It's time for a fresh edition of The Boot's Weekly Picks, which highlights great new tracks from the world of country, Americana, folk and everything in between.
This week's edition features a stunning imagery-driven tale from Amanda Stewart, an energizing celebration of the ones you love by Jonathan Hutcherson, and a nostalgic traveling song from Rodney Rice.
Keep reading to check out the latest installment of The Boot's Weekly Picks, and check back every week for more great tracks curated by our contributing team.
Sug Daniels"When I'm Gone"
Sug Daniels has appeared on the World Cafe stage alongside the Black Opry, so it's clear that her distinctive style has already won critics' hearts. On "When I'm Gone," Daniels weds elements of folk, R&B, and rock into a playful song about casual encounters. She changes her pitch throughout the song, seducing both the listener and the characters internal to the track. It's a charming teaser for whatever is coming down the pipeline from Daniels and Don Giovanni Records, a punk and indie rock label that is slowly but surely embracing queer country artists. -- Rachel Cholst
Genre-melding artist Matt Andersen captures the best of blues, soul, rock and gospel in his new album, The Big Bottle of Joy. The 12-track LP features several standout tracks, including the slow-grooving cut "Aurora." Led by a church-reminiscent organ, brisk drums, and a choir-assisted call-and-response chorus, the tune finds Andersen professing his love for his sweet "Aurora." If you're a fan of down-home soulful blues music, Andersen's album is one you'll have on repeat. -- Jeremy Chua
Amanda Stewart"Lonesome Mountain"
Amanda Stewart flexes her songwriting muscle on "Lonesome Mountain," the first single from her upcoming album Venom, out July 28. Stewart draws inspiration from her home in Montana and youth on her grandparents' ranch.
Evoking natural imagery of solidity and isolation, Stewart reflects on the experiences that have resulted in hard-won lessons about confidence, strength, and knowing exactly what you want. Stewart's voice is mature and multi-faceted, making the song resonate deeply and hinting at what's on the horizon for a promising songwriter. -- Rachel Cholst
Jonathan Hutcherson continues his release of hit-ready songs with "Dust." A jaunty, foot-stomping anthem, the track finds Hutcherson flying high on gratitude and love as he celebrates the inherent traits that make him and his friends who they are.
"'Til these wheels turn to rust / And the lights don't buzz / Yeah we'll still, be us / 'Til ashes turn to ashes / And dust turn to dust / When the song spins off / And the Cumberland river don't run / Yeah we'll still be us / 'Til ashes turn to ashes / And dust turn to dust / We'll be us," Hutcherson sings in the euphoric chorus over a country and folk-rock-leaning production reminiscent of Mumford & Sons and The Lumineers.
The buzzed-about newcomer wrote "Dust" with Parker Welling and Mark Trussell and co-produced it with Trussell and Luke Laird. -- Jeremy Chua
Malena Cadiz"My Kind of Thief"
Malena Cadiz has been honing her songwriting for over a decade now, and her newest song, "My Kind of Thief," exemplifies her rich style. Cadiz's voice is a mix of mesquite smoke and fog rolling in off the coast: enchanting, mysterious, and self-assured.
"My Kind of Thief" floats along on its driving beat and ethereal guitars, emphasizing the mysteries of love and courtship. Cadiz fills the song with humor and storytelling, a potent combination of the indie rock of Williamsburg's heyday and Americana magic. -- Rachel Cholst
Leah Marie Mason "Me or My Hometown"
Newcomer Leah Marie Mason wears her heart on her sleeve in her new song, "Me or My Hometown." The part-haunting, part-plaintive ballad finds Mason ruminating over the unrecognizable state of her hometown. Instead of being dismayed by its unfamiliarity, the singer digs deeper into her identity and begins realizing that it's her who's changed, not her longtime safe haven.
"I don't know what's changed more, me or my hometown / The streets don't feel the same as they did sixteen driving around / Now I'm ten years older like the faded paint on my old house / I don't know what's changed more, me or my hometown," Mason reflects in the deeply-personal chorus. -- Jeremy Chua
Rodney Rice"Rabbit Ears Motel"
Revel in steel guitars and a shuffling drum beat on Rodney Rice's "Rabbit Ears Motel." The song is inspired by his honeymoon to Steamboat Springs, Colo., in which Rice's wife pointed out the curious name and neon sign of the local staple.
Rice's road-weary voice gives the song's refrain, "Checking out when checking in," a sense of resignation. In spite of the song's joyful origins, this is an observation of the boredom and desperation in the kinds of in-between places that support a motel that hasn't changed since the 1960s. -- Rachel Cholst