Just a few days before Laine Hardy was crowned the official 2019 American Idol on the Sunday night (May 19) finale, he asked his growing social media following where he fits in. A simple question, for sure, but one with a not-so-simple answer. In fact, as of the day after his big win, that tweet has generated hundreds of responses and thousands of retweets. But still, it’s hard to put a label on Hardy.
“What genre do y’all think I am?” Laine Hardy
On one hand, Swampy Bayou Country Rock, if that’s indeed a thing, is what the majority of his followers used to describe his sound. And on the other hand, Hardy seems to have fans who want him to be all things. In other words, no labels, no boxes, no narrow-mindedness.
With Luke Bryan’s support throughout this Idol season — and last Idol season when Hardy had some success but failed to make it into the top ten — there might have been the assumption that Hardy was going to lean a little country.
After all, he drives a pick-up truck, sometimes just to burn gas. He has a deep Southern drawl that’ll make the conversation crawl. He’s hunted alligators. He’s been in a dirt bike accident. But of all the songs he performed on the show, only a few were straight-up country tunes: Chris Stapleton’s “Fire Away,” Hank Williams’ “Jambalaya (On the Bayou)” and a duet on Johnny Cash and June Carter’s “Jackson.” It’s unclear whether Hardy was just asking the genre question rhetorically, or if he truly wants to know where he stands with his fans. One thing we know for sure, though, is that America loves their #BayouBoy.
Though Willie Nelson is a country icon – one who’s career has spanned more than 60 years and has inspired countless artists – he’s long been anchored by a gentle spirit that makes him a powerful leader in the genre, a rare combination that emanates throughout his 69th studio album Ride Me Back Home. He sets this tone with the title track, an empathetic tribute to his beloved horses. Songwriters Sonny Throckmorton, Debby Throckmorton, Joe Manual and Lucinda Hinton channel Nelson’s pure heart that saved 70 horses from slaughter into the thoughtful ode. Nelson exudes a sense of selflessness as he sings of his desire to create a place of solitude for these animals. “Ride me back home to a much better place, blue skies and sunshine and plenty of space, somewhere where they would just leave you alone, somewhere that you could call home, and you would just ride me back home,” he sings over a soothing, classic country-meets-western melody of piano, steel guitar and harmonica.
Alongside his worthy originals, Ride Me Back Home finds the country legend delivering a series of engaging covers, such as the compelling “My Favorite Picture of You” by the late Guy Clark. The waning piano ballad is one of many that demonstrates Clark’s masterful songwriting, transporting the listener directly into the words that find a man recalling the memories of his ex as he explores old photographs, Clark’s writing so descriptive and poetic that it makes the listener feel like they’re the photographer capturing these moments. “A thousand words in the blink of an eye, the camera loves you and so do I,” Nelson sings, honoring Clark’s words and the emotion behind them.
He again fulfills the poignancy in Clark’s songwriting on “Immigrant Eyes” which offers compassion to the millions of people who sought refuge as they entered Ellis Island, their stories reflected in an elderly man who lived through such a harrowing experience that Nelson brings to life as he sings, “sometimes when I look in my grandfather’s immigrant eyes, I saw that day reflected and couldn’t hold my feelings inside, I saw started with nothing and working hard all of his life, so don’t take it for granted, said grandfather’s immigrant eyes.”
Nelson beautifully balances sympathy with humor, like when he follows the loving “Ride Me Back Home” with “Come on Time,” the 86-year-old playfully exploring his relationship with Father Time, but still finding peace in the passing years. “Time, you’re not fooling me, you’re something I can’t kill…you sure have put me in my place…come on time, it looks like you’re winning the race,” he sings over a quick-paced traditional country melody. He’s a natural at conveying his sense of humor on a cover of Mac Davis’ “It’s Hard to be Humble,” featuring his sons Lukas and Micah Nelson, about a man who’s obsessed with himself, and when he shares he “had a seven year itch, scratched it out in three” on the bluesy “Seven Year Itch,” alongside a warm rendition of Billy Joel’s acceptance-themed hit, “Just the Way You Are.”
What makes the album particularly special is that it trades filler tracks for lyrical gems, each line dripping with imagery. One of the most striking examples of this is in “Stay Away From Lonely Places,” a re-imagination of the deep cut on Nelson’s 1972 album The Words Don’t Fit the Picture. He turns the song from a classic country song with crying steel guitar into a piano number fit for a jazz bar, Nelson’s calming voice still exuding the pain and heartache of a man who must keep isolation at bay in order to keep his heart from breaking any further. It’s here that Nelson exemplifies his lyrical genius, particularly in the words “remember, sorrow prospers in a heart that never smiles” while creating the visual of someone’s outstretched arms waiting to comfort this lonely soul.
