Every once in while you come across a new artist that intrigues from the first listen. Kassi Ashton was one of those artists for me with her lead single “California, Missouri.” Jointly released through MCA Nashville and Interscope Records (you don’t see this too often), Ashton is a new artist just breaking onto the scene. One of her inspirations for her music is Chris Stapleton, who proved to her that she didn’t need to follow the set formula. It’s pretty clear in “California, Missouri,” a song with obvious soul, rock and pop influences. It’s a downtrodden song, but also has a tinge of light. The song is about Ashton’s hometown of California, Missouri, your average small town where dreaming big and standing out from the crowd is frowned upon. She expresses her disdain for growing up here, but at the same time can’t shake that small town pride as she pursues her dreams. It’s a conflicting of emotions that people from small towns all know too well. I enjoy the word play Ashton makes with the hook of the song, as it’s showcasing the duality of emotions and where she wants to be versus where she comes from. Ashton also brings a more pop-like delivery with her vocals, more soulful and powerful than your average country artist. It’s this juxtaposition of small town themes and variety of genres that makes “California, Missouri” and Kassi Ashton one of the most interesting new artists to keep an eye on in 2018.
Grade: Solid Mix of Styles & Commentary on Small Town Living
Songwriters: Kassi Ashton, Shane McAnally, Luke Laird
Among my first reviews on Fusion Country, I wanted to pick artists that exemplify what this blog champions and that’s innovators. Miranda Lambert is an artist who has consistently done this throughout her career and as a result is one of the most important artists in country today. On her latest album The Weight of These Wings you can hear a variety of sounds and styles throughout. Her newest single on that album is one of the best examples, “Keeper of the Flame.” I was thrilled to see this become a single, as it’s one of my favorites from the album. What makes this song immediately stands out is it’s integration of the synthesizer to create a quirky, light rock meets country sound. As a first time listener, it’s a sound that will stand out in the crowd of the usual sounds you hear from the genre. The song itself is about Lambert falling the trail blazers before her and now being the trailblazer herself for future artists. It’s a reminder that you can pay homage to the past, while also creating something new. The song has a strong anthemic feel that hooks you in too. This song is a prime example of good fusion country. And if you haven’t yet, check out the rest of The Weight of These Wings, as it’s a great album.
Grade: Pretty Good!
Songwriters: Miranda Lambert, Natalie Hemby, Liz Rose
Kacey Musgraves was one of several artists who inspired me to start Fusion Country, so naturally she’s my first review. I had the fortune to see Musgraves live about a month ago and I got to hear several of her new songs on her upcoming album Golden Hour. After hearing them, I could not be more excited for its release. This album should be on your radar. What makes this album so exciting is Kacey goes to whole new places sonically while keeping her excellent songwriting. One of the songs that excited me the most was her closing song, “High Horse.” Normally, Musgraves is known for her slower and more serious songs. But this is a certified jam and most bubbly song she’s ever done. This is a dancing song. The funky, bouncy melody grabs ahold of you and doesn’t let go until you want to hit the replay button. It’s essentially disco country. The song itself is dismissal to jerks who think they’re above the crowd and think themselves better than you. It also puts an emphasis on taking the high road, a nice reminder for all of us. Traditionalists are going to hate this, but don’t let their attitudes hold you back from enjoying this song (as this song says, don’t let them kill the buzz). Because “High Horse” is one of the most fun songs you’ll hear out of country music in 2018.
Grade: Fantastic jam country, dance music!
Songwriters: Kacey Musgraves, Trent Dabbs, Tom Schleiter
Hello! My name is Josh and I’m proud to introduce my blog Fusion Country. What is Fusion Country? Something brand new and exciting to the world of country music. Something that has been happening before your very eyes in the genre and you haven’t been able to put a name on it. Until now. The most exciting artists and albums in recent years seem to all have a common trait: the blending and fusion of country music with the sounds and influences of other genres to create sounds that are unique and truly pushing the boundaries of the genre forward. These artists are the true innovators that aren’t afraid of not conforming to tired old traditionalists and the stale sounds of radio. Intrigued? So was I, which is why I’ve created Fusion Country. If this kind of music excites you, come along for the ride as this site will be following all of the country artists pushing out projects that truly push the limits and take country to a whole new level of cool. Again, welcome to Fusion Country!