An eclectic group of tunes round out our top tracks of the month for September. From a haunting cover by Amythyst Kiah, to the new artist that is taking country music by storm, our readers have exceptional taste. Country star Kelsea Ballerini’s refreshing new single and and Americana artist John Calvin Abney’s lyrically devastating deep cut from his new album round out our list.
The always-impeccable Amythyst Kiah sets fire to Katy Perry’s “Chained to the Rhythm.” As part of her Pensive Pop EP, Kiah revamps the tempo into an airier, quieter, and more haunting performance. Her voice is millimeters above a whisper, a vital reconfiguration to scrape deeper into the skin and ligaments. It’s a plea to wake up to what’s going on in the world, and no one is better apt to deliver such a message than Kiah 一 sorry, Katy. Kiah’s voice bubbles and wafts on the melody, as though she’s conjuring up a redemption spell for mankind. “Keep sweeping it under the mat / Thought we could do better than that,” she sings. “I hope we can.”
Listen to “Chained to the Rhythm” below.
In country music, you can’t have heartbreak without a bit of drinking. In the throes of sadness, Parker McCollum “biggest bottle they got ’cause you’re gone,” he weeps with new song “Handle On You.” Then, he turns his attention to music, as a companion salve to his troubles, “Drop a needle on a vinyl and cry to old an Haggard song / Sittin’ at the table, baby breakin’ the seal / Gonna see how much of this pain I can kill.” True to his musical aesthetic, McCollum washes away in bright neons and the smooth warmth of whiskey, following in line with many of his predecessors.
Listen to “Handle On You” below.
A constant barrage of tragic headlines can make it hard to tear yourself away from doomscrolling. Getting fresh air certainly helps to cleanse the mind and remind yourself of those small, fleeting moments that make living worth it. Kelsea Ballerini loses herself in a wave of moments with “THE LITTLE THINGS,” an energizing number about cherishing every single second we’re alive. Instead of a bouquet of roses, Ballerini would rather her lover “just leave a daisy on the dashboard,” she sings. Later, she encourages a complete overhaul of daily life. “Back to the basics ’cause they’re bigger than they seem / Give me that typical, simple love, it’s the little things.”
Listen to “THE LITTLE THINGS” below.
“I need a vacation,” coos John Calvin Abney. It’s both a profuse declaration and a hushed sigh. “Leave Me at the Shoreline,” off his newly-released Tourist LP, laps around the earlobes like waves kissing a seashell-crusted beach. Crystalline beads of sand melt together, almost as though Abney’s view is actually a dripping watercolor. “I made a promise I said I would keep / But I know I can’t,” he stretches his heart until it snaps. “If you leave me at the shoreline, and forget me slow, I’ll do the same to you in time / Like the evening glow.” Heartbreak, if nothing else, is cataclysmically devastating.
Listen to “Leave Me at the Shoreline” below.
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