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Our Favorite Songs from the Blue Ridge and Beyond

lucy dacus

If you’re in search of fresh sounds, let your ears wander through Trail Mix, our monthly playlist of new music, mainly focusing on independent artists from the South.

In August we’re highlighting new tunes from Pokey LaFarge and Lucy Dacus, plus a collaboration between Billy Strings and Del McCoury, two bluegrass heroes from different generations. 

Lucy Dacus
“Hot & Heavy”

The Richmond-based indie singer-songwriter just released “Home,” her latest batch of deeply personal songs that unravel like memoir vignettes. The album opens with “Hot & Heavy,” an airy rock tune full of vivid recollections about a youthful romance and the lasting impression it left behind. Dacus is getting set to support the new record with a huge tour, which includes dates in the region supporting Bright Eyes (August 3 at the Ting Pavillion in Charlottesville, Va., and August 5 at Rabbit Rabbit in Asheville, N.C.) —J.F. 

Pokey LaFarge
“Get It ‘Fore It’s Gone”

Following the darker mood of his 2020 album “Rock Bottom Rhapsody,” roots revivalist Pokey LaFarge showcases a lighter sound and a little optimism on the lead single from his forthcoming LP “In the Blossom of Their Shade.” With a breezy, vintage reggae vibe, “Get It ‘Fore It’s Gone” has a jaunty rhythm and message about making the most of the present moment—just right for soaking in the remnants of summer. —J.F. 

Billy Strings and Del McCoury
“Midnight on the Stormy Deep”

Billy Strings is taking bluegrass to new heights, selling out arenas with a wildly exploratory string band sound that mixes nimble picking with psychedelic jams. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t respect the genre’s roots. His latest single is a take on the centuries-old traditional “Midnight on the Stormy Deep,” sung as a duet with longstanding hero Del McCoury. The lonesome ballad, about a soldier missing his true love while off at war, sways with the rustic tones of mandolin and acoustic guitar and recalls the jointly delivered version by late bluegrass greats Bill Monroe and Doc Watson. —J.F. 

Maggie Rose
“For Your Consideration”

Hell hath no fury like Maggie Rose scorned. On “For Your Consideration,” Rose sharpens her tongue for an unappreciative lover, delivering her indignation in a soulful, reverb-drenched ballad that pulls no punches. Despite the ire raised by her antagonist, Rose still offers an olive branch, encouraging both sides to engage and communicate, signaling that there is hope for the relationship and offering solid advice for all lovers that carving out space and understanding for each other is paramount. —D.S

Bryan Rahija
“Silent Advance”

A founding member of North Carolina alt-folk group Bombadil, Bryan Rahija has returned with his first solo record, a twelve song collection of instrumental guitar songs. Inspired by a move to the Pacific Northwest and impending fatherhood, Rahija drew on inspiration from Spanish guitar masters, as evidenced by the intricacies and depth on “Silent Advance.” Bold and contemplative, Rahija’s broad, open strumming is layered with deft picking, leveling a deep sense of peace on his listeners. —D.S

Andy Falco
“Stones Unturned”

Prior to joining The Infamous Stringdusters, guitarist Andy Falco made the musical rounds throughout his native Long Island. Off the road and pinned down during the pandemic, Falco returned home and recorded his first solo album in fifteen years. “Stones Unturned” has a decidedly Garcia and Hunter feel, with Falco’s guitar bounding over a backdrop of spacious organ, all the while reminding us that, while the road of life may be rocky, the obstacles along the way should be seized upon and relished. —D.S

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
“Sad But True”

Isbell and company give Metallica’s “Sad But True” some Hill Country blues treatment, reworking it with a stomping rhythm and abundant slide guitar. The track comes from the upcoming compilation “The Metallica Blacklist Album,” which features a whopping 53 artists reinterpreting songs from the metal heroes’ landmark LP “The Black Album,” which was released 30 years ago. The sprawling effort, out September 10, will also include contributions from Miley Cyrus, St. Vincent, and My Morning Jacket. —J.F. 

Adrian + Meredith
“Bad For Business”

Driven by a staccato drum beat and gypsy fiddle, Adrian + Meredith lampoon the modern whack-a-mole approach to political and cultural correctness on the title track from their new record. Everything, it seems, has the potential to be bad for business, depending on who you ask or have the unfortunate chance to offend. Captured within the rawness of this song is an encouraging call to us all: stay true to your art, pay little mind to the naysayers, and business will shake itself out in the end. —D.S  

To hear these songs and more, follow the Blue Ridge Outdoors’ Trail Mix playlist on Spotify.

Cover photo: Lucy Dacus released her new album, “Home,” earlier this summer. Photo by Ebru Yildiz

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