The year is 2015. You are at the club with your friends when you hear Justin Bieber’s synthesized voice sing “I need you, I need you, I need you the most” over the speakers and everyone in the crowd screams in excitement. The producer behind the Grammy Award-winning song, “Where Are Ü Now” is Thomas Wesley, better known as American DJ, Diplo. If you were a betting man/woman, you would have never guessed Diplo would drop a country-inspired album, but here in 2020, we don’t know what to expect anymore. Diplo Presents Thomas Wesley, Chapter 1: Snake Oil released today (May 29).
Although raised in Miami, Florida, Diplo was born in Tupelo, Mississippi – the same town in which Elvis Presley was born, so country music was always in his blood. He first dipped his feet in the industry when he released his remix to the popular Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus hit, “Old Town Road,” but received even more attention with his collaboration with country star, Morgan Wallen on “Heartless.” The song is being played on both mainstream pop and country radio and was recently certified platinum; it is becoming a staple in Wallen’s live set as well. A remix to the song with Julia Michaels was released earlier this year and all three songs appear on the new album. Michaels, who has been working with a lot of country artists as of late, also appears on the eighth song on the record, “Real Life Stuff” with Clever. Over an acoustic guitar and thumping bass, Michaels sings about wanting a real relationship with her significant other.
Although we would classify this as an EDM album, there are some real aspects of country on it. The Intro sets the mood and puts the listener inside an old western saloon. Orville Peck, the featured artist on the track, talks over an acoustic guitar, saying he wishes there was more trouble in this town. In “So Long,” Cam sings about a troubled man who acts independent but is really looking for love. Diplo adds produced-sounding string instruments to the chorus, including a fiddle, that is the perfect representation of this new sub-genre he has created.
“I know you’re fine doing life on your own / that doesn’t mean you should spend it alone / ‘Cause boy, you’ve been flying low for so long / but I think it’s time to give your heart / your heart what it wants”
Diplo gives us a brand new version of the classic square dance in “Do si do” and it’s no surprise he chose “The Git Up” singer, Blanco Brown, to feature on this track. Brown gives the dance’s instructions in a whisper and harmonica solos serve as the bass drops in the song. “Heartbreak,” featuring Ben Burgess, is probably the most country-sounding song on the album. Burgess paints the fictional picture of a whole bar strip closed by eight o’clock because no one needs alcohol to drown the pain and every song playing on the jukebox is a party song. To the average person, this isn’t an ideal situation. However, Burgess is content with his not-so-perfect life because “heartbreak makes the world go ‘round.” Instead of being upset about his break-up, he is going to raise his glass to the fact that there are better days ahead.
Paying tribute to your roots is a classic theme in country music and Diplo covers it on this album with “Hometown.” Zac Brown and Danielle Bradberry play the role of a couple who would like to get to know each other better. They decide to visit their respected hometowns together so they can learn more about each other’s pasts and make sense of why they are the way they are now.
“We’ll pump gas before we pay for it / on some backroad, ain’t got no name for it / Headlight shining ‘til forever /Promise you gon’ know me better”
Other more pop-inspired songs we love are “Lonely” with the Jonas Brothers, “On Mine” with Billy Ray Cyrus’ daughter Noah Cyrus, and “Dance With Me” with Young Thug and country star, Thomas Rhett. “Dance With Me” has some funk vibes to it, which are familiar to Rhett, as songs such as “South Side,” “I Feel Good,” “Country Gold” and “Don’t Threaten Me With A Good Time” are all funk-infused.
This album is a great representation of Diplo’s roots, showcasing his creativity, and how versatile these modern country singers are with their cross-genre collaborations. As we are beginning to see many artists blend the genre lines, we believe it will introduce fans of all music to the country genre and give them a taste of what makes our industry so special! Although we are unsure if any of these will be embraced by country radio as positively as “Heartless” was, we feel these songs will fit perfectly into the fun vibes that lower Broadway brings to Nashville and country music fans.
- Dance With Me
Diplo Presents Thomas Wesley, Chapter 1: Snake Oil is now available everywhere you buy or stream music. Take a listen below and check out more new recently released music on our ‘New Country Music’ playlist. Be sure to give the playlist a follow for your weekly new country music fix.
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