The sun sets over the ranch, a can of beer cracks, and an acoustic guitar wrangles the day’s thoughts and memories into a semblance of order. During moments like these, California-born and Nashville-based singer and songwriter Emily Nenni chronicles her life through delicate songcraft rife with honky-tonk spirit and spiked with just the right amount of soul. In possession of a deep understanding of music stoked by a lifelong passion and sharp chops shaped by endless sets in smoky bars and sizzling doublewides, she asserts herself as the consummate country storyteller on her full-length debut album, On The Ranch[Normaltown/New West Records]. “What I love about country is the songs can be very honest and vulnerable, yet they’re beautiful enough to make you cry,” she notes. “My music is sweet and sad, but I don’t take myself too seriously. It’s old school honky-tonk with a slightly different flavor.” Her story represents the difference. Growing up in the Bay Area “in a family of music nerds,” her father worked in radio, and she even attended her first Bruce Springsteen show in utero. Mom and dad took her to countless concerts as a kid and regaled her with endless tales of music lore. Emily’s mother introduced her to the likes of Patsy Cline, Willie Nelson, Jessi Colter, and Hank Williams, while her father spun James Brown and John Coltrane. Following high school, she attended Columbia College with a major in audio engineering. After a year, she dropped out and saved up enough money to move to Nashville — despite not knowing a soul in the city. In order to break into the iconic Robert’s Western World on Broadway, she baked cookies for the bouncers and house band, finding herself on stage not long after. Simultaneously, she sharpened her skills at Santa’s Pub, often playing all night and building a buzz in the process. “I moved to Nashville, because it felt homey to me,” she says. “Once I got there, it was a big country music education.” Eventually, she linked up with producer and frequent collaborator Mike Eli. Together, they cut her independent debut LP, Hell of a Woman, in 2017. Next up, she joined forces with Teddy and The Rough Riders for the I Owe You Nothin’ EP before serving up 2020’s Long Game EP. The latter’s title track cracked over 1 million streams as she caught the attention of Normaltown & New West and signed to the label. Plus, she earned critical acclaim from the likes of Glide Magazine who proclaimed, “Nenni possesses a unique and deeply charismatic vocal charm.” Around the same time, she ventured to Colorado for a job at a ranch. “Mike’s wife worked there,” she goes on. “She’s a legitimate cowgirl. The owner needed an extra hand, so I served meals, took care of her kid, and played for guests once a week. I’m definitely not a real cowgirl though. Outside of my jobs, I played with the dogs, wrote most of the record, and, mostly, drank beer,” she laughs. She recorded On The Ranch with Eli and Alex Lyon. Fittingly, Emily introduces the album with the title track and first single “On The Ranch.” The beat simmers beneath slick dobro and a rollicking lead riff. Her bright verses give way to an unshakable rhyming refrain, “Out on the ranch to avoid my troubles, looks like I’ve got double.” “The ranch was beautiful,” she says. “It was located right on the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Sonically, the song has an eighties honky-tonk feel, which I love.” Then, there’s “In the Mornin.'” Guitar creaks as her voice rings out with a promise, “When the sun comes up, I’m hitting the road.” “You can stay at my house, but in the morning, you’ve got to get out of here,” she elaborates. “I wrote it from a female perspective where it’s a woman saying this instead of the man.”
Based out of Asheboro, NC, Corey Hunt and Eric Wise have spent the last decade traveling the country and playing for anyone who would listen. Formed in 2010 at a local bar called Dirty T’s, they are still pounding the pavement looking to leave their mark.
Justin Wells first came to national attention with cult favorite Southern rock band Fifth on the Floor, which released a pair of well-received independent records before teaming up with Shooter Jennings on their breakout third album, 2013’s Ashes & Angels. The record debuted on the Billboard Country charts, earned critical raves, and helped land the band dates with the likes of Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell, and Blackberry Smoke. The album would prove to be the band’s last, however. With the rug suddenly pulled out from under him, Wells decided to write his way through the disappointment, emerging stronger and more creatively invigorated on the other side with his solo debut, Dawn in the Distance. The record (and its subsequent touring) prompted the best reviews of Wells’ career, with Rolling Stone hailing his “gift for melody” and Saving Country Music praising his “stunning insight and honesty.” With his extraordinary second album, The United State, Kentucky’s Justin Wells explored our innate humanity and everything that comes with it: the joy, the sorrow, the ecstasy, the pain, the hope, the fear. Recorded with acclaimed producer Duane Lundy (Ringo Starr, Sturgill Simpson’s Sunday Valley, Joe Pug), the collection starts in the womb and works its way methodically to the afterlife, transcending politics and race and religion to tap into something far deeper, something infinitely more primal and timeless. While thematically speaking to commonalities in people’s lives, The United State underlines Wells’ commitment to carving his own path, tradition and genre be damned. w/ Will Overman:Will Overman’s music can be best described as a combination of Rock, Country, and Americana, but it’s not your typical Country-Americana sound. Sonically it is restless by nature, always searching for something new, and with Will’s heart-worn lyrics and dynamic vocal delivery, it makes for a memorable mixture that is hard to place but easy to love.
