Top 10 Americana, Alt-Country, Bluegrass and Folk Songs of 2017

The past few years have brought a resurgence in the Americana, bluegrass, folk, and alt-country genres, and 2017 was a year in which fans saw the fruits of that labor. With newcomers such as Whitney Rose and the Texas Gentlemen easily adopting and establishing groups such as Jason Isbell and the Infamous Stringdusters releasing some of their best music to date, 2017 was the year to listen to the subgenres we call close friends of country music.

Below, The Boot counts down the top 10 Americana, alt-country, bluegrass and folk songs of 2017.

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    “Bondurant Women”

    The Gentlemen of Texas

    The Gentlemen of Texas created TX jelly in a daylong jam session, born out of unexpected open studio time in Muscle Shoals, Ala. And no other song from the band’s debut studio album represents this laid-back recording process better than “Bondurant Women.” With its laid-back vibe and sprawling instrumentation, the song is funky and eclectic and even a little irreverent – ​​a perfect mess, complete with one of the smartest music videos of 2017.

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    “Difficulty”

    Outlaw Sam

    Drawing inspiration from one of his biggest musical influences, Outlaw infused a good portion of Tom Petty into this song. An anthem for enablers, “Trouble” tells the story of holding on to what’s wrong even though you know it’s toxic, pairing hard-hitting lyrics and hard-hitting drums with Outlaw’s signature “SoCal country” sound. . In more ways than one, it’s a perfect picture of what to expect from Outlaw’s second album, Soft heart, which focuses more on subtle sweetness than the muscular machismo that a name like “Outlaw” can imply. For the Los Angeles-based singer, it all comes down to Petty and his ability to make music that Outlaw says is “tough but sweet.”

    “I’ve always found more honesty in tenderness than in harshness,” he told Rolling Stone Country. “I very intentionally wanted to combat any expectation that I’m trying to be a badass country singer.”

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    “Jackpot”

    Nikki Lane

    Lane’s honky-tonkin hit proves why the singer-songwriter has been dubbed the “first lady of outlaw country.” A song that compares a winning streak in casinos to finding true love, “Jackpot” is full of wit, humor and edge that fans love about Lane and his music. The catchy, high-energy track is from the South Carolina artist’s third album, queen of the highway, and perfectly encapsulates the fierce attitude and country rock ‘n’ roll sound of the album. Lane’s fusion of traditional honky-tonk, classic country-western themes, and guitar-driven modern rock is proudly displayed on “Jackpot.”

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    “I can’t stop shaking”

    Whitney Rose

    Bluesy and filled with funk, “Can’t Stop Shakin'” is just one of the gems of Rose’s second album, Rule 62. A song that Rose says started “like something I’d sing to calm myself down,” “Can’t Stop Shakin'” boasts quite the backing band, with everything from steel guitars to organs to a section brass instruments. Jazzy pianos and saxophones perfectly complement Rose’s rock ‘n’ roll guitar riffs and sultry vocals, resulting in a country tune that’s as groovy as it is twangy. How she manages to master two very different sounds in one song is a mystery. which will keep us listening for a while.

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    “Gravity”

    The Infamous Stringdusters

    The Infamous Stringdusters have released their eighth studio album, Laws of gravity, back in January. The second single from the bluegrass outfit’s latest offering, “Gravity” is the perfect love song: both heartbreaking and hopeful as it illustrates the happy feeling of falling in love and the urgent fight to keep it alive. when time seems to pass too quickly. . With poignant lyrics such as “We thought the good times were yet to come / We didn’t know we were in” sung over spiraling banjos and a sweet fiddle melody, “Gravity” is victorious in its ability to make love real and beautiful even as it belies the truth that time never lets it last forever.

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    “Dispute”

    Angaleena Presley

    No one can go against tradition and make it sound as good as Angaleena Presley. “Wrangled” is the title track from Presley’s second album, unashamedly, but while the name (not to mention the album cover) implies it’s going to be a track full of swagger and brawn, “Wrangled” is exactly that. the opposite, full of silent emotion and raw emotion. A subtle track about a woman who finds her place outside of cultural norms, Presley’s haunting vocals are in full force on “Wrangled,” as is her unabashedly honest lyricism: “The Bible says a woman must know her place / Mine is here in the midst of it all / Wide open space” are fighting words wrapped in stunning imagery.

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    “The Perilous Night”

    Truckers driving

    While more than a few songs have been released in reaction to the bitter 2016 presidential election, none seem to capture the darkness of politics while simultaneously making you want to dance (yes, dance!) just like “The Perilous Night “. Released on November 7, as scores of American citizens headed to the polls for state and local elections, the song finds the Drive-By Truckers providing visceral commentary on the divisive politics, mass violence and general grief plaguing currently our world; however, they keep the message palatable, and even enjoyable, with rocking guitars and gospel-like choirs.

    “It might be the darkest song I’ve ever written,” says DBT member Patterson Hood, “But it’s also a dance song – turn it up!”

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    “Weakness”

    Margo Price

    A crowd-raising anthem and hell for all outcasts trying to live up to their own (sometimes worst) expectations, Price’s “Weakness” is a brilliant gem on a brilliant album, made all the more epic by the devil- can the singer -care music video for the track. First released on Price’s surprise EP of the same name in July, “Weakness” also appears on his second studio album, All made in the USA, bringing the fiddle melody and steely riffs to life for fans and new listeners alike. “Weakness” is an ode to all the bad things and our inability to escape them… or want to to escape them. Because, after all, and as Price sings in the chorus, “Sometimes my weakness is stronger than me.”

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    “If We Were Vampires”

    Jason Isbell and Unit 400

    While the prevailing image when it comes to vampires and love right now is that of two overly hormonal teenagers (thanks a lot, dusk!), Jason Isbell and Unit 400 are here to change that. “If We Were Vampires” is a wistful, haunting ballad of love and knowing it can’t go on forever, but wondering what it would be like if it could. Showcasing Isbell’s prowess as an acoustic performer, “If We Were Vampires” is even more heartbreaking thanks to backing vocals sung by Isbell’s real-life wife (and hugely talented musician), Amanda Shires. While the whole of Isbell The sound of Nashville is stellar on its own, “If We Were Vampires” is a highlight.

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    “Old Feeling (Like Before)”

    Turnpike Turbadours

    The Turnpike Troubadours have made a name for themselves across the United States with hellish songs (and live performances), but with the release of “Old Time Feeling (Like Before)”, the group adopts a decidedly calmer and more melancholy turn. Thanks to its simple melody and underlined banjo, organ and steel guitar, what shines brightest on “Old Time Feeling (Like Before)” is the lyrics. With lines like “I miss you now but hey no sweat / I can do just fine on my own” and “Well I don’t mind you playing me / Just keep it in a major key ” “Old Time Feeling (Like Before)” is full of equal parts nostalgia and resignation and reveals the beautiful evolution of a band that has come into its own.

NEXT: Top 10 Country Music Songs of 2017

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