10 Best Country and Americana Songs to Hear Now

10 Best Country and Americana Songs to Hear Now

Chase Rice offers up the mellow ballad “Lonely If You Are” and Caroline Jones heads south in “Gulf Coast Girl,” plus new releases from Gwen Sebastian and Jedd Hughes in this week’s list of must-hear songs.

Gwen Sebastian, “Rock Stars”
For the past decade, Gwen Sebastian has juggled her solo career with a high-profile gig as a sidewoman for Miranda Lambert and other headliners. On “Rock Stars,” she fuels an anthemic, mid-tempo song with PG-13 come-ons and NSFW admissions, singing lines like “I confess I bought this dress just to let you tear it off” with a voice that’s often more powerful and potent than those of her employers.

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Gwen Sebastian Releases Sultry New Single, “Rock Stars”

Gwen Sebastian Releases Sultry New Single, “Rock Stars”

There are a solid handful of songs on the radio empowering women and reminding them that they have choices and control over their lives and bodies. Some sound angry and defiant, others sound celebratory and triumphant, some are nostalgic and sweet, others are just downright fun. Now, Gwen Sebastian’s new single, “Rock Stars,” gives the choice and control a sultry spin.

While the groove is slow-rolling and the production in the intro hints at a dark seduction, the chorus opens up to cradle Gwen’s shimmering vocal, changing the tone ever-so-slightly from tantalizing to titillating while still maintaining the edgy groove established from the start.

“It’s about bringing passion back into a relationship from a female perspective that’s said in an untraditional way,” Gwen says of “Rock Stars.”

Lyrics like, “Been too long since I led you on and led you down the hall, and let you catch me, let you press me up against the wall. I confess I bought this dress just to let you tear it off,” leave little question as to what the singer’s motives are and who is in control of the forthcoming activities. The song also serves as a solid reminder that while women are letting their voices be heard loudly and clearly in the workplace, on social media, and in politics, they are also entitled to ask for exactly what they want in the bedroom.

Or in the back seat. Or on the kitchen table. You know, whatevs. And if they ask like Gwen, they’re very likely to get it. “Rock Stars” is the newest release from Gwen’s upcoming album, Once Upon a Time in the West: Act II and was co-written by Gwen, Blue Foley and Randall Clay.

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7 COUNTRY & AMERICANA BACKUP SINGERS WHO DESERVE THEIR OWN SPOTLIGHT

7 COUNTRY & AMERICANA BACKUP SINGERS WHO DESERVE THEIR OWN SPOTLIGHT

Behind (or beside) every great artist, there’s often a backup singer. Those men and women add layers to a star’s live performance, yes, but they also have incredible voices themselves. After all, they’re making a living backing up superstars.

Some of the best backup singers in country and Americana have names you likely know (hi, Gwen Sebastian!). Some have fan followings all their own (just watch how the crowd reacts next time Chris Stapleton introduces his wife during a concert). All are 100-percent worthy of a spotlight all their own.

Sebastian first became connected with Miranda Lambert when Lambert’s now-ex-husband, Blake Shelton, chose Sebastian for his team on the second season of The Voice. Sebastian worked with Lambert during that season’s Battle Rounds, beginning a lasting bond. These days, Sebastian tours with Lambert; not only does she provide backup vocals, but she also co-wrote three songs on Lambert’s 2016 album The Weight of These Wings.
12 Great Country, Americana Albums You Probably Didn’t Hear in 2017

12 Great Country, Americana Albums You Probably Didn’t Hear in 2017

Gwen Sebastian, ‘Once Upon a Time in the West, Act 1’

It takes one to know one, and Miranda Lambert knows ’em for sure, particularly in the case of Gwen Sebastian, a member of her current touring band, backing vocalist on Platinum and The Weight of These Wings, and occasional songwriting partner (the duo co-wrote three songs on TWOTW.). But Sebastian, who was once a contestant on The Voice, has a dynamic artistic perspective all her own, and Once Upon a Time in the West, Act 1 is an intimate and expertly sung exploration that starts in the saloon, walks through (and stomps over) the heart and ends at a solemn, dusty piano. With plenty of spitfire attitude (“Love Birds”), romantic laments (“Oh Cowboy,” featuring Lambert) and dangerous, barn-burning twangers (“Blue Flame”), it’s a fully realized snapshot of an artist who should no longer be in the background. M.M.

 

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Hear the heartbreaking new song Gwen Sebastian wrote with Miranda Lambert and Anderson East

Hear the heartbreaking new song Gwen Sebastian wrote with Miranda Lambert and Anderson East

Former “The Voice” contestant Gwen Sebastian tells Rare Country about writing a heartbreak song with pals Miranda Lambert and Anderson East.

There’ve been a million songs written about how hard it is for a person making their living on the road, but it’s rare you hear the perspective of the person who’s left behind at home. That’s what Gwen Sebastian’s new song, “I’m Not With the Band,” is all about. As a touring musician who is married to another musician, Gwen knows firsthand how hard it is to be away from your significant other when one of you is on the road and the other one is home alone.

Gwen tells Rare Country, “It’s difficult. We love what we do, and we’re so lucky to be able to do music for a living. So, I mean, it sounds like something that we shouldn’t be whining about, but you sacrifice a lot. Musicians sacrifice a lot. Husbands and wives that are at home sacrifice a lot as well.  You have to find that balance of being happy on the road and coming home, too. You get used to being on the road. It’s so hard to come back and be involved in normal life again.”

These days, Gwen is busy on the road singing harmony with her pal, Miranda Lambert. Gwen and Miranda co-wrote “I’m With the Band” with along with their friend April Lewis and Miranda’s boyfriend, Anderson East. The ladies were on the West Coast on a girls’ trip to watch one of Anderson’s shows when they all got together at the hotel for a songwriting session. “I’m With the Band” is the product of that collaboration.

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Review: Gwen Sebastian superb on ‘Once Upon A Time in the West: Act 1’

Review: Gwen Sebastian superb on ‘Once Upon A Time in the West: Act 1’

Country songstress Gwen Sebastian has released her new studio album, “Once Upon a Time in the West: Act I” via Flying Island Entertainment.

The album was produced by Louis Newman. It opens with the sultry title cut, “Once Upon a Time in the West,” which features her crisp and crystalline voice. It is followed by the sassy and mid-tempo “Blue Flame” and the bluesy ballad “Cadillac.”

“Wing and a Feather” features the gorgeous harmonies of country darling Ashley Monroe. “Love Birds” has a stirring melody to it, and it continues with the spitfire “Ain’t All That Bad.”

Sebastian’s vocals are poetic and heavenly on “Cry to Jackson,” where the listener can recall veteran country star Pam Tillis. Equally impressive is the acoustic ballad “Losers and Lashes,” which is pure country. Her single “Quicksand” is another gem, as Digital Journal reported.

Her duet “Oh Cowboy” with country queen Miranda Lambert is fantastic, and easily one of the top tracks on the album. After “I’m Not With the Band,” the album closes with the sassy “Drunk or Stoned” and the heart-wrenching ballad “Way to Go,” where she showcases tremendous control over her voice.

 The Verdict
Overall, Gwen Sebastian has released a superb studio effort with Once Upon a Time in the West: Act I, which has a wide variety of songs. It is worth more than just a passing glance, and it is recommended for all fans of country music. Sebastian never disappoints. This CD garners an A rating.
Her new album Once Upon a Time in the West: Act I is available on Amazon.

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