred within the country music industry over the past week, ultimately, I’m bound to miss a lot, and I’m bound to gravitate first and foremost toward bits that interest me most. With that said, I encourage anyone reading to send me whatever else they feel I’ve missed or would like to see included. Anyway, onward!
On the Horizon:
New album releases:
- Lucero – When You Found Me
- Langhorne Slim – Strawberry Mansion
- Pony Bradshaw – Calico Jim
- David Miner – Silver Valley
- Lilly Winwood – Time Well Spent
- Alabama Slim – The Parlor
- Drayton Farley – A Hard Up Life
- Three Pairs of Boots – Long Rider
- Heath Sanders – Common Ground (EP)
- Jenna Torres – All Heart
- Jeremy Studdard – On My Own
- Treaty Oak Revival – No Vacancy
- Aaron Watson – American Soul (physical release)
- Rod Abernathy – Normal Isn’t Normal
- Grant Nesmith – Dreams Of The Coast
- Wes Chiller – Buffalo John & the Rainbow Crew
- Aaron Vance – Cabin Fever
- The Carloways – Resuscitator
Impacting country radio:
- Andrew Jannakos, “Gone Too Soon” (moved from an original impact date of Jan. 25)
- Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley, “Freedom Was A Highway”
Solo reviews are planned for Pony Bradshaw’s Calico Jim and Lucero’s When You Found Me, though I haven’t yet decided which one to cover first. I’m also reserving Lilly Winwood’s Time Well Spent for a future album review roundup.
Just the Facts, Jack
New music is here from Corb Lund (Cabin Fever – Deluxe Edition) and on its way from Sara Watkins (Under the Pepper Tree – a children’s album, March 26 – Variety), Morgan Wade (Reckless, March 19, and, yes, I should have included this last week – Music Row), and Dallas Moore (The Rain, April 9 – The Boot). Vandoliers also shared that they’re working on something new.
Kris Kristofferson has officially retired. The singer/songwriter/absolute legend actually (and quietly) did last year, but made it official just this past week. His final performance was made last January on the 2020 Outlaw Country Cruise. (The Tennessean)
Loretta Lynn’s My Story In My Words documentary is set to premiere on PBS on Feb. 27. As might be expected, the documentary will feature old and new interviews with Lynn as well as offer a look at the singer’s career spanning more than 50 years, and serves as a precursor to Lynn’s upcoming album, Still Woman Enough, to be released March 19. (Sounds Like Nashville)
The Billboard Music Awards will air live on Sunday, May 23 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on NBC. No further details are available yet. (Sounds Like Nashville)
Luke Bell has released his first new piece of music in over five (!) years, a cover of John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy.” Stay tuned? I hope?
Don’t Quote Me, But Maybe You’ll Enjoy These Bits and Pieces
“I was driving into Nashville and Cam’s ‘Burning House’ was playing on the radio, and I remember thinking to myself how amazing it would be to hear myself on a Nashville radio station … I had no idea how it was going to happen, but that was the goal.” – Tenille Arts, in a fun interview with American Songwriter about why she became a songwriter and how she got to Nashville, in what is a really fun read. I thought Arts’ latest album, Love, Heartbreak & Everything in Between, was solid, and I’m pleasantly surprised at how well “Somebody Like That” is doing at radio. (American Songwriter, by Tricia Despres)
“Daddy used to go down to the courthouse where they had erected a statue of me … I remember myself being so proud of that statue … I thought, ‘A statue of me in the courthouse yard? That’s usually reserved for presidents and people that have done really great things like that.’ So I went home and I said, ‘Daddy did you know, they’re putting a statue of me … down at the courthouse?’ And Daddy said, ‘Well yeah, I heard about that.’ And he said, ‘Now to your fans out there you might be some sort of an idol. But to them pigeons, you ain’t nothing but another outhouse.” – Another fun, lighthearted interview, in which Dolly Parton recalls why and how her father came to clean a statue of her in her hometown every night, told in part through the new Apple Fitness+ Time to Walk experience. A father’s love at its best. (People, by Wendy Naugle)
“There’s still a melancholy to it, but now the heartbreak is the kind of heartbreak that I feel when I have to leave my family and go on the road or go record. The heartbreak is a different kind of heartbreak. The songs are more about my family; either how I miss them when they’re not around or more about how much they’ve changed me and shaped me.” – Lucero lead singer Ben Nichols, on how his songwriting perspective has changed from the earliest days of his career. Expect a review of the band’s newest album, When You Found Me, sometime soon. (American Songwriter, by Catherine Walthall)
Musicians Hall of Fame & Museum sat down with Marty Stuart for a fascinating interview that’s all about Stuart’s journey to Nashville and how he’s coping through the pandemic as a working musician.
“As country music is reestablishing itself on the pop chart, it’s hard to overstate the importance of streaming for country artists. The recent spate of country songs placing in the top 10 of the Year-End Hot 100 Songs suggests that country music’s rising popularity on streaming could cement a bridge between country and pop for years to come.” – Marcus K. Dowling, in a fascinating history and deep-dive of country crossover success of the past and how it relates to the current day. As someone who once wrote about 50 of country music’s biggest crossover hits, of course I liked this. Sidenote: I only started following Dowling’s writing this past week, through Twitter, but he’s been an essential follow so far. (Nashville Scene)
“It can be startlingly easy to get swept up in a storm of online fury … But our society’s growing habit of attempting to quiet culture critics for daring to make contextual observations about musicians, public figures and their art – which is critics’ job, by the way – feels different. It seems more dangerous than the average rando mocking a stranger on the internet for their poor choice of words.” – An excerpt taken from a piece on stan culture and the danger it poses to those looking to speak their truth, for lack of an easier way to summarize it. Truthfully, I don’t agree with every point made, but the paragraphs devoted to Andrea Williams – another fantastic author, for the record – reveal some particularly revealing truths about the culture people don’t like to admit. (Nashville Scene, by Megan Seling)
CBS This Morning interviewed Waylon Payne to discuss his life journey and struggles that led to the making of his 2020 album, Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, which both I and my Country Universe colleagues considered to be one of the best albums of last year. He also performs “All the Trouble,” “Sins of the Father,” and “Dangerous Criminal.”
Anything else? Let me know!