Ryan Welton

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Ryan’s Playlist No. 3: The Rise of Maren Morris + DMB that Needs a Re-listen + New John Prine!

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We’re already four days into August, and I’ve failed to post my July music list. Egad! For those of you new to the blog, each month I Shazam everything that really catches my ear, and then I re-listen to the music and write about the best.

The goal is to introduce everybody to at least one new awesome song, band or artist. It’s also to help me remember the songs that comprise my memories, remembering why I loved them at the time.

I’m certain I’ll achieve that this go-round. The theme this month is a lot more female. Not on purpose, but I’m glad it was. When my wife Kristi asked me if there was a theme to my picks for July, I replied that it felt like I had more women on this list. The first among them is already a pretty big star and I think she’s on the verge of elite stardom, Maren Morris.

She reminds me of Kacey Musgraves but with more of an edge. Who remembers “80s Mercedes” from 2016? Damn, this is fantastic:

I remember exactly where I first heard this song. It was in Buckeye, Arizona at our friends’ house on a spring training visit.

Here’s another great one called “My Church,” and imagine Shelby Lynne from 1999 on this one. Shelby’s “I Am Shelby Lynne” is one of the best albums I’ve ever owned, and Maren has perfected that sound, whether purposely or not.

But the tune that made my list for July is the best song I’ve heard from anybody in 2019. “GIRL.” If I could recommend one new artist to check out for anybody over 40 looking for new music, it would be Maren Morris. Dude, hand her all the Grammys. All of them. She’s the first artist since Amy that has made me want to stop and listen to everything she’s ever done.

“GIRL” is from earlier this year, but John Prine’s “Lonesome Friends Of Science” is brand new. Just posted to YouTube, it’s from his new album called “The Tree Of Forgiveness.” Charming and smart, even if it sounds a ton like Jerry Jeff Walker. Easily the best song title of 2019.

Another tune is from the Funky French Playlist, the compilation of songs Kristi and I listened to on our honeymoon. This comes from indie pop duo The Darcys. This has a funky hook and fantastic production.

Karen O of the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs teamed up with Danger Mouse for this delightful lite rock vibe. Who else is totally hearing Nicolette Larson here?

This tune called “Bleachers” bleeds the boundaries of pop and country, but we were surprised to learn that Jillian Jacqueline is categorized country. This is smart pop in my book. It’s like the best pop music is coming from Nashville these days.

Speaking of which, laugh off this dude as bro country all you’d like, but Chris Lane’s “I Don’t Know About You” (again) is a fantastic, hooky pop song. My favorite part about watching the video on YouTube is the first comment, “Sounds like he’s trying to unlock her security questions for online banking lol.” Affected as the production might sound, this is a wonderful piece of songwriting. It’s like yacht rock with a country accent.

Speaking of yacht rock, can we all just admit that Art > Paul?

This next one is a song I Shazam’d from the car on my commute to Tulsa. Ronan Keating was part of an Irish group I’d never heard of called “Boyzone.” Love this. Catchy af. Vocally, I’m hearing a ton of Jude Cole from back in the day.

Speaking of back in the day, this is a tune from The Waitresses that we heard on “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” Of course, this makes me want to hear their famous Christmas song, but I can appreciate how awesome and identifiable their overall sound was. And how kick-ass their bass player is.

Not sure where I first heard South Carolina’s own Chaz Bear, recording under the name Toro Y Moi, but I loved it even more after watching the video. Quirky and catchy.

And I’m not 100 percent certain where I first heard Port Cities, although they’re another Canadian act who could technically be on our Funky Fresh Playlist. This is beautiful. They don’t need anything beyond a guitar and vocals.

And a couple of classics to end my July list. This is a Gram Parsons tune called “Wheels” recorded by Emmylou Harris. The harmony alone sucked me in. The lyrical picture painted kept me locked in.

The last song on this list caught my ear on first listen, but upon subsequent listens, I’m realizing that this is one of the better rock songs of the past 20 years. It’s got a message. It’s powerful. It was written and performed by an immigrant. And it requires the volume cranked.

Ryan’s Playlist No. 1: Canada & Beyond (Willin’ To Be Movin’ Edition)

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One of the things I noticed about Canadian radio on our honeymoon is that a lot of the songs we heard aren’t marketed in the States. Some for good reason, and others perplexing. A lot of the songs are in French; so that stands to reason.

But there was a lot I liked, and I love to share terrific music.

