Took ’em long enough: Billboard recently changed the name of its Folk Albums chart to “Americana/Folk Albums.” Yeah, yeah, it’s only a name, but it signifies the constantly growing popularity of the Americana category in music, an overarching genre that can include country, folk, blues, rock, jazz, soul and any other style that originated or evolved heavily in our fair land.
The greatest Americana records — like the inaugural Americana/Folk No. 1, Chris Stapleton’s Traveller — are ones that seamlessly incorporate as many of those rootsy styles as possible. Fortunate for North Texas music fans, there’s an abundance of solid Americana being produced by local artists. Three of the scene’s finest have new records out or coming out soon, all of which boast a wide range of sounds. Get to know them and their music:
The basics: Like his friend Leon Bridges, Crockett cut his musical teeth busking on streets. He performed for folks everywhere from Dallas to New Orleans to California. He seems to take pride and inspiration from the fact that he’s been a rambler up to this point. But he’s based back in the Big D now, leading up the June 4 release of his roots-stew sophomore album, In the Night.
Sounds like: Crockett has a smooth, Bill Withers-worthy croon, but he uses in a variety of ways on the new record, depending on the song. He tells it like it is and lets the brass boost him on “Silver Dagger” and “Baby 123.” He hops on the Zydeco train with “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights.” He goes full-on honky-tonk for “Look What You Done.” And there’s some old-soul influences in “Out of Bad Luck.”
The basics: Morris is a singer-songwriter who’s developed her soulful country sound and performing style since her teen years, starting out in her hometown of Arlington. Her move to Nashville in recent years and her smart, empowered original tunes helped her land a major label artist contract. The new full-length album, Hero, comes out June 3 on Columbia Nashville.
Sounds like: If you developed an addiction to the car-radio revival of the new record’s first hit, “My Church,” you will adore the rest of the album just as much. “Drunk Girls Don’t Cry” and “How It’s Done” are infused with similar melodic bliss and muscular backing instrumentation. Morris tells a fling that she’s not quite marriage material on the clever Bonnie-Raitt-esque track, “I Wish I Was.” And she’s got surefire pop-country smashes on her hands with “Sugar” and “80’s Mercedes.”
See her live: You’ll have to wait a few months to catch Morris opening for Keith Urban Oct. 14 at American Airlines Center. But you’ll probably see her pop up in TV appearances plenty before that. Her star is on the rise. Hear music at marenmorris.com.
Quaker City Night Hawks
The basics: They’re a fearsome foursome out of Fort Worth who come at Southern roots rock from many different angles. Their latest album, the instantly likable El Astronauta, arrived on Tidal, Apple Music and Spotify May 20.
Sounds like: The Hawks create a mean flow on El Astronauta, starting with the almost menacing autobiographical intro “Good Evening.” Then there’s the catchy, bouncy blues tune “Liberty Bell 7,” the Stone Temple Pilots-worthy alt-rocker “Mockingbird” and the stirring amalgamation of bass, guitar and harmony on “Medicine Man.” This record’s all killer.
See them live: There are plenty of chances coming up, including Fort Worth’s Lola’s on June 3 and 4, Grand Prairie’s Lone Star Park June 10 and Dallas’ Granada Theater July 24. Find out more at quakercitynighthawks.com.