This Week’s News
Maren Morris‘ banner year isn’t over yet. On top of her CMA award for best New Artist and all the accolades she’s received for her breakthrough album “Hero,” she returned home to Arlington, Texas to receive another award.
According to Taste of Country, the singer received a proclamation declaring Dec. 27 to be Maren Morris Day in Arlington. Morris was presented with the honor, as well as the flag that flew over the state capitol building in Austin when she was named the CMA New Artist of the Year, in her mother’s salon in downtown Arlington.
“I had the honor of receiving a city proclamation by the mayor of Arlington that states today, Dec 27th, is Maren Morris day! So cool!” Morris tweeted.
On Tuesday, Morris announced all proceeds from meet and greets held after stops on her “Hero” tour to the fine arts program at her alma mater, Arlington Bowie High School.
This Week’s Best New Song
Speaking of Maren Morris, the quickest way to define Ryan Hurd’s pop-country singer-songwriter sound is that he’s kind of like the male version of Maren Morris. (They’re also dating in real life). Hurd has written for the likes of Blake Shelton, Tim McGraw and Jake Owen in the past and is now embarking on a solo expedition. His latest single from his debut EP features a different vocal cadence than most country songs, and is a modern take on the “doomed lovers” genre of sad country songs. It’s also really catchy.
This Week’s Worst New Song
Full disclosure: the stripped-down version of this song is actually really good, and if he’s smart, Young will find a way to get that version to the radio instead of this watered-down, drum-clapped take.
But the acoustic version of this song isn’t enough to save what’s clearly a niche-carving effort from Young. His earlier single, “Sleep Without You,” is all about how he can’t deal with one night away from his girlfriend while she goes out on the town with her friends. “In Case You Didn’t Know” (which will probably end up being 2017’s “Die a Happy Man”) is sweet and has all the right sentiments. It’s a great love song. But it sounds like it’s trying to emulate Thomas Rhett while also establishing that Young is country music’s new resident nice guy.
This Week’s Best Country Show in Austin
Willie Nelson & Family at ACL Live, Dec. 29-31. Such a popular draw that it has now become a three-night affair, this year-end engagement instantly became an Austin institution when The House That Willie Built opened in 2011. It’s a pricey ticket, but then so are many New Year’s Eve events, and this one is legitimately iconic. Willie always brings along top-quality support acts, too; this year, Ryan Bingham opens all three nights, with his son’s band Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real also on the Dec. 31 bill. Sometimes there are unbilled ringers, too, like when ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons played the whole show with Willie’s Family band a couple of years ago. (Although if we had to place odds on Gibbons turning up somewhere this time, we’d guess he might be one of the “special guests” promised at C-Boy’s on Dec. 30-31 where Mike Flanigin & Jimmie Vaughan are having a more intimate celebration.) $99-$157. 8 p.m. Dec. 29-30, 9 p.m. Dec. 31. 310 Willie Nelson Blvd. acl-live.com. — Peter Blackstock
This is the Country Music Roundup, a weekly blog where we’ll give you the latest news in country music releases and local country shows. For a more in-depth analysis of the genre and where it’s headed, check back with our weekly Gone Country blog every week.
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