This isn’t the whole of the ‘Funky French Playlist’ as Kristi and I have called it, but this works in some of my favorites from Canada and adds a handful of songs I’m obsessing over during the past month. And I’ll start with the first, which I heard on Dwight Yoakam’s Bakersfield Beat channel on SiriusXM. It’s Linda Ronstadt’s famous cover of the Lowell George (Little Feat) tune called “Willin’.” I’ve listened to about 30 versions over the past couple of days, and hers is the best.

There is more soul in that song than anything on the radio in 2019. I’m pretty sure I own this album, too, and didn’t really even realize it. Not the first time that’s happened.

For what it’s worth, my second favorite version is Mandy Moore’s. I like the electric guitar and all although admittedly I’m having trouble juxtaposing ‘This Is Us’ Mandy singing a song I know came from the girl who sang “Candy.” Kidding aside; she’s super underrated vocally. Her “Whole Of The Moon” cover is one of my favorite songs.

Anyway, that’s not a Canada honeymoon trip tune. I’ll tell you when I get there. I’m knocking out my other recent musical obsessions first. This next one is a classic from Led Zeppelin that struck me while driving a few days ago. It struck me by how beautiful the verse is against the soulful, gritty rock chorus. It’s “What Is And What Should Never Be.”

This next tune I keep hearing on old early-1980s ‘American Top 40’ broadcasts. It’s a Commodores hit called “Old Fashioned Love.” Over the years it’s really grown on me.

OK, we’re almost to the Canada songs, but first a tune that stunned me Sunday as I was setting up Kristi’s Sirius XM subscription presets. I heard this song (“Raining In My Heart”) from Buddy Holly and had to do a double-take because, to me, it was akin to hearing the male version of Dinah Washington’s “September In The Rain.” Much respect to a long-gone legend whose discography was apparently much more broad stylistically than I ever would have guessed. This is beautiful.

Next up is Kacey Musgraves’ “Slow Burn,” whose craftsmanship really hits the ear upon second or third listen, especially the second verse. If you haven’t listened to the album, do. It’s wonderful.

Last on the not-Canada part of the playlist is a funky ear-worm from DNCE, the band headed by Joe Jonas. Want me to fight you? Disrespect the musicality of Hanson or the Jonas Brothers, either one. Between Nick’s “Jealous” and this, they’ve earned my listening time. This is as good a pop song as I’ve heard in years.

Now for the Canadian honeymoon tunes, the first of which is a rap that became our theme song for the entire trip, “Bonjour, Hi” from ST X LIAM and Mori$$ Regal. I have very little idea what they’re saying except for, “Bonjour, Hi,” which is the greeting you get in every Montreal establishment — and as you might be guessing, these cats are from Quebec. Love it.



So before we spent three days in Montreal, we stayed in Toronto for four. On one of our day-tours, we stopped in an Asian-food store and heard this K-pop tune from a group called Seventeen or SVT for short. The song is called “Mansae,” and I have zero idea what they’re saying. However, the music hearkens memories of early-90s pop and Jeremy Jordan’s “Wanna Girl.”

Side note: that Toronto store had the best, strangest candy selection of all-time.

We listened to a lot of CBC Radio while there, and I was a Shazam-using fool. This song translates to something like “As We Wait For Spring” or “As It Happens In Spring.” The singer, Jerome Couture, is a La Voix Season 1 runner up, the French-Canadian version of “The Voice.”

This is “Comme On Attend Le Printemps.” This song is permanently etched into my brain as a honeymoon song.

Francesco Yates is a kid we heard a lot of in Canada. Shades of MJ and Bruno, and we both wondered how soon it would be before he was a North American star. “Better To Be Loved” was the best tune we heard from him. Maybe consider him to be the funky Bieber.

Echosmith was a band that caught my ear a couple years ago with “Cool Kids.” I don’t know that I loved, loved this song, but their vibe comes off as a more-pop version of Paramore. And I 100 percent believe Sydney Sierota is destined for solo stardom if she wants it. This is “Over My Head.”

Color me among those who thought Mac Miller was musically gifted, highly so. This tune we heard in Canada was one of many examples I could provide — and it foreshadows the mental anguish that afflicted him. It’s called “Come Back To Earth.”

The last song for this edition of the playlist is called “Last Tango In Paris” from a French group called Gotan Project. It’s beautiful, and I was immediately struck by how much my mom would have loved it, especially when the chromatic harp (or what mimics it) comes in.

If you’ve got any music, new or old, I need to be listening to, add it to the comments below!

Featured photo from Ninac26 on Flicker.

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