If you love a good girl group, Runaway June (Naomi Cooke, Hannah Mulholland, and Jennifer Wayne) should be added to the top of your list. Seriously though, women bring a lot of power and dynamics to a group. What makes Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Sugarland, Thompson Square, and up and comers Temecula Road stick out, is the fact they are able to blend male and female vocals.
It’s always been interesting to see how well males do on country radio when there doesn’t seem to be much logic behind it. They don’t release power ballads and generally sound the exact same on every song, set to a different melody. Women however, constantly have to mix it up and step up their game to even be considered for airplay. They need something that makes them stick out to get around the gender bias, which makes them even better performers.
Ask me what male artist is singing on country radio, I probably couldn’t tell you. They’ve all started to sound the same. On the contrary, ask me which of the five female artists they are playing and I can name them. Maybe it’s because country radio only allows a handful of women on radio at a time, or maybe it’s because they truly do have such unique voices that sets them a part.
Runaway June brings a fresh mix and much needed blend of harmonies and power vocals to a song. Their recent single “Buy My Own Drinks” landed them in the top 5 and there’s no slowing down in sight.
Their next single “Head Over Heels” is the perfect choice as the follow up to their last single that found a woman stating she did not need a man to buy her a drink, carry her to bed, or pay for a cab… she’s very capable of doing all those things herself.
LISTEN TO “HEAD OVER HEELS”
“Head Over Heels” also has empowering lyrics of getting over someone who maybe treats you a little bit less than what’s deserved. To have the courage to not just act on the idea of being so in love you’re “head over heels in love” and think rationally.
We got good at the drunk dial game Let it go a little longer than it should You call me up, say “Head my way” Yeah, and I always would Wake up in your arms from the night before Pick my stilettos up off the floor A walk of shame out your front door But not no more
‘Cause these ain’t my late-night lace-up black leather shoes These ain’t my downtown dance-around waitin’ on you These ain’t my lonely cab ride one-night thrills These ain’t my you-get-drunk call-me-up and head over heels
Apart from catchy songs and empowering lyrics, Runaway June churns out energetic performances that will have them being ones to talk about for years to come.
Here’s hoping country radio continues to play their music. After all, pop radio doesn’t seem to have any issue playing females. Pop female groups have also been huge over the years, Spice Girls, 5th Harmony, Destiny’s Child, Little Mix, TLC…
Country radio has not seen a girl group in some time. Duos are more common but a female trio has not been seen since the Dixie Chicks and SHEDaisy. It’s been an area that has seriously been lacking.
Runaway June was recently seen performing at the 53rd annual CMA Awards during a Little Big Town song, “Girl Crush.”
They were most recently on tour with Carrie Underwood as part of her Cry Pretty tour. They are ones to keep on your radar and support! A part from being amazing vocalists, they are also some of the nicest people!
Editors note: if you don’t like reading long reviews about every song on an album, just go listen to the album and form your own opinions! If you want to know more about the inspiration behind the songs, keep reading!
It’s finally here! Country artist Kelleigh Bannen has released her debut album Favorite Colors after much anticipation! Usually when people say that phrase, the anticipation has maybe been building for a year or two, but for fans of Bannen, who first released her debut single “Sorry on the Rocks” in 2012, it has been a seven year anticipation!
Thankfully, Bannen has been able to release some EPs on top of her singles over the years, which has curbed the hunger for a full length album. However, fans have finally had that hunger satisfied with the release of Favorite Colors. There are fourteen ear-worm worthy tracks on the album that were all co-written by Bannen.
The album dropped on 10/11/19 and required several listens before a proper review could be written. The thing with anticipated albums, and any album really by an artist who means so much to the listener, is that the reader who is unfamiliar with the work really needs an honest review. That requires reflection and not just an article that gets whipped up to be one of the first reviews. It took seven years for Bannen to put out an album, the least I could do is take the proper time to consume the music, reflect and offer up as much of an unbiased opinion as possible.
