This week, The Boot is launching a new feature highlighting recent favorites from country, Americana and everything in between. In every list, you'll find 10 picks from our contributing team that we think you'll love. Keep reading to check out the first installment of The Boot's Weekly Picks.
Tami Neilson brings her own soulful style to "River," the achingly beautiful classic from Joni Mitchell. Just in time for the holidays, the New Zealand-based singer-songwriter's cover features sparse instrumentation, which allows Neilson's smooth, emotive vocals to take the spotlight. - Lorie Liebig
Sam Outlaw"Popular Mechanics"
Opening with the instantly catchy sounds of a drum machine, the title track on Sam Outlaw's new record, Popular Mechanics, is absolutely and utterly genre-defying. For an artist who is known for his love of classic country rock, "Popular Mechanics" is a significant departure for Outlaw—and one we can't stop listening to. The entire album showcases Outlaw's incredible growth, but no track captures this newfound energy like "Popular Mechanics." - Chuck Armstrong
Austin Carr"i don't want to be your friend"
The heat builds slowly on Austin Carr's "i don't want to be your friend" -- but the first line is a slap in the face. "I'm pretty sure I hate you," the LA-based folk pop songwriter gently croons. With graceful steel guitars and razor sharp barbs, Carr's meditation on anger and forgiveness beautifully captures the emotional turmoil between those two poles. - Rachel Cholst
Rocko Wheeler"Take Shelter"
Rocko Wheeler never planned on making an album, but when the pandemic hit and he was living with his friend, Kyle Cox, it all just happened. Cox started producing a few tracks and eventually, Wheeler had a full-length record. Take Shelter is out today, and the title track is a beautiful snapshot of a one-of-a-kind record that would've never existed under normal circumstances. - Chuck Armstrong
Nashville singer-songwriter Erin Rae throws out the stereotypes in her recent single "Modern Woman." The track's music video, directed by Joshua Shoemaker, spotlights some an array of Music City's most talented and accomplished women. The track will be featured on Rae's third studio album 'Lighten Up,' which is set for release on Feb. 4, 2022. - Lorie Liebig
Amanda Shires"Blame it on the Mistletoe"
There's a slew of new holiday music rolling in this season, but one of the standout Christmas records so far this year comes from the one and only Amanda Shires. "Blame it on the Mistletoe," penned by Shires and Brittney Spencer, focuses on a love affair that blooms red like a poinsettia in December. It's enough to bring back a bit of sparkle in the hearts of anyone might be feeling a little lonely and "ho-ho-hopeless" this Christmas. - Lorie Liebig
Experimental Appalachian duo firekid's new track "Blue Roses" -- and its accompanying instrumental rendition -- bring a subtle melancholy into the band's rootsy, avant-garde sound. Inspired by both an ancient Chinese parable and a reference to the classic Tennesee Williams play The Glass Menagerie, it's a more traditional sound for the group that nevertheless incorporates the quirky ethos of Heidi Feek and Dillon Hodges. The music video's evangelical samples and creative incorporation of flowers from Feek's garden are another highlight. - Annie Parnell
Kaitlin Butts"Marfa Lights"
Kaitlin Butts' new single "Marfa Lights" stands as one of the catchiest country love songs I've heard so far this year. The talented singer-songwriter penned the track all the way back in 2018 and regularly performed it live over the years, but this is the first time fans have gotten to hear a studio version. With an infectious chorus that begins with the infectious "I'll be your cosmic cowgirl /If you'll be my moonlit sky," this is guaranteed to be stuck in your head for at least a few days. - Lorie Liebig
Willie Nelson & Family"I Saw The Light"
There have been countless covers of Hank Williams' classic hit "I Saw The Light," but few can do it justice like Willie Nelson can. This cover was recorded for his new record The Willie Nelson Family, out this Friday (Nov. 19). As the title suggests, Nelson recruited his talented family members for the project, including sons Lukas and Micah Nelson, sister Bobbie Nelson, daughters Paula Nelson and Amy Nelson as well as his longtime collaborator and harmonica player Mickey Raphael. - Lorie Liebig
Rainbow Girls"Santa Anna"
San Francisco trio Rainbow Girls (Erin Chapin, Caitlin Gowdey, Vanessa May) make an offering to Mother Nature in "Santa Anna," a track named for the windy weather phenomenon that affects California each autumn. The soft, string-laced folk track, perfect for fans of Phoebe Bridgers and John Craigie, also asks humanity to respond to climate change and the increasing prevalence and severity of climate disasters. It's "a prayer for us to reframe our relationship to natural disasters," says May -- asking listeners "to lean in and take responsibility." - Annie Parnell