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. Click on the hyperlinks provided at the end of each blurb to find out more.
On the Horizon
New album releases:
- Fretland – Could Have Loved You
- Carrie Underwood – My Savior
- Miko Marks – Our Country
- John Smith – The Fray
- Sara Watkins – Under the Pepper Tree
- Esther Rose – How Many Times
- The Allman Bros. – Down in Texas ’71 (live)
- Sunny War – Simple Syrup
- Emily Moment – The Party’s Over
- Jackson Scribner – Jackson Scribner
- Chevel Shepherd – Everybody’s Got a Story
- The Armadillo Paradox – Out of Gas in Oil Country
- The Imaginaries – Revival
- David Olney & Alana Keye – Whispers & Sighs
- Dillon Warnick – Now That It’s All Over
- Sturgill Simpson – Cuttin’ Grass – Vol. 2: The Cowboy Arms Sessions (vinyl)
- Cristina Vane – Nowhere Sounds Lovely
- Johnny Cash & Various Artists – Johnny Cash: Forever Words Expanded
- Ottoman Turks – Turks II
- Canaan Smith – High Country Sound
Impacting country radio:
- Callista Clark, “It’s Cause I Am”
- Travis Denning, “ABBY”
I have a few albums in my backlog I could possibly review, but to be honest, I’m not itching to cover much right now. It’s been an utterly (but understandably) slow year for new releases. I do have something fun planned for this week, though!
Just the Facts, Jack
In the you’ve-already-heard-about-this-but-might-as-well-mention-it-anyway category, Post Malone covered Sturgill Simpson’s “You Can Have the Crown” and Brad Paisley’s “I’m Gonna Miss Her (the Fishin’ Song)” featuring accompaniment from Dwight Yoakam’s band for Matthew McConaughey’s Texas benefit virtual show. Yeah. Also of note: George Strait sang “Troubadour,” Miranda Lambert sang “Heart Like Mine,” and Kacey Musgraves covered Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again.”
Kenny Chesney has postponed his 2021 Chillaxification Tour to 2022, due to the continuous spread of COVID-19. I repeat, we’re not out of the woods yet, folks. On a similar note, Chesney has announced a deluxe release for his 2020 album Here and Now, set for for release on May 7. (Taste of Country)
In other new music news: Justin Moore has announced a new album/EP, Straight Outta the Country, set for release on April 23 – and yes, I just cringed as hard as you did at that title (Shore Fire). Chase Bryant will release his debut album, Upbringing, on July 16 (Sounds Like Nashville), and The Oak Ridge Boys will release Front Porch Singing on June 11.
The Newport Folk Festival is releasing a live John Prine album, featuring his performance at the festival in 2017. The collection, titled John Prine and Friends, will feature special guests like Margo Price, Nathaniel Rateliff, and Lucius, and proceeds from the sale will support the Newport Festival Foundation’s ongoing initiatives to aid musicians in need. More information on the release is provided in the attached hyperlink. (Music Row)
A new Marty Stuart project is on the way, albeit not in typical fashion. Released in a series of 20 separate song releases, the ultimate collection will come to be known as Songs I Sing in the Dark, recorded acoustically and in Stuart’s former home in Nashville. Its first single, “Ready for the Times to Get Better,” was originally recorded by Crystal Gayle, who took the song to No. 1 in 1978. The eventual collection will feature original songs, covers, and forgotten oddities.
Mickey Guyton will finally release her debut album sometime this summer, and it could very well be a double album. About time, Capitol Nashville. (Taste of Country)
“Once a Day,” penned by Bill Anderson and recorded by Connie Smith, has been inducted into the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress. For those who don’t know, “Once a Day” was Smith’s biggest hit and became her signature song in 1965. (Music Row)
Consequence of Sound has an exclusive look at Sturgill Simpson’s Sound & Fury graphic novel , which will come via Z2 Comics and chronicles prequel stories set before the Sound & Fury anime. Fans can order the novel here, though COS offers a preview, too, for those interested.