A personal favorite track off the album is track 11 “Haters.” When Bannen revealed it was written during the beginning of her career when she released, “Famous,” it made sense. For some reason I feel like I knew this song existed and now it has finally been able to be brought to light. “Famous” is also a favorite previous release of Bannen’s, so I’m truly thankful this song found a home on this album. It’s lyrics still ring true today. I know in the beginning of her career, Bannen had trouble reading some of the comments people would leave on social media, especially on YouTube. She has since decided to not check her YouTube comments, but you can still find some witty replies on other social channels like Instagram.
Did you really take the time out of your day To rant about some things somebody didn’t even say I guess you’re really not that busy anyway yeah You’re pretty good at throwing little sticks and stones And yeah you got the guts when you hide behind your phone L-O-L it doesn’t make you less alone yeah, yeah
Do me a favor Sign it off Yeah see you later Ain’t you got something better to do Than sitting on your hashtags Stalking talking trash yeah What’d I ever do to you All you haters
Those lyrics can be true to anyone, which makes the song universal and timeless.
The album opens with “Damn, I Still Love You,” which only briefly mentions the subject as looking good in a suit and tie. The rest of the lyrics can fit either gender and those feelings of wanting to move on but somehow not being able to.
Hey old friend how ya been Almost didn’t recognize ya Dressed up in that suit and tie yeah Guess you’re all grown up Me I’m still chasing down a dream Keeps running away from me Yeah some things never change
Damn I still love you Even though I don’t want to Wish I could help myself But I can’t
“Deluxe” came with its own music video ahead of the album’s release and talks about love that’s a little extra. There’s a previous article about “Deluxe you can read below but to recap what was said then:
“Deluxe” has versatile melodies that can be played during a night out, to a lover, while getting ready, or even on repeat in the car if you can’t get enough. It’s everything a love song should be without feeling overdone. Share this one with a friend or listen while you’re missing that special someone.
“I just loved the idea for this song, about being a love with a little extra, and still being very relatable to so many people. I had the title for a while and finally was able to write and record it. I’m excited to be able to share it with my fans.”
– Kelleigh Bannen
“Boys Don’t Cry” is a unique take on how males react to a breakup. The premise is basically stop checking your phone and wondering if a guy is crying over you because that’s not how (most) men process things. Instead of sitting at home, eating a pint of ice cream, “boys don’t cry, they just get high.” It’s definitely a catchy song that will have you feeling slightly better about how your last relationship ended. Some things are beyond your control and instead of obsessing over them, it’s best to realize that men are men, they process things differently, they think differently and that’s probably why you broke up in the first place.
There’s a previous article that goes along with this song too!
“Boys Don’t Cry” is a cross between a breakup anthem and a letter to my younger self. At a certain point, you just have to decide to move on. If he’s not spending his time thinking about you, don’t waste another second of your life thinking about him. This song is about that, and it’s a lighthearted way to encourage your friends to get up, get it and start moving on,”
“Diamonds” comes next and was the final song released before the album dropped. The music video was a little steamy and featured Bannen’s first real on-screen romance. A line plays off The Beatle’s hit “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds.” In it Bannen casts off the need for drugs and insists that diamonds are the way she gets stoned (way up, like Lucy in the sky). It’s definitely a fun and catchy song, which helps keep the record light-hearted and playful.
“Your Favorite Colors” is a track that is already hitting close to home for some fans. A recent encounter had fan Amanda be reminded of a friend who passed two days after she saw Bannen performing this song. She asked Bannen to play the song during a Facebook live session and remembered it being about not knowing where love goes when it’s gone.
In the track, Bannen is reminded of a significant person in her life and with each memory a color is linked, be it the coffee black, the jeans blue, or the baseball diamond green. She shared with The Boot:
“The song is about a long goodbye, essentially, and realizing that you knew everything about somebody, and the only thing you didn’t know about them is why your relationship didn’t work and where it’ll end. So that’s heavy, but it’s one of my favorite songs on the record.”
