by John Lindsay –
Here it is the soundtrack of the Summer you likely haven’t heard on the radio. While the world quarantined in early 2020, the writing and recording continued. So here are a few of the noteworthy new releases flying under the radar in this Summer of 2020!
It’s the hottest debate of the summer, Mask or No Mask. Amidst the debates comes the new single from Craig Morgan “The Mask.” Corona Virus or not the truth is we all wear a Mask. Putting on the brave face, the happy face, the strong façade… The “Mask” if you will is a daily reality for many struggling with the everyday heartbreaks, and uncomfortable situations faced by some. Everyone from the introvert, those suffering from loss, depression, and the challenges life can present will try and Mask them from the outside world. Craig sings heartfelt lyrics of the moments he can let down the guard, drop the mask and let go and raise his issues up to God. A staunch Christian, Craig Morgan has once again released a song focused on faith, inspiration, and hope. His recovery from personal tragedy is based on his faith and his willingness to share that recovery with the world is inspiring, after all at some point we all need to find a space to drop our “Mask” and give it up to the higher powers. A single sure to hit your “Feels” button “The Mask” is another welcome back for Craig Morgan, and we are better for having him back.
www.craigmorgan.com, IG – @cmorganmusic, FB – Craig Morgan
Maryland’s own Mark Bray has returned with what is likely his best effort to date. “I Learned That From You,” is a timeless song of looking back and finding lessons in heartbreak. There is that one relationship in every life that you wish you could go back and fix. The one that every future relationship is measured against, where every issue is related back to that one unforgettable time. This song is one of a break up, where the singer laments that his love has left. And he knows “she ain’t coming back, I learned that from you.” Life’s lessons all drawn from the one who got away, the one you always want back. Marks growth as an artist and singer continue to rise and he is one of Bar Frog Records brightest talents.
www.markbraycountry.com, IG – @Markbraycountry, FB – Mark Bray
The pride of Clearwater, Kansas, Logan Mize, has a great new song out called “The Prettiest Girl In The World.” He sings of trying to understand how a beautiful girl could not understand the depths of her beauty. It’s hard for our singer to imagine how she doubts the way others see her. In his eyes she is the prettiest girl in the world however he can’t understand how she doesn’t see it. It’s hard to believe that she needs to hear somebody loves her at her worst like he does at her best. Just an amazing song and performance, you must hear it to understand. I am a bit partial to the acoustic version myself.
www.loganmize.com, FB-Logan Mize, IG – @loganmize
Ray Scott – Nowhere Near Done (EP)
One of that stalwarts carrying the banner for traditional country music Ray Scott returned early in the quarantine with an EP called “Nowhere Near Done.” “Better As I Go” is a classic country tale of life on the road and the grounding power of love. Amidst all the distractions, pressures, hardships, and temptations of life on the road there is a singular grounding force. The power of love, and the desire to be a better man as you travel through life guide this song.
“Bottle of Whiskey” is every drinkers worst fear. The bottle singing the justification for all of the things that can happen as a result. After all “I’m just a bottle of whiskey, I ain’t all that bad…Moderation is the key, getting’ hooked on me might not end up well.” Songs like “Wander” and “Big Ol’ World” bring the pace up to get to the honky tonk anthem with Ward Davis called “I Will.” Traditionalists can plant their flags behind this hardcore country poke at the Nashville machine, and it’s cookie cutter “wussy pop.” The collection rounds out with the title ballad “Nowhere Near Done,” lamenting how the establishment wrote him off but he continues to do things his way. He sings of the song that someday will be the last one, but he’s “Nowhere Near Done.”
Also check out Live from the RAY-ve in the Cave, Rays semi-regular streaming show of acoustic hits and classic covers. A breath of fresh air and song crafting, if you don’t like Ray Scott, you can kiss my ass.
www.rayscott.com, FB-Ray Scott, IG – @RayScottMusic
With a riff sounding like an old Brooks & Dunn classic, Mark Chesnutt launches into another rollicking Texas Honky Tonk jam. With tongue firmly in cheek, Mark sings about his new love reminding him of an old flame. This is a fun, pun filled, well written gem that belongs on radio’s everywhere. This is the classic sound of Mark Chesnutt that the world of today’s country music is missing. Look for the new album “Numbers on the Jukebox” coming soon!
www.markchesnutt.com, FB – Mark Chesnutt, IG – @officialmarkchesnutt
Sam Grow – Song About You
Make sure you check out Sam Grow, and his latest single “Song About You.” A Maryland native Sam Grow continues to build an increasing fanbase with relatable songs and catchy melodies. I remember seeing him play a set opening a show at the Round Up awhile back and thinking he is definitely going somewhere. Since signing with Average Joe’s Ent. in 2018 his stock continues to rise with songs like “Boots” and “History.” The new single is not about heartbreak, breaking up, red dirt, dive bars, or anything else… it’s a “Song About You.”
FB – Sam Grow, IG – @Samgrowmusic
There is plenty more including newcomer Matt Stell and one of my new favorites “If I Was A Bar.” Eric Church has dropped couple of surprise tunes “Stick That In Your Country Song” and “Bad Mother Trucker.” Also check out the latest from Tracy Lawrence – “When The Cowboy’s Gone.” My boys in Broseph have released their latest “All American,” and If you have a little extra time check out a couple of bands I got turned on to during the early part of the initial Covid shutdown… from Texas is a band called Kin Faux, and from the West Coast check out The Morgan Leigh Band.
Since we all have more time to look and more music to choose from do yourself a favor and look beyond the top 40 and find the true passion of today’s country music. Stay safe, stay sane, keep listening, wash your damn hands, and be well… The challenges of today will lead to a better tomorrow.