Friday Five: Top June Songs
June has been an incredibly good month for music, with solid releases from LeAnn Rimes, Aoife O’Donovan, John Moreland, Adam Steffey, Slaid Cleaves, Bill Kirchen, and Pokey LaFarge, Mavis Staples, and The Roys, to name just a few. Which songs caught your ear this month?
5. Warren Hood Band – “Alright”
This Austin-based trio–which includes guitarist Willie Pipkin and singer/pianist Emily Gimble (granddaughter of Johnny Gimble)–delivered a delightful self-titled record in early June. Hood, who’s also played with The Waybacks and South Austin Jug Band, is a fiddle virtuoso; he can write a mighty catchy song as well. Just try to keep your toes from tapping along to the album’s opening track.
4. Sturgill Simpson – “Life Ain’t Fair and the World is Mean”
Miss Waylon? Listen to Sturgill. The Sunday Valley frontman’s new solo album, High Top Mountain, is stone cold country, with musicians like Hargus “Pig” Robbins fleshing out Simpson’s sound, which is rooted in ’70s country. It was no easy task to single out just one song from this album, which includes a barnburning take on “Poor Rambler” and several examples of fantastic songwriting (“Hero,” which Simpson wrote about his grandfather, is another personal favorite).
3. Del McCoury Band with Tim O’Brien – “So Long, It’s Been Good to Know Yuh (Dusty Old Dust)”
Del and Tim sound mighty fine trading lyrics from this Dust Bowl ballad, recorded at the Kennedy Center as part of a Woody Guthrie centennial celebration.
2. Bonnie Whitmore – “Too Much Too Soon”
Whitmore There I Go Again is a gem of an alt-country record that’s flown under a lot of radars, but is worth seeking out. She’s made it easy for you, offering the insanely catchy “Too Much Too Soon” as a gateway drug/free download.
1. Jason Isbell – “Elephant”
Isbell’s Southeastern is the frontrunner for Americana Album of the Year, and, considering its strong debut, may also be his breakout record. Recorded after Isbell got sober, the deeply personal record contains his best work to date. “Elephant,” an unflinching look at the relationship between two friends as one battles cancer, is particularly devastating, with the final gut-punch coming as Isbell declares, “There’s one thing that’s real clear to me / No one dies with dignity / We just try to ignore the elephant somehow.”
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