Our Favorite New Music from the Blue Ridge and Beyond
Every month our Editors curate a playlist of new music, mainly focusing on independent artists from the South. In February we’re highlighting new tunes from Vulfpeck, City and Colour, and Myron Elkins.
Davisson Brothers Band
The Davisson Brothers Band are a grassroots institution in West Virginia, and the hard-touring country-rock band’s new single, “Mountain High,” pays tribute to the natural beauty and downhome traditions of their home state. With a stomping beat, winding fiddle runs, and a singalong, campfire-ready chorus, the song celebrates the simplicity of rural life in the mountains as brothers Chris and Donnie Davisson harmonize with husky bravado. The standalone single was produced by Americana heavyweights Brent Cobb and David Ferguson. – J.F.
“All That’s Left of Me Is You”
Jam-funk technicians Vulfpeck channel some British influences in this bouncy slice of vintage rock that features some surreal lyrics about the leftover impressions of a long-term relationship. Theo Katzman is in full McCartney mode as he sings the tune’s extremely hooky chorus, but he also throws in a nod and a wink to Radiohead’s “Karma Police” on his Wurlitzer. The track comes from the band’s new album, “Schvitz,” which will be released later this year. – J.F.
“Sunday Morning Blues”
Channing Wilson has penned tunes for a wide array of artists; Luke Combs took “She Got The Best Of Me” to the top of the charts, while the Oak Ridge Boys, Robert Randolph & the Family Band, and Travis Tritt, among others, have recorded his songs. “Sunday Morning Blues,” just the second song that Wilson has released on his own, is pure vintage country, reminiscent of Don Williams and a young Willie Nelson. This whiskey-soaked tearjerker proves that Wilson’s songs are best heard through nobody’s voice but his. – D.S.
City and Colour
“Meant to Be”
Tragedy is at the heart of “Meant to Be,” the new single from Canadian singer-songwriter Dallas Green, who performs as City and Colour. In 2019, Green’s best friend and musical collaborator Karl Bareham drowned in Australia while the band was on tour. Green had to identify his friend’s body at the morgue, and he addresses the grief and trauma that came with the experience in the atmospheric ballad that searches for answers in the face of life taking unbearable turns. In the powerful track, Green doesn’t find easy acceptance, instead admitting, “I don’t believe this is how it’s meant to be.” – J.F
Frances Luke Accord
In “Saint Mary,” Nicholas Gunty, guitarist and singer for Frances Luke Accord, breathlessly takes the listener through every aspect of the bicycle accident that nearly claimed his life. Visceral are the moments of the accident, Gunty’s awakening somewhere unrecognizable, and his floating somewhere between the now and the hereafter. Delivered over an ethereal combination of strings and percussion, the recounting of his struggle culminates with the bold realization of how precious life is and how it shouldn’t be taken for granted. – D.S.
“Wrong Side of The River”
Myron Elkins doesn’t sing like a man barely old enough to buy the whiskey being slung at the bars and juke joints where he belts out his gritty Americana ballads. Just 21 years old, Elkins was preparing for a life as a welder before a battle of the bands contest sparked a career change, a meeting with noted producer Dave Cobb, and the release of his debut record last month. “Wrong Side Of The River” is emblematic of Elkins and his music; down home and honest, crafted by hands, and a character, emboldened by a hard day’s work. – D.S.
“Heaven is a Place”
After a year of heavy touring with the Black Keys, Dan Auerbach has shifted his focus to the Arcs, his soul-rock project with the late musician/producer Richard Swift. Much of the newly released album “Electrophonic Chronic,” the group’s first album in eight years, was recorded before Swift passed away in 2018, but the gritty, dream-like R&B of “Heaven is a Place” is a poignant sendoff to lost loved ones. “This new record is all about honoring Swift,” Auerbach stated. “It’s a way for us to say goodbye to him.” – J.F
Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley
“Living in A Song”
Few acoustic duos boast the pedigree of Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley. Ickes was a founding member of the iconic bluegrass group Blue Highway, and Hensley made his Grand Ole Opry debut at the age of 11. As a duo, the two have garnered acclaim from both the Grammys and IBMA. Though rooted in bluegrass, the musicians go country with “Living In A Song,” the title track from their latest record. Be it bluegrass, country blues, or straight country, Ickes’s dobro wizardry and Hensley’s stout country tenor always impress. – D.S.
Cover Photo: The Arcs honor late bandmate Richard Swift with the new album “Electrophonic Chronic.” Photo courtesy of Easy Eye Sound