Zach Bryan, the Red Clay Strays, & More – Single Round-Up

Louie Nice

Wanna Be Loved – The Red Clay Strays Written By Adam Delahoussaye

It’s about time that the first inklings of this new era from The Red Clay Strays was unearthed from concert videos and onto streaming. Maybe one of last year’s biggest acts in the genre, the group hasn’t released a studio effort since their 2022 debut record, “Moment Of Truth.” Now, the moment fans have been pining for is finally here, the fivesome seemingly seeking reassurance that their fans are in this for the long haul. Under guidance of the legendary Dave Cobb, the Strays here veer into more controlled waters that still hone in the bluesy blend of Southern trends both past and present they’ve pioneered thus far. Brandon Coleman and his slicked back pompadour appear to find more control in this new lane, separating it further and further from the doo-wop adjacent moments peppered throughout the groups first record and engulfing listeners in a holistically new look for the Strays. With a new record imminent, there’s only more hope for country’s oldest sounding newbies to toy with the sonic boundaries that they’ve been itching to push. As reserved as “Wanna Be Loved” appears, its good guidance into what’s sure to be a continuation of an already illustrious career. 


Fast Asleep – 49 Winchester Written By Adam Delahoussaye

As the group inches closer to their upcoming album release and further from their redneck roots, it’s almost appalling how varied our two exposures to this “new normal” for 49 Winchester have felt. Their first single, “Yearnin’ For You,” know the roads it wandered and gave the sense that absence and adoration were siblings. Here, on “Fast Asleep,” that sense feels crippled by weights both sonic and sentimental in nature. Accompanied by the Czech National Symphony Orchestra, this newest track knows the understated feelings of loneliness, contrasted with the combusting bravado that comes as a triumphant feeling of being reunited, and still united. A staple of early shows from the group, it’s one that their now full sound seems to have perfected on the first try. Though, their cult following will tell you that just like their journey thus far, progress is far from an overnight process. As Isaac Gibson and the boys continue to bring in ear-perking melodies and crushing choruses with every new release, anticipation for what’s to come only mounts even further. 


Pink Skies – Zach Bryan Written By Creed Miller

Zach Bryan released his first song since September of 2023 which feels like an eternity by his standards. The “drought” finally came to an end as Bryan released “Pink Skies” which is the first track from his upcoming album. Much like his self-titled album, the song is written and produced entirely by Bryan. He is no stranger to tear-jerkers and this one is no exception. It’s about friends and family gathering at a funeral, sharing memories, and looking ahead to the future. This is even more evidence of Bryan’s remarkable ability to attack the subject of grief. It leads to a lot of self-reflection for the listener as it is very easy to resonate with. One of the big highlights is there is clear improvement production-wise from his self-titled album. It is evident Bryan has become more experienced as the production stood out. The inclusion of the harmonica and banjo harkens back to his American Heartbreak days all while still blending in his recent sound as well. Zach Bryan has been busy in the studio and if “Pink Skies” is any indicator of what’s to come, his fans are in for a treat. 


21 Guns – Jamey Johnson Written By Will Chapman

Just in time for Memorial Day, Jamey Johnson’s newest song “21 Guns” is a profound and moving tribute that showcases his exceptional talent and deep emotional resonance. Johnson’s signature whining, baritone voice beautifully conveys the song’s powerful message, drawing listeners into a genuine, heartfelt narrative honoring those who have sacrificed their lives for their country without it coming across as a nationalist money grab. Johnson has always been an excellent storyteller, and that is evident in “21 Guns.” The lyrical depth, paired with the hauntingly beautiful melody and a punching hook that stops the listener in their tracks, creates an unforgettable listening experience that resonates long after the song ends. “21 Guns” is a testament to Johnson’s ability to blend traditional country elements with poignant storytelling, making it a standout track that is both timeless and relevant.


Beach Chair – Uncle Kracker Written By Max Buondonno

As another entry into a sporadic stream of singles, Uncle Kracker has delivered a song perfectly appropriate for blasting at the pool this summer. “Beach Chair,” written by Greg Schleicher, Joe Benke, and Matthew Shafer, offers a lightweight, practically-pop production that’s easy enough to dance along to. But its lyrics are completely lacking of anything remotely original, leaving this summer anthem void of something to help it stand out. How many times have you heard of someone searching for a cold beer with their name on it, girls in bikinis, a beach chair somewhere on a sunny beach? It’s a safe bargain to assume about a million times from every bro-country artist to Jimmy Buffet and all the beach cowboys of the industry. Granted, Uncle Kracker has nothing to prove, and he seems completely unconcerned with how well any of his new music performs. He’s on a stadium tour with Kenny Chesney, after all. “When the Sun Goes Down” is all he needs to survive for the rest of his life. But if you were hoping that you might hear something cool, different, or remotely interesting by pressing play on this track, you’re out of luck.


Old Fashioned Feeling – Midland Written By Ryan Lippe 

With the crying of the steel guitar front and center throughout, the song is a very smooth listen. Combined with the vocals of Mark Wystrach the production is once again a blend of the neo-traditional sound they’re known for and classic western roots. Produced by Dave Cobb, this latest single for Midland feels to blend the most types of sounds but still developing their identity as they grow as a group. If it wasn’t for Midland’s stellar delivery, any reference to alcohol as obvious as the title would be tossed away immediately but the tone provided by the trio makes it easily forgivable. Aside from the chorus, the verses don’t provide much of a story that numerous of their prior songs do leaving the listener wanting a bit more. Nonetheless it’s an easy tune of misery and recollection over a failed romance. This track feels like a solid start ahead of whatever project is in their future; Dave Cobb brings a fresh production that’s more invested into the western sound and hopefully more narrative driven songs.


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