A while back, I had posted on Facebook about stumbling across country artist, Jason James, while listening to a Pitstop for Country favorite, Dustin Sonnier. Just one of the many examples of why I see the value of Spotify, this find came courtesy of “Related Artists” - a tactic I have used to expand my library 10 fold. After taking to Facebook to share Jason James and tagging Sonnier in the process, I was sent a list of artists to check out. Sonnier took a moment to share some of his fellow Louisianian and Texas area friends that are certainly worthy of a share. Well let’s get into it, shall we?
As a fan of Kylie Frey and her exceptional voice, Kristen Foreman is a sure bet for anyone who appreciates a strong female talent. The addictive southern drawl with a hint of smoky flavor is one of my favorites, and Foreman has the ticket here. She released a 2016 album, Feather Tattoo that shows off her ability to keep it fresh and edgy on songs like Band-Aid all while providing heavy doses of traditional country production. It’s pretty believable, especially when she refers to her favorite instrument as being pedal steel. Deciding it was time to head to the city of country music to keep pushing the boundaries of her music career, Kristen now calls Nashville home. Artists like Foreman instill hope that this traditional leaning sound, mixed with elements of Blues, will make a comeback and steer Nashville towards it former glory.
Favorite Track: Whiskey Eyes - I really dig this one and Dustin Sonnier sings harmony on it as an added bonus.
Crank it While I’m Driving: Southern Belle
Jeff Dugan has been on my radar for quite some time after receiving an email from a reader. If you are a fan of 90’s country, fire up some Dugan! Seriously, this is exactly the style of music that would be played alongside George Strait, Alan Jackson, and Garth Brooks. The 90’s are often viewed with such affection because of the honest style of music that so many country artists released. It’s light-hearted at times, heavy on the fiddle and steel guitar, yet has a way of always drawing you in - even decades later. Off Dugan’s 2017 album, Hold On, the defiant yet subtle knock on modern country, Every Steel Guitar Is Crying, recounts the yesteryear of the genre. Modern country music fans don’t understand how much of the genre is missing when a steel guitar is absent from the recording studio. The problem with radio country nowadays is the twisted view it gives listeners in thinking all traditional music needs to be slow and boring. Ever heard Don’t Rock The Jukebox by Alan Jackson? It’s a testament that the traditional sound can be jazzed up and cool. Jeff Dugan is someone that is keeping that traditional style alive, and doing a stand-up job at it too.
Favorite Track: Every Steel Guitar Is Crying
Crank it While I’m Driving: The Fighting Side Of Me
I can’t tell you just how much I have enjoyed the 2017 self titled release of Donice Morace. It pulls enough of the throwback sound and ties it all together so well, that I could see this right along Aaron Watson’s current single, Outta Style, on Top 40 radio. Make no mistake, this is REAL country music, but Morace’s execution leaves something for everyone and fails to isolate fans on either side of the fence. If you keep close tabs on the Texas music scene, you’ll hear similarities to Curtis Grimes and also to Nashville mainstreamer Craig Campbell. Upbeat tempo heartbreak songs like Good Hurt Comin’ On bring the band out to jam and get your boots moving along with the music. And how about that fiddle raging on The Last One… man that is just awesome. Throughout the many listens of this EP, all I could think about how much I miss hearing this style of country on the radio. Back in the early 2000’s, this was the style that Kenny Chesney and the like would put out and it came to end just a few years later when Bro Country took over and Chesney got drunk of Land Shark beer. Country doesn’t have to all be slow and down in the dumps, and Donice Morace is one of the best examples you will find of striking a balance. This guy has really caught my attention and I’ll be watching his career closely.
Favorite Track: The Last One
Crank it While I’m Driving: Good Time Machine
I recall the first time that I heard Jason James was last winter, when 105.3 The Red Dirt Rebel played his song, Hot Mouth Momma. It hit me immediately that he sounded different than so many of the artists I had heard on that station. What you will notice about Jason, is that he is a true throw-back style artist. It sounds like you could have pulled him straight out of the 60s and 70s, and yet his music never feels dated. The Glen Campbell sideburns and the suits all work together to fit his brand of country music. His voice is so powerful and he has this ability of pulling you right into his music, especially once you see it in a performance. I pulled up all sorts of YouTube videos and I could not stop watching the passion that he and the band play/sing with at each show. When it comes to putting an old-time spin on music, it’s easy to make it sound like copy cat music. Some people think that may just involve some digital sound editing or just recording on tape. To do it properly, it’s the whole ensemble. The songs, the look, and the stories. With Jason James, you will have that and then some when you listen to his music. It’s an exceptional experience that few will ever accomplish, yet James has done so, making it look easy.
Favorite Track: Fancy Limousine
Crank it While I’m Driving: Hot Mouth Mama
Just a Massachusetts guy supporting Texas and other independent country/Americana artists.
Check out my spotify for good tunes!