The wonderful part about this song is that even though it was reminiscent of a seemingly romantic relationship, it’s also vague enough to be applied to any kind of relationship, whether it be a friendship, a family member. It doesn’t have to be about a break up, but just losing a person, the way it sparked memories for Amanda and the loss of a friend.
“The Joneses” is an upbeat and quirky song about the famous line “keeping up with the Joneses.” In it she sings about how they (The Joneses) keep their doors locked, but she keeps her fridge stocked with Blue Ribbon and good living! Sorry folks, she’s “too busy living in the moment, to keep up with The Joneses.”
“The Joneses” was previously released as a three song EP and made history to be played simultaneously on SIRIUS-XM
“Suit” is a song about that glow of a new relationship and instantly imagining your future with them. Singing about marriage can be special, endearing, heartbreaking and emotional. “Suit” takes a different approach with it’s witty lyrics about only being “official a few weeks.”
You could ask my daddy’s permission Or we could just ask for forgiveness I’ll get the get dress baby you get the witness But let’s not wait another minute
“Faith in You” is a very meaningful song to Bannen, as she has discovered the people in her life who lift her up when she’s struggling. It also serves as a love letter to fans in the sense that she wants them to know someone has faith in them. In a recent campaign that coincided with the album release, a limited amount of fans received hand written lyrics for this song.
“It’s (“Faith in You”) is really about the people you put your faith in when you’re in the middle of life’s uncertainty. When the things you turn to let you down, who do you believe in? Especially in the music business, there are so many dead ends — so many times when you wonder, ‘Is this when we call it?’ or ‘Is it over?’ You try to keep trying to fight for the thing you set out to do, but it’s the people that make the difference. Who you’re doing it with, and who’s waiting for you when you get home, who can pick you up when you feel defeated. It’s about the people you love. It’s also about the journey (life, a dream, whatever) and how that journey is really sacred when you’re doing it with the people you love.”
There are some more haunting songs on the album that add to the depth and many “colors” of the album. We’ll refer to these emotions as blue. “Sleeping Alone” definitely hits those heartbreaking tones, despite Bannen asking you not to shed a tear for her. It also has a strength in it’s haunting versus as she sings about realizing that despite the recent end of the relationship, it had really been over for a long time.
I got used to you not being in my head Just like I got used to you not being in my bed So Don’t shed a tear for me I’ll be alright I finally woke up and opened my eyes Even on the nights you were there by my side I’ve been sleeping alone for a long long time
“John Who” was one of the three previously released tracks on The Joneses EP and is an interesting song because of it’s complexity. During the repeating phrase “John Who” the listener feels empowered as they sing along, but it also has a sort of melancholy to it. Bannen sings about wanting a man that no longer makes her think of her ex.
I need a don’t look back kiss that stops me in my tracks Someone that makes me say, anytime I hear your name
John who, John who, John who
“Time Machine” was recently performed as part of Bannen’s TV debut on The Today Show where she shared “I guess I’ve just been thinking a lot about how our stories don’t unfold the way we think they are going to, or on the timeline. Sometimes, that just makes you that much more thankful for the opportunity.” The song, in a sense, parallels with “Your Favorite Colors,” only instead of talking about the colors that represent memories, the memories themselves are remembered. That happens so often when we go to a place that takes us back to a date we had there, or how certain smells can remind us of different people. As Bannen says “there’s all kinds of time machines.”
The third and final song of the trio of songs released in the earlier EP is “Happy Birthday.” While the song title suggests happier times, the song reflects on more somber moments of remembering someone on their birthday, even though they are no longer a part of your life. Wondering things like whether or not they got to sleep in or their grandmother sent them a card with $20 in it. Despite the relationship moving on, you can’t seem to forget that person and the memories you shared. It has definitely been a song many have related to over the years. Birthdays aren’t always happy occasions. They can also be a reminder of those we have lost, which makes this songs melancholy tone all too relatable.
The final song on the album, “Long Shadow” is another blue color moment. It not only has a haunting melody, but lyrics to go along with it. When you just can’t seem to outrun the memory of someone, no matter how far you get from them. You could be in different countries, but somehow they show up in your thoughts. Bannen has a way of evoking emotions through her voice and her song writing.
