Americana has a long and storied history that has its fair share of twisted offshoots and subgenres. Basically, it can be a bit difficult to define. Over the years, the term has become widely used for anyone who uses the roots of music – namely folk, country, bluegrass, blues and gospel – to evoke the spirit of artists from a bygone era.
While the Americana Music Association celebrated all the genre has to offer at Americana Fest, let’s look at some tracks from the past few years that you should add to your super cute playlist!
1. “In Dreams” (Sierra Ferrell)
As anyone who’s been on Tik Tok in the past year knows, Sierra Ferrell is hitting its stride. “In Dreams” showcases Ferrell’s distorted, bent vocals over the classic roots shuffle. The hook is a proven material for earworms and the rebound of its backing band is insatiable. This song deserves a place in your playlist.
2. “Uh Huh” (jade bird)
Although Jade Bird hails from England, she is deeply steeped in Americana charms. From her 2019 self-titled album, “Uh Huh” sees the singer poke fun at her ex from a distance as his new girlfriend shacks her up – just like he did with her. You know what they say about karma…
3. “That’s how love is made” (The War and the Treaty)
In this stunner from The War and Treaty, the Nashville duo open their hearts and let it all out. Exploring what true partnership means, the track is yet another harmony masterclass from husband and wife Michael Trotter Jr. and Tanya Trotter. As far as bluesy ballads go this year, this one is a strong contender for the top spot.
4. “Sleeping at Night” (The Chicks)
gas lighter was The Chicks’ first post-divorce album for all three women and the lyrical content renders that fact very release. “Sleep At Night” is one of the sharpest tracks on the album, with lyrics like hubby’s girlfriend’s husband just called me / that’s fucked up / that’s so crazy I have to laugh / but then I think of our two boys trying to be men / there’s nothing funny about that.
5. “All the Good Times” (Angel Olsen)
Angel Olsen’s 2022 album, Highligths, delivered a host of Americana gems with “All The Good Times” being a standout. The slow-burning track is reminiscent of Tammy Wynette’s heartbroken wiles as she sings I don’t know who can see you / if you ever learned to let someone in / well, I tried to come find you / but I don’t know where to start.
6. “Four Letter Word” (Lukas Nelson and Promise of The Real)
Taken from Lukas Nelson and Promise of The Real’s 2017 self-titled album, “Four Letter Word” is a fun little number about wanting independence in a relationship. In the vein of the ironic country classics of Johnny Cash and his father, Willie Nelson, he sings true commitment sounds absurd / here in the land / forever is a four letter word.
7. “Learning to Lose (with Willie Nelson)” (Margo Price)
As the old saying goes, “experience is the best teacher, but tuition is high”. Margo Price and Willie Nelson explore this idea in “Learning To Lose”. Taken from Price’s 2017 album All made in the USAthe two verses exchanged before joining the chorus to sing won’t you tell me how long do I have to pay these dues? / Won’t you tell me that winning teaches you to lose? / you said it, oh but say it’s not true / does winning really teach you how to lose? They ask a good question. We pray that they tell us when they find the answer.
8. “You and Me on the Rock (feat. Lucius)” (Brandi Carlile)
Brandi Carlile has long credited Joni Mitchell as a major influence on her latest album In these silent days. On “You and Me On The Rock,” Mitchell’s presence is well explained by a catchy guitar riff and imagery-heavy lyrics. The song also features backing harmonies from indie pop band Lucius, further adding to its appeal.
Photo by Neil Krug/Sacks & Co