Weekend Replay: Country stars and rising stars

Jorja Smith, a rising R&B artist, released her debut album, Lost & Found, this week. With a smooth, soulful voice backed by hazy piano trills, Smith’s sound is timelessly melancholic, fitting into the modern soundscape seamlessly and may be reminiscent to some of fellow Brit Amy Winehouse. A highlight of the album is “Teenage Fantasy,” which evokes the sound of an underground lounge singer in a smoky club—piano and vocal melodies play with and against each other as if to emphasize the lyrics in the chorus: “We all want a teenage fantasy / Want it when we can’t have it / When we got it we don’t seem to want it.”

Country legends Little Big Town released the aptly titled “Summer Fever.” It’s not a pure country sound like much of their work, but it straddles the line between country and indie pop without feeling like it’s faked—the rare song that can successfully find a place on both country and adult contemporary stations. Shimmery guitars and muted but steady beats evoke the heat and lazy feeling of dusk in mid-July.

21-year-old Chelsea Cutler released her second EP last week. The New York City-based singer/songwriter got her start doing covers on Soundcloud, and soon moved into writing and recording original music. The eponymous track from Sleeping With Roses is less than a minute and a half long, but what’s remarkable is how it showcases all of Cutler’s strengths in such a short span of time. Simple but dreamy production lets her unique, modern vocals shine, and the lyrics are uncomplicated without being shallow.

Florida Georgia Line are back to their country roots with their latest single, “Simple.” After featuring on Bebe Rexha‘s country-pop crossover hit “Meant To Be,” it’s refreshing to hear this duo return to the kind of sound that timeless country is made of. It’s an upbeat tune about a couple finding joy in the little moments of their relationship: “Ain’t no need to complicate it / We both know that’s overrated / We’ve been there, we both agree, that ain’t our style.” Bubbly guitar picking in the background and whistling in the instrumental sections give the song a breezy, happy feeling.

The 1975 are back after taking a brief break post-release of their 2016 album I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it. Known for cryptic, sharp lyrics, they do what they do best on their newest single, “Give Yourself A Try.” It’s a tongue-in-cheek look at maturity and growing in 2018: “When your vinyl and your coffee collection is a sign of the times / You’re getting spiritually enlightened at 29.”

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