A pair of collabs, from Wynonna Judd and Trisha Yearwood, and a collab between Flatland Cavalry with Kaitlin Butts, lead this week’s batch of new releases. Additionally, country group Sawyer Brown returns with a high-octane new song and new documentary, while Brittney Spencer pays homage to her musical heroes and CCM artist Anne Wilson continues her foray into country music.
Wynonna Judd and Trisha Yearwood, “Cry Myself to Sleep”
Two of country music’s most towering female vocalists—Yearwood and Judd—join forces to push this nearly four-decade-old song to loftier heights. In the mid-1980s, Wynonna and her mother Naomi originally recorded the Paul Kennerley-written song for The Judds’ 1986 album Rockin’ with the Rhythm. But here, sisters in song Wynonna and Yearwood trade angsty phrases, with Yearwood bringing one of her most blues-soaked vocals to date, matching with Wy’s snarling growl. The song will be included on A Tribute to the Judds, out Oct. 27 on BMG in honor of The Judds’ 40th anniversary.
Flatland Cavalry with Kaitlin Butts, “Mornings With You”
Flatland Cavalry’s bandleader and chief songcrafter Cleto Cordero’s wife, ace singer-songwriter Butts, has been a frequent collaborator on the band’s previous albums. Their harmonies purvey a particularly conversational appeal on this warm, easygoing track about briefly leaving the grind of road life behind for contented morning moments with a lover. Cordero wrote the song with Nick Walsh and “The Blade” hitmaker Ashley Monroe.
“Mornings With You” will be included on Flatland Cavalry’s upcoming Oct. 27 album Wandering Star, which will mark the band’s first deal with Interscope.
Brittney Spencer, “Bigger Than the Song”
In 2020, Spencer caught the attention of music lovers with her sterling rendition of The Highwomen’s “Crowded Table.” Since then, she’s release the EP Compassion, performed on the CMA Awards alongside Mickey Guyton and Madeline Edwards, and earned awards nominations from the Americana Music Association and from CMT.
On her latest, Spencer, a cooly assertive-yet-nimble vocalist, offers a thunderbolt of musical recognition for her sheroes on this masterly tuneful track, namechecking a platoon of artists whose music has left an indelible imprint — including Reba McEntire, Alanis Morrisette, Janet Jackson, Britney Spears and Beyonce.
Spencer wrote the song with Jennifer Wayne and Tofer Brown. “Bigger Than the Song” previews Spencer’s upcoming debut album My Stupid Life, which will be released Jan. 19 on Elektra.
Anne Wilson, “Rain in the Rearview”
Though Wilson broke through in Contemporary Christian Music circles with songs like “My Jesus” and “Sunday Sermons,” her Kentucky twang and country-leaning songcraft sensibilities were apparent from her debut album (which featured Lady A’s Hillary Scott on one track). She’s since made her Opry debut, recorded with Josh Turner and performed alongside Jordan Davis during the recent ACM Honors. Now, she aims to expand beyond the CCM genre, fusing the two genres on her three-track project The Beginning, and releasing “Strong” to Christian radio, while releasing “Rain in the Rearview” to country radio.
She wrote “Rain in the Rearview” with Zach Kale, The Cadillac Three’s Jaren Johnston and CCM star Matthew West (also a co-writer on “My Jesus”). She nods to Carrie Underwood’s “Jesus Take the Wheel” on this moody track, as she sings of accelerating through pain and disappointment, her rootsy and soulful voice bolstered by spirals of acoustic guitar, while an acoustic coda showcases Wilson’s ceiling-scraping vocal capabilities — though here, she employs that power judiciously, keeping the focus on the message rather than the messenger.
Sawyer Brown, “Under This Ole Hat”
As the appetite for revivalism for ‘80s and ‘90s country music stays high, Sawyer Brown nods to their own four-decade here, defined by high-octane performances and highly-engaging songs such as “The Dirt Road” and “Some Girls Do,” not only with new documentary Get Me to the Stage, but their latest song “Under This Ole Hat.”
The group proves they’ve still got plenty of swagger on this flat-out rockin’ track that sounds as if it would have nestled in perfectly on the group’s classic early albums. The rhythm charges with precision, and lead singer Mark Miller’s voice still sounds as energetic and charismatic as ever as sings of “40 years of road-dogging,” and ”breaking out of Nashville chasing a sound,” while namechecking Charley Pride, James Brown and the Charlie Daniels Band, and at times nodding melodically to “Some Girls Do.” The song will be included on the group’s Blake Shelton-produced new album, slated for 2024.
Veronique Medrano, MexiAmericana
Brownsville, Texas native Medrano exalts the influence, roots and heritage of Latin music and culture within country music throughout her new album, MexiAmericana, which she crafted in Corpus Christi and San Antonio. Almost a decade ago, Medrano issued her debut album Encantadora, and has garnered several Tejano Music Awards nominations. Medrano’s 11-song album offers a range of styles, deftly melding country, airy pop, Tejano, conjunto and more. She nods to Latin country trailblazers, including Freddy Fender with “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights,” reimagining the song with an accelerated tempo and searing accordion. She offers a bilingual version of the Roy Orbison classic “Crying,” but also the irresistible Tejano dance grooves of “Pam Pam Pam” and the biting rock of “Que Suerte Tienes.” The smooth, plaintive pop of “Get to Heaven” resides alongside the blistering “Que Hueva,” a retort to the recent strike-down of Roe v. Wade. In the process, Medrano has meticulously crafted an essential album in the towering canon of Latino-country projects.
Meghan Patrick, “The Boy Who Cried Drunk” (Demo)
Patrick sends off a warning shot against domestic violence, cataloging a litany of red flags in this dark, gripping song. Here, she’s the wise best friend delving into her own experience and pain, spilling truth about the temporary highs and toxic lows of getting involved with an abuser who blames his ways on alcohol. The track’s polished but never overdone production places the focus on Patrick’s warm yet world-weary vocal, and on this essential message. Patrick wrote “The Boy Who Cried Drunk” with Billy Dawson and Jacob Hackworth.
The Tennessee Bluegrass Band, “Coming Down the Line”
With their 2022 debut album, The Future of the Past, this group of mostly 20-somethings quickly established their penchant and skill for performing — and in the process, helping pass down — traditional-minded bluegrass.
The latest iteration of the band includes newcomers Geary Allen, who wrote “Comin’ Down the Line,” as well as bassist/vocalist Anissa Burnett, who both join founding members Aynsley Porchak, Lincoln Hensley and Tim Laughlin.
This group releases the first look at their upcoming second album with a song that further conveys The Tennessee Bluegrass Band as keen bluegrass practitioners, while expanding the genre’s canon of train songs, with twin fiddles mimicking the sound of a train horn, followed by fleet-fingered picking and syrupy-smooth harmonies.