You cast a long shadow Even the highway can’t outrun Somehow you’re always standing Between me and the sun No matter how far You follow my heart
Regular readers of Variety Beat know that country artist and singer/songwriter Kelleigh Bannen is one of our favorite acts. We are still soaking up her debut album Favorite Colors that was released last month and will process its magnificence ASAP. A Nashville native, Bannen has been working towards her dreams of sharing her music with the world. This week, she had the opportunity to make her television debut on The Today Show with hosts Hoda Kotb and Willie Geist.
“Time Machine” was not a single Bannen put out ahead of the album release, but the song has a special meaning to her.
“I guess I’ve just been thinking a lot about how our stories don’t unfold the way we think they are going to, or on the timeline. Sometimes, that just makes you that much more thankful for the opportunity.”
Those words couldn’t be more true, as Bannen has been in the industry for the last decade working towards her dreams. Her TV debut comes much later than she originally thought it would, but that’s what made this moment so much sweeter. She doesn’t take anything for granted. She shared with People Now on their podcast how she used to think she would be the exception. When her label would tell her that it’s hard to get women played on the radio, she thought ‘that’s ok, I’ll be the exception.’
Bannen no longer thinks it’s ok to be the exception. “I don’t want my friends to be the exception, I don’t want Maren Morris to be the exception” she explained. She went on to say some progress has been made and that talking about it helps others realize there is a stigma. As for changes that can be made, Bannen explains that it doesn’t just boil down to one person or one thing, but it’s so ingrained in the system that it’s going to take time before change is truly evident.
Bannen hosted a facebook live on Thursday, 10/31 where she spoke about performing on the show and admitted she was so nervous. She also admitted that anyone looks good on tv because of the crew that puts them together. She even had people giving her a spray tan! Part of her appeal is her authenticity and honesty. She wasn’t afraid to reveal her true self as she often shares stories make up free (by the way, she’s still beautiful).
Before settling in Nashville, Pennsylvania native, Sarah Ryder found herself in Los Angeles. She had spontaneously entered a modeling competition and ended up winning! It was through that process that she was able to connect with people in the music industry and begin her journey of becoming a singer/songwriter. We had the opportunity to chat with Sarah about her new single “Another Fool” and what got her into Country Music.
Variety Beat: Hi Sarah, thanks so much for taking the time to allow us and our readers to get to know you a little better. Knowing about an artist really connects listeners to their music and really allows them to see the person behind the music. As someone who might be unfamiliar with your story, can you explain a little bit about how you discovered you wanted to be in the music industry?
Sarah Ryder: Thank you for having me! I discovered I wanted to be in the music industry at an early age of 8 years old. I had listened to a Tim McGraw song on the radio (on the radio in my room, my parents did not listen to country music). I was so taken by the melody and words. The seed was planted. Going to see George Strait in concert when I was 16 solidified the hunger. It was at that point I had officially been “bit by the music bug” and there was no turning back. I knew I had to create songs that people connected with!
VB: You’re originally from Pennsylvania, but have also lived in California before moving to Nashville. What’s been the biggest take away from each place that has helped shaped who you are?
Sarah: I am so grateful for each place I have lived. Being in California, I was surrounded by good people. Talented people. It was such a positive experience writing music out there. One of my dearest friends at the time said, “Sarah we love you, and we will miss you…but your country lovin’ self needs to move to Nashville.”
VB: You started songwriting at age 8, what were your songs like back then? How do you draw inspiration for your songs today?
Sarah: At 8, I was learning about how words, when delivered with a good melody, can be so powerful. Music transcends words and melody though, it creates an era in your life forever. Your favorite songs when you are 16, when on the radio now, take you back to driving your first car, or dating your first significant other. My inspiration comes from creating something that has the possibility of being timeless. I look at people around me and their lives and draw from my own. I know that if I am honest and stick to the real truth in a feeling or situation, that many others will probably relate.
VB: You’ve been able to play at the Legendary Bluebird Café, what are some other bucketlist venues you would love to play at?
