The Boot’s Weekly Picks: The War and Treaty, Carter Sampson + More
We're back for a new installment of The Boot's Weekly Picks, highlighting the best new tracks from country, Americana, folk and everything in between.
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.
The War and Treaty"Ain't No Harmin' Me"
The War and Treaty's Michael Trotter Jr. and Tanya Trotter are celebrating the power of enduring love on their new song, "Ain't No Harmin' Me."
Co-written by the married couple, the enthralling release features their signature soulful harmonies and straight-from-the-heart lyrics about what a strong marriage can overcome.
"Love is the foundation of our new record and 'Ain't No Harmin' Me' reminds us that no matter what troubles are waiting around the corner...the power of love will pull us through," Michael notes in a statement. "We wrote this together as a personal testament to ourselves…we aren't afraid to face the hard times knowing we have the other by our side. It felt like an awakening for us, and I hope fans can feel that same energy when they hear it."
"Ain't No Harmin' Me" is the latest preview of the War and Treaty's forthcoming Universal Music Group Nashville debut record, Lover's Game. -- Jeremy Chua
Oklahoma stalwart Carter Sampson's new song "Gold" is a down-home testament to standing your ground. The song was inspired after Sampson had a "good cry" with her mother. As the chorus attests, the breakdown is only temporary -- Sampson's upbringing has given her the tools to be resilient.
The song's driving beat and questing steel guitar call to mind long stretches of empty highway, though in this case, the deserts reside in the soul. Sampson's new album, Gold, will be out on March 7. -- Rachel Cholst
The Wood Brothers"Pilgrim"
The Wood Brothers sing of slowing down to live in the moment and appreciate the world around you on "Pilgrim," the lead single from their forthcoming album Heart is the Hero, out April 14.
The words of wisdom come wrapped in the jaunty and off-kilter acoustic creations the band has become revered for, together exuding confidence that reaches its climax as the trio of Oliver Wood, Chris Wood and Jano Rix sing, "A soul takes it slow / Like a pilgrim he knows / He's gonna get where he's goin' / If he just stays on the path." -- Matt Wickstrom
Chicago outsider folk legends Freakwater have just signed to Fluff and Gravy Records, and we all get to celebrate. In honor of the new partnership, the band released "Fullerene," a song that landed on the cutting room floor during the sessions for their last album Scheherazade.
The song, named after a carbon molecule shaped like Buckminster Fuller's geodesic domes (or "Bucky balls"), was inspired by Catherine Irwin's reverie while staring into a fire. Like a dying flame, Irwin and Janet Bean's voices intertwine softly, each singer alternating in volume -- a mystical chemistry born of years of partnership. As the pair contemplate mortality, the song fades gently into the night. -- Rachel Cholst
Kelsea Ballerini bares her heart on her new ballad, "Penthouse." The plaintive ballad finds the newly-divorced singer reflecting on the quality of her past marriage and the facade they put up. Lyrically, it harkens back to the sentiment of Tammy Wynette's "I Don't Wanna Play House."
In that 1967 hit, Wynette recounts her daughter's words in the chorus, "I don't wanna play house / It makes my mommy cry / 'Cause when she played house / My daddy said good-bye." Here, Ballerini is the one who's "played house" for far too long, and she's reeling from that ache.
"We played the part five nights, but we were never there on the weekends, baby / We got along real nice, but when I left town, did you hate me? / One day, the curtain started coming down / I changed the second we were moving out / I guess wrong can look alright / When you're playing home in a penthouse, baby," she sings with unfiltered honesty over a piano-driven melody.
"Penthouse" is off Ballerini's latest surprise post-divorce EP, Rolling Up the Welcome Mat. -- Jeremy Chua
Brian Falduto"Skip the Step"
Brian Falduto brings the '90s back with the upbeat breakup song "Skip the Step."
The song showcases Falduto's singing prowess, with verses talk-sung in a deep baritone register. By the time Falduto gets to the catchy chorus, we hear the liberation in his voice as he gives into emotional release. The catchy guitars and thumping beat turn heartbreak into a dance party. After all, the only way out is through.
Falduto's next album will be out on March 10. -- Rachel Cholst
Mackenzie Carpenter"Don't Mess With Exes"
Promising newcomer Mackenzie Carpenter stands up for herself and all ex-girlfriends in her fresh song, "Don't Mess With Exes." The sassy breakup tune finds Carpenter striding with newfound confidence as her old flame tries to undo what can't be undone.
"Leave me alone / I'm not home / I'm out with the girls turned off my phone / And if ya wanna get in touch oh well / You're just gonna have to touch yourself / When ya got a heartbreak the size of Texas / You don't mess with Exes," the singer quips in the breezy chorus.
Named as one of CMT's 2023 Next Women of Country, Carpenter is slated to release her debut album with The Valory Music Co. later this year. -- Jeremy Chua
Equal parts somber and hopeful with a feeling of nostalgia running throughout, “Patty’s Diner” shows the full strength of Upstate’s four-part harmonies from Mary Webster, Melanie Glenn, Harry D’Agostino and Dylan McKinstry.
The fifth single from the group’s album, You Only Get a Few, tells the heartfelt story of a sister who grieves over the loss of her sibling Patty by trying to realize her dream of opening a diner.
Beginning on what seems to be a long shot not likely to happen, the song’s narrator slowly builds confidence and can start to envision making her sibling’s dream a reality, in turn providing the listener with the confidence to chase after their own dreams and ambitions as well, no matter how unrealistic they may seem. -- Matt Wickstrom
Tyler Booth"Real Real Country"
Tyler Booth salutes his upbringing and the unapologetic country living in his new boot-stomping song, "Real Real Country."
"Got that four-by-four shotgun by the screen door / Waiting if you tread on me / A dim porch light, 30 rack on ice / But you can damn sure guarantee / I'll be hauling my a-- to work / Sweating and playing in the dirt / We say what we feel, y'all, know the deal / You know around here we keep it real, real country," the Kentucky native professes in the loud-and-proud anthem that he wrote by himself.
Production-wise, Booth says "Real Real Country" boasts a sound borrowed from genres like "modern country to traditional country, and even country music to a little bit of hip-hop." -- Jeremy Chua
Day Dreems"F Natural"
On this psych-rock ditty, Day Dreems channels Bowie and the Beatles as they present cutting-edge truths. "F Natural" questions what is natural and what is sacred. Sometimes, people can even improve upon what nature has given us.
This jaunty trans anthem observes, "Your body's there for you, not a temple or taboo / Go ahead and change the things you want to."
Day Dreems' evident love of retro pop gives the song an extra sense of warmth alongside its cool defiance. This one is a special treat for fans of Aaron Lee Tasjan and Mya Byrne. -- Rachel Cholst
Ernest ft. Dean Dillon"What Do I Have to Lose?"
Ernest just dropped his anticipated new LP, Flower Shops (The Album): Two Dozen Roses, which features the heartbreaking "What Do I Have to Lose." Written by Ernest, Brian Kelley and prolific songwriter Dean Dillon (George Strait, Keith Whitley, Lee Ann Womack), the song finds Ernest ruminating on the sheer loss of a relationship that his whole world revolved around.
"After losing you / What have I got to lose / I'm finally free to lose my mind / One memory at a time / Of when I had you / Holding on to one last prayer / There it goes in cold thin air / I should've known it's too good to be true / Oh after losing you / What have I got to lose," he sings in the chorus over pedal steel wails. If you're searching for a plaintive country tune to cry to, this might be just what the doctor ordered. -- Jeremy Chua