Since the deterioration of the music industry in the 90s and the purging of true talent, country music seems to have fallen off a cliff and sadly many Southerners have gone right with it. Instead of music about heartbreaks like we had with George Jones or just the music that came with such artists as David Allan Coe and Merle Haggard, we get annoying, patronizing reconstructed music like that that comes with Luke Bryan. It sounds country but the lyrics are unintelligent, gurgled-up nonsense that puts the South in a bad light.
However, the light of country music has not gone away completely and for those of you that still are looking for new artists, this article is for you.
First in our list is Sturgill Simpson, a Kentucky Colonel, having his album, Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, complimented as one of the best country albums of all time by Kentucky Rep. James Kay. Simpson’s style isn’t your typical country, incorporating various brass instruments into his songs, but it is still noticeably country. To add to his uniqueness, his albums flow together as a piece of non-stop music, like one big song, similar to some of Pink Floyd’s albums. It’s not just his style that stands out however, so do the lyrics.
Simpson’s third album, A Sailor’s Guide to Earth , revolves around a sailor’s life advice to his son, telling him the joys of having a child, details about a sailor’s life, and the bond between father and son. With saxophone solos and rapid shifts in beat, the album certainly stands out from other country albums and definately deserves a listen.
Suggested songs: Long White Line, Breakers Roar, Call To Arms
From the Southwest we have Ryan Bingham. Bingham is a hispanic, but one at least heavily influenced by Southern culture, which you must understand if you wish to understand his lyrics as well as one song in particular, sung partly in Spanish (Boracho Station).
I do have reservations about a few of his songs in the album, Tomorrowland, simply because they are vulgar and not my taste, as well as the song, Dylan’s Hard Rain, for its lines about immigration and religion. Apart from that however, his sound is great and the lyrics are written well and are thoughtful in most of his songs, no “tractor, tractor.”
Suggested songs: For What It’s Worth, Bread and Water, Long Way From Georgia
For our third artist I have picked Cody Jinks. Jinks has an interesting history, beginning his career in a thrash metal band but ending up as a country artist. From Texas, his music is more country than the other picks. Most of his songs are slow country ones, though he does have more upbeat songs like Chase That Song. His music isn’t too unique, though all artists worth their cent have a somewhat unique sound; Jinks is unique in that he has talent and doesn’t use it to rehash the same theme over and over about tractors and daisy dukes. He puts more effort and meaning into his songs than that.
Suggested songs: 65 Days in LA, Last Call for the Blues, Dirt
Last but not least we have Johnny Cash — I mean Colter Wall. A relatively new artist from Saskatchewan, Canada, interestingly enough. Since Alberta and Saskatchewan are like Canada’s Texas, country and bluegrass music has spread there, and Southern culture has become exotic for lack of a better term.
Colter’s music is slower paced than the other artists in this article, usually telling a story instead of pouring out the artist’s feelings. It’s a rare form of music that we don’t see much anymore but Colter definately pulls it off. His music closely resembles that of Johnny Cash’s and the older country artists. It also has quite a bit of Southern culture mixed into it. For example, the song, Johnny Boy’s Bones, starts off with a slow rendition of Dixie. For any Southerner looking for good modern country, I highly suggest Colter Wall as one of the first places to look.
Suggested songs: Ballad of a Law Abiding Sophisticate, Johnny Boy’s Bones, Motorcycle