Sarah: Bucketlist venues are definitely The Ryman and The Grand Ole Opry! Also, I would have to add Red Rocks Amphitheater.
VB: You recently released your single and first music video “Another Fool.” What was the inspiration behind the song and what was the music video process like?
Sarah: The inspiration behind “Another Fool” was an organic situation. It was really just three married people chatting and not working at all haha. We got on the the topic of how the grass is never greener on the other side when it comes to relationships. All relationships come with their own issues, so might as well stay with the one you’re with!! Johnny Garcia (co-writer) overheard Loretta Lynn say, “why would I leave my fool for another fool,” at a show one time and never forgot her saying that. Years later, we used it in a song!
VB: What has been the most exciting part about getting to release music?
Sarah: There has been so much about releasing music that has been so incredibly exciting!! I think the best part is chatting with friends and fans about what they think of it (that can be scary too coming from Grandparents though haha). I have enjoyed relating to women especially on “Another Fool” lol
VB: You also have more music on the way, what can you tell us about that?
Sarah: We do! We have been writing up a storm and can’t seem to stop. There is a Christmas surprise coming at the end of the year, and everyone can expect more music from me in 2020.
VB: What message do you hope reaches your fans with your music and your life?
Sarah: I hope people can feel the no bull**** emotion/reality that I am communicating through music. This is the best way I know how to be honest. I hope that when I open up and share some pretty real life scenarios I’ve been through or observed, that someone else feels like they aren’t alone, and that they can get through whatever they are going through.
VB: Top 3 things to do when you have a day off.
Sarah: Hands down cuddle with my cats, go for a hike, and drink some good wine with people I love!
Some other fun facts about her:
She is a complete wine-o and hosts “Wine Wednesdays” live on Instagram
She loves Cats and has two of her own
One of her celebrity crushes is Timothy Olyphant (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, The First Wives Club)
Trisha Yearwood’s backing band makes up the majority of her band as well (same producer and lead guitarist, Johnny Garcia, is Sarah’s mentor)
PRESS RELEASE: In her own words, the past year was the toughest of Kalie Shorr’s life, with the tragic loss of a family member (sister), the forceful ending of a long term relationship and the struggle of finding her identity through it all. Channeling all of the emotions, she created a work of art that is both “deeply specific” and “universally relatable” as respected journalist Angela Stefano describes. Gaining both critical and commercial acclaim, Kalie Shorr, releases her debut full-length album, Open Book, today.
With the lead single, “Lullaby,” having received support by Bobby Bones on his Women of iHeartCountry show, its music video premiered online by Refinery29 and on television by CMT and CMT Music, as well as Saturday marking her 15th appearance on the Grand Ole Opry, the Nashville establishment has embraced the artist’s forward-thinking approach to creating music. Adding to those accomplishments, Rolling Stone’s Marissa Moss calling her “one of country music’s most promising new artists” and NPR’s Ann Powers tweeting that the album is “mainstream millennial/Z country that makes me think of Avril and Phoebe Bridgers somehow meeting and forming a consciousness raising group,” proves that highly-acclaimed music critics are taking notice of her unique style.
All 13 tracks were written by Shorr and she co-produced 10 of the tracks with Skip Black. Open Book is a dynamic experience filled with complex realities matched with raw musical and lyrical perspective, revealing a deeper look into Shorr’s unfiltered mind.
