SMOKIN’, DRINKIN’, HURTIN’, LOVIN’
No firearms, misogyny, or beer here. Okay, a lot of beer. We all drink, smoke, hurt, and love. These often overlooked country artists give us the best of the worst with Americana flair.
SMOKIN’ AND DRINKIN’
[+] LORETTA LYNN
Straight-shooting, forever-fighting Lynn is a true pioneer. The first woman to sing about birth control and and the stigma divorcees often face packs a punch in “Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’ ” by warning her lover to lay off the bottle if he wants to get loved (and laid).
[+] MERLE HAGGARD
He turned 21 in prison after Mama tried to raise him better. “Misery and Gin” is Haggard’s smoky bar ballad. It’s simple, sultry, and somber; best paired with Bombay neat, a neon jukebox, and finding another broken heart with whom to commiserate.
[+] KACEY MUSGRAVES
Country’s cool girl traverses topics from the legalization of same-sex marriage and rolling joints to the sorrowful monotony of living in a small town Americana haze. This track’s grungy vibes tackle the sardonicism of nicotine addiction when we should all know better.
[+] BRANDY CLARK
Moms spark up, too. Similar to Musgraves’ depiction of sometimes sorrowful small town living, Clark writes about the use of pot to deal with pity in a setting you’d least expect.
CHEATIN’ AND HURTIN’
[+] DOLLY PARTON
From her iconic “Jolene” to penning the original version of “I Will Always Love You“, you just believe whatever Parton puts in front of you. “The Bargain Store” is Parton’s admittance of her heart’s damaged goods in a vulnerable call for love.
[+] GILLIAN WELCH
Manhattan-bred Welch brings a cut-and-dry New York City attitude to her work. Covered by Miranda Lambert and featured in the Jenny Lewis-scored Very Good Girls, “Look At Miss Ohio” is a widely regarded tune of an Americana small town girl’s lust for life outside the bubble, even if it means putting off doing right for a little while.
[+] LEE ANN WOMACK
Drinks turn into picking up your phone, which turns into winding up in an ex’s bed. Womack’s simple and sorrowful track tells a narrative we’re all too familiar with.
[+] AUBRIE SELLERS
Sellers’ dark-toned style packs apt skepticism while avoiding jadedness. “Light of Day” explores the crossroads of decisions that didn’t quite work out and the hurt and burden one has to bear in the aftermath.
[+] GLEN CAMPBELL
The late Rhinestone Cowboy merged glamorous 60s flair with straightforward lyrical content. “Gentle on My Mind” envelops listeners with its uptempo sound and Glen’s warm voice as he sings of someone who may not be right in front of him but who will always hold a corner of his heart.
[+] RONNIE MILSAP
A crossover king, Milsap flirts with varying styles. “(There’s) No Gettin’ Over Me” grins and bears its way through a heartbreaking situation of a woman who walked out. Milsap ensures he’ll be one she simply can’t forget.
[+] MIRANDA LAMBERT
You probably know her as the girl who’ll burn your house down if you cheat on her or for her gut-wrenchingly raw heartbreak ballads. “All Kinds of Kinds’ ” fully formed character work presents a narrative preaching love and acceptance no matter who or what you are.
[+] LITTLE BIG TOWN
Stunning harmonies are LBT’s trademark. “Sober” boasts enchanting melodies and the sugary sweet subject of a love that ages well.