The Boot’s Weekly Picks: Kaitlin Butts, Jordyn Shellhart + More
It's hard to believe we've already made it to February, but we're ready to ring in the new month with a fresh batch of great songs. Today we're back with another installment of The Boot's Weekly Picks, highlighting the best new tracks from country, Americana, and everything in between.
This week's list includes a powerful new music video from Kaitlin Butts, a thoughtful heartbreaker from rising artist Jordyn Shellhart and a twangy, ramblin' anthem from Coleman Jennings and the Roaddogs.
Keep reading to check out the latest installment of The Boot's Weekly Picks, and check back every Thursday for more great tracks curated by our contributing team.
Kaitlin Butts' "Blood" busts perceptions of what an abusive relationship looks like. The song, co-written with the Pistol Annies' Angaleena Presley, questions the toxic behaviors we put up with from people just because they're family. With her new music video, Presley hopes to help people recognize that we don't have to.
"If this is happening to you, leave. I don't care what they are to you, I don't care if you'll 'have nothing' if you leave them," she notes. "If someone around you belittles you, disrespects you, abuses you physically or verbally, you are much better off with nothing than being with them."
Butts' impassioned performance will raise goosebumps. -- Rachel Cholst
Jordyn Shellhart"Who Are You Mad At"
Rising artist Jordyn Shellhart has arrived with her long-awaited single, and it's a breathtaking heartbreak number. Written by Marc Beeson, Allen Shamblin and Shellhart, and produced by Cameron Jaymes, "Who Are You Mad At" is equal parts dreamy and haunting, with Shellhart's mesmerizing vocals taking center stage as she implores her livid ex to sort his emotions.
"Who are you mad at? / Who broke your heart? Who made you cry? / Who you tryna get back at? / Who are you lookin' at when you look in my eyes? / Am I a trigger? Am I a fuse? / On the wrong side of a line somebody else drew? / Who are you mad at? I don't think it's me I don't think it's me," Shellhart ruminates in the raw and pensive chorus.
One of Warner Music Nashville's newest signees, the promising newcomer has already penned numerous well-rounded story songs recorded by superstars such as Little Big Town ("Sugar Coat"), Cody Johnson ("I Always Wanted To"), and Kelsea Ballerini ("Secondhand Smoke"). With a fresh and enthralling debut single, the future certainly is bright for this Wyoming native. -- Jeremy Chua
Tami Hart"Thanks For Saying Hi"
Tami Hart has made a name for herself in the punk and riot grrl scenes, touring with Le Tigre when she was just 16 years old. Her upcoming EP, Thanks For Saying Hi, certainly has those punk influences, but they've been toned down to honor her South Carolina roots.
"I started writing and recording my songs at 16 years old as a means of survival and escape from the trappings of a very conservative upbringing in South Carolina," says Hart. "Today, there is such an exciting resurgence of queer voices in music and especially folk and country-tinged post-punk, and I am so very energized by it. I felt that the timing was right to peak my head out and say hi again."
On the title track, "Thanks For Saying Hi," Hart's voice hitches in ways familiar to Sleater-Kinney and Kathleen Hanna fans. Sonically, the band has a punk-rock attack even as it romps through a surf rock-style groove. Thanks For Saying Hi will be out on April 7 via Cruisin' Records. -- Rachel Cholst
Delaney Ramsdell"Wishful Thinkin'"
Up-and-comer Delaney Ramsdell has dropped her first new song in nearly five years with "Wishful Thinkin'." The plaintive number finds Ramsdell reflecting on all she wants to be and have in her life, only to realize it's all been "wishful thinkin'."
"I wrote this song 3.5 years ago about wishing for a different reality in a relationship. I felt caged in and had a hard time feeling like myself," notes the Texas native in an Instagram post.
"But I know it's wishful thinkin' / And I know it's day dreamin' / And I'll do my best, smooth my dress, put my dishes in the sink / And put away my wishful thinkin'," goes the heart-on-my-sleeve chorus.
As Tammy Wynette notes, "Sometimes, it's hard to be a woman," and Ramsdell's latest is her way of saying, "second that, ma'am. I couldn't agree more." -- Jeremy Chua
Helene Cronin"Just a Woman"
"Just a Woman" is just one of many stunners in Helene Cronin's album Landmarks, out this Friday, Feb. 3. The song illustrates Cronin's gift for narration. Each verse details a different era in history, all while calling a central theme home: there is a lot more work to do when it comes to women's equality.
Cronin's rich singing voice is enough to catch one's ears on its own, but the song swells to truly divine heights with the aid of Wendy Moten, Vicki Hampton, Heidi Newfield and Shelly Fairchild. The choir has a gospel feel, a reassurance that triumph will arrive sooner rather than later. -- Rachel Cholst
Coleman Jennings and the Roaddogs"Highway Man"
Coleman Jennings' voice basically speaks for itself. Its rich character and the twangyness that comes as a result of Jennings' emphasis on his head voice is as American as a song about four wheels and the open road. The Roaddogs bring it home with rock-solid playing, hitting the sweet spot between country and rock.
"Highway Man" is replete with nostalgia, a tinge of sadness, and a celebration of rugged individuality. -- Rachel Cholst
Payton Smith"Missed the Boat"
Payton Smith is meshing heartbreak with an age-old idiom in his new song, "Missed the Boat." The soaring mid-tempo tune finds the singer reflecting on the times he failed to cherish his ex-girlfriend and the good fortune he once had with her.
Instead of opting for a tear-soaked stripped-down production, Smith, who co-wrote the track with David Lee Murphy and Jeff Garrison, enlisted Chris Farren to dream up a live show-ready sound with soaring guitar lines and thumping drumbeats, making it a perfect breakup anthem. -- Jeremy Chua