Grady Spencer specializes in smart, nuanced country that also rocks hard. Photo courtesy of Grady Spencer.

Give a hand to Grady Spencer. He’s a songwriter and a frontman who works in a genre — country music — that tends to favor reductive redneck tropes over emotional nuance, and yet emotional nuance is what he does best. He has a new album due out Jan. 28, 2022, and the lead-off single is about going to therapy. Not in a metaphorical, party-in-a-cornfield way. Like literally, as in naming his song “Therapy’s Good.”

Wait has to do with the exciting turn his life took a couple of years ago, when he decided to quit his long-time construction job and make music his career, only to be sidelined with the rest of the world by the pandemic. Per that theme, “Therapy’s Good” relates how his decision to follow his dreams came after admitting to himself that he needed to get some things off his chest to a professional. “Did I tell you ’bout the time I went crazy? Whole world was on my mind,” he sings over the crunch and snap of an overdriven guitar and a gated-reverb snare, the sort of arena-riffic bedrock on which Mellencamp songs are built. Who hasn’t felt this over the past two years?

In the aftermath of 2020’s emotional rollercoaster and the disappointing doldrums of the year that has followed, “Therapy’s Good” is a welcome mantra.


I don’t know where in the minefield that is the modern political discourse Grady Spencer proverbially treads, but therapy is an experience every person across the political spectrum should consider, if for no other reason than to maybe dial back the rage and find a way to empathize with the people who root for the other team. If it can help a songwriter take himself seriously enough to be one professionally, what can it do for you?

Give Spencer’s new tune a listen (I caught it on Spotify) and give talking to a professional some thought.

And since we’re on the topic of feel-good country songs, Bubba Bellin put out a few singles this year (including a new version of “Timberline” he just dropped that reminds me of “Seminole Wind” in all the best ways), the standout of which is a track called “Weather Out the Storm.”

I talked to Bellin back in August about the song, in which he injects a boppin’ ’90s-country vibe with a nice dose of ’70s wah-wah funk. Bellin spoke effusively about his love for soul and R&B, as well as for the sonics specific to ’90s country titans like Vince Gill and Randy Travis, and both of those fit pretty seamlessly in his songs. If you’re in the mood for something new that reminds you of what you were listening to back then, add Bubba Bellin’s new tracks to that playlist. — Steve Steward


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