Virginia natives Crawford & Power are making waves within the country music scene with their unique sound. Authentically southern, Jake Crawford’s powerful vocal blended with a modern approach to the Dobro from Ethan Power, create a brand of country that has been lauded as a breath of fresh air to the genre.The duo have already opened for a variety of artists including The Marshall Tucker Band, Willie Nelson, Travis Tritt, The Charlie Daniels Band, Luke Combs, Cody Johnson, 38 Special, Gary Allan, and Jerry Douglas, among many other major acts.With the help of their debut EP, “Play a Hank Jr. Song,” the duo have quickly eclipsed over 5 million on-demand streams. C&P followed up their debut release with many single releases between 2019-2021 highlighted by “She Liked to Get High” & “Letting You Go.” Crawford & Power are spending time in the studio with Producer Grady Saxman, and just released their new EP, “Bring it On Home,” on September 30th. With new music in store for fans in 2023 and beyond, these guys are just
Southern Rock with an Outlaw Country attitude. A safe haven for rowdy behavior.
On her new album No Regular Dog, singer/songwriter/guitarist Kelsey Waldon shares a gritty and glorious portrait of living in devotion to your deepest dreams: the brutal self-doubt and unending sacrifice, hard-won wisdom and sudden moments of unimaginable transcendence. Revealing her supreme gift for spinning harsh truths into songs that soothe and brighten the soul, the Kentucky-bred artist ultimately makes an unassailable case for boldly following your heart—a sentiment perfectly encapsulated in No Regular Dog’s raw and radiant title track. No Regular Dog is country to the bone, a songwriter’s album in the tradition of Lucinda Williams, Emmylou Harris, and Waldon’s fellow Kentuckians Loretta Lynn and John Prine—writers steeped in place and emotion, whose songs are so well woven, and feel so natural, that the hard work of writing them is camouflaged.
Lisa Dames and Shawn Patch formed High Cotton out of their love for old school country music. Playing mostly as an acoustic duo, they perform country music from before country was cool. Rounding out the band are Mike Chiusano on drums and Jeff Mitchell on bass. Paying homage to artists like Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, Lynn Anderson, Buck Owens, and Gerry Reed… if you were a fan of Hee Haw, you’ll be a fan of High Cotton. In November of 1961 Patsy Cline made her first and only appearance at Carnegie Hall in New York City. She remarked to the Grand Ole Opry band that they were in “High Cotton” now.
Sunny Sweeney, a genre-bending, songwriting spitfire who has spent equal time in the rich musical traditions of Texas and Tennessee, returns with Married Alone, the celebrated singer-songwriter’s fifth studio album and the follow-up to 2017’s critically acclaimedTrophy. Co-produced by beloved Texas musician and larger-than-life personality Paul Cauthen and the Texas Gentlemen’s multi-hyphenate Beau Bedford, Married Alone is Sweeney’s finest work yet, bringing together confessional songwriting, image-rich narratives and no shortage of sonic surprises for a loosely conceptual album about loss and healing.
Karly Driftwood: “Once in a while a record will come along and make the listener pay attention, whether it be by the songwriting, the playing, or by sheer force. On Karly Driftwood’s debut record, Too Mean to Die the Virginia-born singer-songwriter eschews country music stat quo and instead leans on the dark themes of life. Too Mean to Die is a country record that’s scarred, jagged like shards of a broken beer bottle but also sugary sweet – if your idea of puff pastry is laced with arsenic. The songs are just as much influenced by the Misfits or Danzig as they are Johnny Cash or Dolly Parton; to put a finer point on it, Karly Driftwood is a potent mixture of equal parts Sylvia Plath and The Drive-By Truckers. Even her stage name, “Driftwood” is a nod to Otis Driftwood from Rob Zombie’s The Devil’s Rejects.” – Farce The MusicMackenzie Roark: There are shades of blue that don’t wash away and those hues are perfectly captured in the songs of Richmond’s own Mackenzie Roark. Exploring the tragically beautiful narratives littered across the honky tonk heartbreaks of the South, her songs lull heartache through brutal yet honest truths. With her sound firmly planted in the distant past of country and folk music, Mackenzie Roark brings those antiqued tones to new life in her forthcoming debut full length album, “Rollin High, Feelin Low.”Carri Smithey: The debut album by The Carri Smithey Band – Midnight Ride, plays as a veteran effort; 11 songs steeped in classic country and finished with the accouterments of rock and roll. Recorded and mixed by Dynamic Soundworks in Wilmington, NC, the album portrays a rich modern vibe while still living in a world of rustic sensibility.