Sizzling Summer Country Round-Up by Roman Mitz/Open Spaces

Well, it’s been a real scorcher of late and things also seem to be heating up in terms of new country releases, available right now on all of your favourite music platforms. The hottest of the hot right now appears to be Matt Lang who’s self-titled five-song EP is sitting on top of the Canadian Country charts.  The singer, who hails from Maniwaki Quebec, recorded his first English language album in Nashville with Danick Dupelle, a Québec producer who has lived in Music City for nearly 18 years and is a member of the popular group Emerson Drive. Matt’s first single, ‘Love Me Some You’, now has over 1,500,000 Spotify plays and the follow-up ‘My Final Pour’  has over 500,000 spins. Matt has always wanted to bring Nashville to Quebec – he performed over 75 dates in the past two years and has more than 25 dates there for the remainder of 2019.  A few lucky folks in Toronto were fortunate to catch him in late July when he performed a sterling set at a private showcase at The Piston Club.

With the passing of Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash, The Highwaymen are no more, but Willie and Kris can now pass the torch to a new country conglomerate called The Highwomen is comprised of multiple Grammy winner Brandi Carlile, acclaimed singer/songwriter Natalie Hemby, country chart-topper Maren Morris and Amanda Shires, who most recently played violin for Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit.

Their group’s first single is called ‘Redesigning Women’, and Natalie says she was inspired to write the song by the life most women are living today. “We juggle so much in 24 hours and I wanted to write something that reflected the goodness, the madness and the hilarity of it all.” And on the shared vision of The Highwomen Brandi notes, “It’s about banding together, abandoning as much ego as humanly possible, holding one another up and amplifying other women every chance we get. Shoulder to shoulder. One push, one love.” Their debut album will be out on September 6.

The Highwomen

Another all-female outfit, this one out of Alberta, is Nice Horse, a self-described band of badass women who got together to raise a little hell and play a little music at the same time. Brandi Sidoryk (bass/vocals), Tara McLeod (guitar), Katie Rox (banjo/vocals) and Krista Wodelet (drums/vocals) are out to show the guys that they can rock—and party—just as hard as them. Nice Horse just released their new killer single ‘Good Life’ and are playing festivals across the country before returning back to their home province for the 2019 Canadian Country Music Awards. They’re hoping to add to the hardware they already collected at the 2019 Alberta CMA’s where they won awards for ‘Group Of The Year’ and ‘Video Of The Year’ (for the song ‘Mansplainin’).

Nice Horse
Nice Horse

Heading to the other side of the country, Sydney-raised, Halifax-based singer-songwriter Dave Sampson is gearing up to release a new album later this year, and he has just shared the first taste of new music with the track ‘Trouble’.

Sampson writes heart-on-your-sleeve folk/pop songs, delivered with a captivating and authentic voice, and Trouble is a fine example of his storytelling ability. “This song speaks for itself,” he says “It’s about someone who is trying their best to stay out of trouble, but inevitably it always comes around.”

Dave Sampson
Dave Sampson

Lindsay Ontario’s Madison Kozak hit the big time, at least in Open Spaces’ view, when she opened for Willie Nelson earlier this year at his show in Nashville.  It was, however, not her first taste of the big time. At just 10 years old, Madison was selected to perform at the Havelock Country Jamboree, a music festival drawing an audience of 30,000 people, and whose past performers include Dierks Bentley, Josh Turner and Reba McEntire. Madison eventually settled in Nashville where she has since worked diligently to hone her craft, blending her old country roots with catchy melodies. Her new single is called ‘First Last Name’, a touching song about newfound marital bliss.

Madison Kozak
Madison Kozak

Born and raised in Toronto, Owen Barney has been strumming the guitar since he was just seven years old, influenced by country heavy-hitters Eric Church, Dean Brody, and Jason Aldean. He has just released his first four-song EP, ‘Diamonds & Dust’, featuring the fabulous single ‘Somebody Like You’, a duet with Edmonton singer/songwriter Alyssa Reid. You can check Owen out at a couple of Ontario venues, first at the Boots & Hearts Festival on August 8, followed by two shows at Toronto’s Canadian National Exhibition, where he’s playing the Northern Comfort Saloon on August 21 and 22.

Owen Barney
Owen Barney

And last, but certainly not least, we welcome a newly unearthed collection of recordings by Ian & Sylvia Tyson. The summer of 1959 was a pivotal month for the history of folk and country music. It was when Ian Tyson met Sylvia Fricker for the first time, which began a musical journey, both as a dynamic duo and with distinguished solo careers, that would help put Canadian country music on the map globally. In honour of the start of this historic musical collaboration, Stony Plain Records will be releasing “Ian & Sylvia The Lost Tapes” on September 6.  This comes the day after their much-anticipated inductions as individual songwriters to the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, which will be presented on September 5th at Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre, during Country Music Week in Calgary, AB.

Ian & Sylvia
Ian & Sylvia – The Lost Tapes

Ian and Sylvia 1968
Ian & Sylvia 1968

Roman Mitz for Music Express Open Spaces

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