“For several years running, Kalie Shorr has been one of country music’s most promising new artists — for how she melds an appreciation of the genre’s roots with an unabashed love for emo and pop, for her cutting songwriting, and for how she’s made her feminism a vital part of her musical perspective.” – Marissa Moss, Rolling Stone
“With Open Book, Kalie Shorr channels both her inner Dolly Parton and her inner Alanis Morissette. She leans in to country music’s story-song tradition – and almost no detail is too personal to share – but her deeply specific verses intertwine with universally relatable choruses. High school me would have stanned this album hard (and that’s a high compliment!).” – Angela Stefano, The Boot
“Push past all the emotions Shorr leads with to find sublime songwriting and brilliant use of literary devices. The lyrics on this album, while at times unhinged, specific and shocking, are also perfect for who she is, right now. She has rare grit and the kind of courage they don’t manufacture on Music Row.” – Billy Dukes, Taste of Country
Respected rock music critic Craig Manning tweeted, “Big release day in general, but there are two records in particular that I very highly recommend,” and after touting Sturgill Simpson’s new LP, he went on. “The other is the debut album, Open Book from Kalie Shorr which is like Red era Taylor Swift, plus A Mark, A Mission era Dashboard Confessional, plus the first two Avril Lavigne albums. ‘Lullaby’ is immediately in the pantheon of all-time great breakup songs.”
Shorr performed Open Book songs for the first time last night with her band at a private performance for fans and industry at Club Roar in Nashville.
Track Listing for Open Book: 1. “Too Much to Say” (Kalie Shorr, Robyn Collins and Ian Christian) 2. “Escape” (Kalie Shorr and Candi Carpenter) 3. “Messy” (Kalie Shorr, Jonny Shorr and Katie Stump) 4. “The One” (Kalie Shorr, Skip Black and Savannah Keyes) 5. “F U Forever” (Kalie Shorr, Candi Carpenter and Annie Wildgen) 6. “Alice in Wonderland” (Kalie Shorr and Candi Carpenter) 7. “The World Keeps Spinning” (Kalie Shorr, Skip Black and Robyn Collins) 8. “Big Houses” (Kalie Shorr, Skip Black and Savannah Keyes) 9. “Gatsby” (Kalie Shorr, Skip Black and Candi Carpenter) 10. “Thank God You’re a Man” (Kalie Shorr, John Caldwell and Robyn Collins) 11. “Vices” (Kalie Shorr, John Caldwell and Robyn Collins) 12. “Lullaby” (Kalie Shorr, Robyn Collins and Will Stone) 13. “Angry Butterfly” (Kalie Shorr, Simon Reid and Fred Wilhelm)
Shorr has been announced as the opener for music icon LeAnn Rimes on the multi-platinum selling artist’s beloved You And Me And Christmas Tour this winter. The tour kicks off in Waterloo, N.Y. on November 30 and visits 11 cities across the East Coast. (See full list of tour dates below).
Handpicked by Rimes, Shorr has built quite the resume in the past few years, becoming what Rolling Stone recently called “one of country music’s most promising new artists.” Since her SiriusXM Highway Find “Fight Like A Girl” in 2016 she has been named a CMT Next Women of Country, toured alongside Sara Evans and RaeLynn, been featured on NPR programs, PBS NewsHour and in features in Elle Magazine, Refinery29 and many more. She made her Grand Ole Opry debut in 2018 and has gone on to play the stage 15 times.
This is Rimes seventh annual Holiday tour, one that has become a holiday tradition for many. Attendees can get in the Christmas spirit as Rimes sings her hits along with timeless holiday classics.
Fans can still purchase a VIP experience with Rimes that includes meet & greet, prime seats and merchandise. General public tickets will be available starting July 26 (check local listings) via all of the venues websites and www.leannrimes.com.
You and Me Christmas 2019 Tour Dates: Nov. 11 – Waterloo, N.Y. – The Vine at Del Lago Dec. 2 – Pittsburgh, Pa. – Rivers Casino Dec. 3 – Morristown, N.J. – Mayo Performing Arts Center Dec. 5 – Bensalem, Pa. – Xcite Center at Parx Casino Dec. 6 – Atlantic City, N.J. – Hard Rock Atlantic City Dec. 7 – Warren, Pa. – Struthers Library Theater Dec. 10 – Athens, Ga. – The Classic Center* Dec. 11 – Augusta, Ga. – Miller Theater Dec. 13 – Franklin, N.C. – Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts Dec. 14 – Coconut Creek, Fla. – The Pavilion – Seminole Coconut Creek* Dec. 15 – Jacksonville, Fla. – Florida Theater *On Sale TBD