Memphis-born, Nashville-residing Grace Askew calls her music “bluntry”: a compound of blues and country, it’s the perfect moniker for hashtags and such, but anyone who knows a thing or two about Lightin’ Hopkins would agree that the blues have been country and country’s had the blues since way before this onetime “Voice” contestant took the stage with her smokey rasp, leather drawl and moody swamp guitar that strings the oozing syllables together on a thrilling tightrope. However you need to package it, Grace makes music with a restless attitude that paints scenes as much as emotions, centered around a voice that uses lyrics for both palpable power and pure sonic impact – sometimes you hear what she’s saying, sometimes you can only feel it on her debut LP Scaredy Cat. From the slinky, trad-vibes of “Out on Your Front Steps” to the buttery blues of “Cinnamon,” it’s as worthy of being called “bluntry” as Grace is worthy of more than simple categorization. While we’re listening to Grace, check out what she’s currently spinning in her Nashville Five, below.
Five Songs I Can’t Get Enough Of by Grace Askew
1. “Taro” by Alt-J (Album: An Awesome Wave)
This song has been such a wonderful meditative piece to listen to on my long walks everyday, or anytime I’m driving and want to clear my mind. As a whole this album is seamless, but recently I’ve become obsessed with “Taro,” the second-to-last track. It sets the tone for a multitude of emotions, from peace to ecstasy to pensiveness to power. The entire spectrum of emotion is brought forth in this one song.
2. “Why Not Me” The Judds (Album: Number One Hits)
Talk about the good ‘ole days of country…which wasn’t all that long ago. This song just takes me back to when women ruled the charts and simplicity in production was still popular. I love the melody, the message, and of the power in the Judd sister’s voices.
3. “I Need a Dollar” Aloe Blacc (Album: Lift Your Spirit)
There was some movie I first heard this song in and kept trying to remember to look it up and figure it out who it was…then one day I heard it in a commercial and quickly pilled the ever-popular music whiz app, Shazam. And Shazam! I discovered “I Need a Dollar!” Aloe’s voice reminds of the voices of artists from the golden years of Stax and Hi Records, but his modern twist and catchy groove have me hooked and yes…I need a dollar too.
4. “It Won’t Be Long (and I’ll Be Hating You)” – Amber Digby (Album: The World You’re Living In)
I first heard about Amber through a famous local radio DJ’s country music show on WEVL (Bashful Bob) who spins artists from the golden years of country. Although he does artists from back in the day, Amber is still very much alive, young, and tours constantly. One of those tour dates collided with mine when we were both booked to perform at the annual Du Quoin State Fair. I was thrilled to finally get to see her perform, meet her, and get a picture/album signing. It was so hopeful to see a younger artist keeping the sound of traditional country alive. “It Won’t Be Long” is an amazing rendition of a Johnny Paycheck song and Amber gives it a truly sassy and satisfying female perspective. That album hasn’t left my truck’s stereo since last August!
5. “South” – Blackie and The Rodeo Kings (Album: South)
I have played this song for countless numbers of friends and family members after hearing it on the Jim Lauderdale show on XM Outlaw Country one day. It’s kind of like The Band meets The Byrds and it has been the perfect accompaniment for my journeys down a long stretch of highway.