If there’s one element Nelson has embraced consistently in his enduring career is the role of a wise storyteller, which he demonstrates on the Skip Denenberg and Dan “Bee” Spears-penned “Nobody’s Listening.” He builds a narrative around society’s lack of awareness, whether it’s a man in need after losing his job and home, or people neglecting the warnings of a devastating storm. It’s in this message that Nelson embodies the truthful soothsayer as he recognizes, “in these days of change and mass communication, seems like no one’s plugged into the sounds of desperation,” and makes a truly personal statement with, “and the singer sings his song, and he tries to impart all the troubles going on weighing heavy on his heart, what good is a song that he has to sing when nobody’s listening, but I know why he has to try to sing, cause he believes that somebody’s listening.” It’s in this last line where Nelson demonstrates his own awareness, as he’s long served as a beacon of trust and guidance to the fans who’ve been heeding his words for decades, along with his insightfulness and unwavering integrity. This is all reflected in Ride Me Back Home, which continues his legacy as an institution not only in music, but the world he so vastly contributes to.
Named after their upcoming sophomore album and set to kick off September 17th in New York City, the tour will visit 18 markets and stretch all the way from Iowa to Hawaii, and even includes four stops in Australia (as part of the C2C Festival and opening for Tim McGraw). The trio of Mark Wystrach, Cameron Duddy and Jess Carson will also “Let It Roll” through Oklahoma, Arizona, Utah, Wisconsin and more, before wrapping November 9th in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Venues for each date have yet to be announced.
Tickets for Midland’s Let It Roll Tour go on sale Friday (June 14th) at 10 a.m. local time via the band’s website, while Spotify users in select markets will have pre-sale access starting Wednesday (June 12th). Featuring the shuffling two-stepper “Mr. Lonely,” Midland’s Let It Roll album is set to come out August 23rd. It follows the Texas-based band’s breakout debut, On the Rocks, which landed at Number Two upon release and included the Top Five radio hits “Drinkin’ Problem” and “Burn Out.” The band have a full summer of festival and supporting dates scheduled across the U.S.
Rita Faye and Connie Cassell Tuck celebrating their much deserved AirplayExpress Platinum award for their gigantic number one charted Gospel Hit, “Rough Around The Edges” recently. According to their FaceBook page they both admitted that they were blessed.
Rita Faye singer on “Rough Around The Edges” had this to say, “Thank you all so much!! Connie Cassell Tuck and I had a blast and we are blessed to see so much popularity for our efforts.”
More about Rita Faye: Rita Faye is a performing singer/songwriter and enjoys many different genres of music. Growing up in the ’70’s era, she learned to mix country and pop. With roots in gospel music and her faith in God, she started writing songs and has a debut CD of Country/Gospel Music – all original music. There are many ways to describe Rita Faye Tanner, but unique, talented, and charismatic just seem to scratch the surface. However, there is one word that ties them all together and is true to her character: Rita Faye Tanner is Real. Few people sing so honestly from their heart and soul. Rita Faye Tanner does so in just the right way, combining art, story, and song in perfect unison.
Connie the one responsible for the songwriting on, “Rough Around The Edges” also feeling blessed and very excited about her AirplayExpress Platinum award.
“Thank you for all the support. Best ever and we love y’all. This is what inspires us to write and sing.” Connie Cassell Tuck
More About Connie Cassell Tuck: Music has the power to transport us to another time and place. Connie Cassell Tuck loves to harness that power with a broad audience of fellow music lovers and passionate musicians alike. Ever since a young age, Connie Cassell Tuck has found great joy and satisfaction by being involved in the creative music process. Connie is an award winning songwriter with many songs recorded by just as many artists. Connie songs are mostly in the Country/Gospel genre. Reaching out to help others. Connie admits that, writing songs in all genres these days helps her to reach to to more and more people, artists worldwide, by telling stories to all she can reach in a song.
Both Rita and Connie often referred to by fans as the, “Beautiful Song Sisters” have had many hits over the years and it seems that they are just starting as the awards keep coming in day after day, month after month and year after year. They have not only received multiple awards from AirplayExpress they have also been nominated for the 2019 “Josey Awards” after winning big there in 2018, held in “Dollywood” for the second time this year.
We here at AirplayExpress wish them only the best and hope that all the dreams they dream from here on will also come true.
At Sounds Like Nashville, we pride ourselves on bringing our readers updates about the latest and greatest songs coming out of Music City. Whether it’s a new single from the biggest superstar or the debut track from a new artist, we hope to bring fans a wide range of what’s hot in country music. At the top of each month, our staff selects their personal favorite new songs and updates SLN’s ongoing 10 Songs You Should Be Listening To playlist. This month, Sounds Like Nashville has a variety of songs from a few of country’s most iconic voices and several from the genre’s brightest rising stars. On the traditional side, Vince Gill and Randy Travis land on the list with their latest, while stepping outside of genre lines is Diplo, who enlisted Cam for his techy-track “So Long.”
Lady Antebellum – “What If I Never Get Over You”
Walker Hayes – “Don’t Let Her”
Keith Urban – “We Were”
Hayley Orrantia – “If I Don’t”
Vince Gill – “A Letter To My Mama”
Old Dominion – “Some People Do”
Baylee Littrell – “Boxes”
Luke Combs – “Beer Never Broke My Heart”
Diplo – “So Long” feat. Cam
Randy Travis – “One In A Row”