As a follow-up to a previous edition of this feature, the Country Music Hall of Fame is now featuring a video for its American Currents: State of the Music exhibit, featuring musicians such as Luke Combs, Rissi Palmer, Billy Strings and more. (The Country Music Hall of Fame)
In sad news, “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song” singer B.J. Thomas has been diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. For those interested, I wrote about Thomas and that aforementioned hit as part of my Pop Goes the Country series. Here’s to hoping for a full recovery. (USA Today)
Also in sad news, JT Gray, owner of the Station Inn, has died at age 75. As most country music fans know, Gray was an accomplished musician himself, and the Station Inn is a venue for acoustic and bluegrass music lovers. (Music Row)
Also, former CMA Board President and industry veteran Connie Bradley passed away this past Wednesday. Though known primarily for her work behind the scenes, she was a mentor to some of country music’s greatest songwriters and artists – George Strait, Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire, Brad Paisley, and Dierks Bentley, as just a few examples among so many others. (Billboard)
“‘I had been rejected all over town, and I was sitting in my truck listening to Kris Kristofferson’s The Austin Sessions,’ he [Eric Church] remembers. ‘I called my brother to come downtown and get drunk with me.’ The next day, bleary-eyed and hung over, he got a call from the independent music publisher Arturo Buenahora Jr. to come in and sing. Buenahora signed him after hearing one song, ‘Lightning.’ He and Church have been partners ever since.” – An excerpt taken from a thorough, excellent read on Eric Church’s career from Garden & Gun magazine. It gets a little “lifestyle piece”-ish at points, as these pieces do, but delivers a great biography on Church and insights into the making of his upcoming triple album release. (Garden & Gun, by Matt Hendrickson)
“We get there … I see one orange lit Miller Lite neon sign – everything else is boarded from the inside. The door doesn’t have a handle, it just says ‘knock’ on a piece of duct tape on the door. So I knocked and a very nice gentleman named Dwayne opened the door and asked me, ‘Are you the entertainment?’ So, I go in. These are very, very nice people but I quickly realize what I’ve walked into … I start loading my stuff to the stage, and the stage is covered in like, boot carpet and right past the DJ booth there is a barber’s chair leaned back and I thought, ‘That’s strange.’ Not nearly as strange as the mirrors on the back wall of the stage or the pole in the center. I have accidentally booked myself at … an illegal exotic dance area!” – Ashley McBryde, in her story on the craziest “music venue” she ever booked. Not bad for a girl going nowhere … I guess? (Sounds Like Nashville, by Chris Parton)
“However, within that same group of songs, the Carter Family recorded a classic Black Pentecostal church hymn, ‘Will the Circle Be Unbroken?’ Rewritten and re-arranged as ‘Can the Circle Be Unbroken,’ it is often referred to as the one song that elementally signifies country music’s root emergence. Equal parts gospel, bluegrass, and folk, it’s Maybelle’s Carter Scratch technique that stands out, underpinning the laconic yet soulful and easily digestible lyrical phrasing with a four-on-the-floor rhythm that hooks the listener.” – Marcus K. Dowling, in another excellent piece on women in country music, this one acting as a deep-dive into Maybelle Carter’s role in the Carter Family’s rise in country music. I’ve shared past pieces he’s written on Dolly Parton and Patsy Cline in previous editions of this feature, so check them out if you haven’t yet. (CMT)
“‘Obviously I got a chip on either shoulder, and I guess you can get like that coming at the music business the way that I have,’ he [Charley Crockett] says. ‘I’ve been called a lot of things, like, ‘Relying on gimmicks’ or ‘Street performer who’s just willing to pick up any style to get the money.’ But on the other side of the coin, especially being associated with Nashville and a lot of the current independent country movement or whatever that is, everybody in the conversations that I’m associated with, it’s all pure singer-songwriter alt-country Nashville. And to be honest with you, I feel like that’s just one of my many faces. I don’t mean this to come off wrong: I can do what they do, but they can’t do what I do. And the only thing they’re ever looking at me for are the things they compare me to because of what they do.” – Charley Crockett, on his rise as a unique, throwback fashion in country music, and how that’s just fine with him. Crockett, who recently released a tribute to musical icon James Hand, reveals he’s got another new album on the way this year, which will feature a cover of Henson Cargill’s 1967 hit “Skip a Rope,” and be ‘60s-influenced in general. (Rolling Stone, by Jonathan Bernstein)
Lastly, Grady Smith dropped another great video this week, this one on Canadian country music. Featuring Canadian country artist Ryan Lindsay, both personalities seek to discuss the history and current players behind the music. Also, I like Lady Eh better than the current Lady A – just sayin’.