In their latest single, the sunny “Cancun,” country-rockers Russ Still and the Moonshiners offer us some of their most intoxicating grooves so far, and if you’re as much of a honky tonk fan as I am, it couldn’t be arriving at a better moment than now. The summer of 2020 has been unlike any other in recent memory for a myriad of reasons, but in terms of compelling country crossovers, the market has been saturated with far more duds than studs – up until the release of this most recent studio cut from Russ Still and the Moonshiners. Built on the back of a rhythm that could slice through even the thickest of fog in the name of shedding some summer sunshine on the dancefloor, “Cancun” is a swinging number sung from the heart.
The vocal that Still gives up from behind the mix here is smoky and rich, harmonizing with the instrumentation in a way that I can’t imagine another singer replicating even if they tried. This isn’t to say that he’s somehow changing the game for country music moving forward – far from it – so much as he is imprinting a signature sound on this track. He’s got a lot of honest grit in his delivery, and though it’s a bit edgier than what the mainstream would usually call for, this could be what makes his performance in “Cancun” as memorable as it is. Still isn’t letting anything hold him back from going hard after the melodies, and his moxie is something that the young rookies in this genre could really stand to learn from.
There isn’t a lot of low-end presence in the mix, and yet the swing of the grooves is perhaps heavier than anything I’ve listened to on the FM side of the country dial in the last few months. Structurally, this is a lean and mean composition that just so happens to be adorned with layer after layer of melodic thrusting, but nothing ever sounds explicitly complicated or overproduced to such a degree of feeling saccharine or disingenuously experimental. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from listening to some of the older tracks in the Russ Still and the Moonshiners discography lately, it’s that this is a band we can count on for giving us truly authentic performances, and in this sense, “Cancun” is on par with everything they’ve produced in their career.
You don’t have to be a big country-rock fan to dig what Russ Still and the Moonshiners are putting together for fans in their new single, but those who keep up with the indie realm of the genre that exists well outside of Nashville city limits definitely will want to give it a spin sooner than later. “Cancun” is a burly beat anthem that has all the charisma it takes to make even the most discriminating of critics into a countrified dance fiend – if only for about three and a half minutes time – and that alone makes it an amazing find this season.
by Bethany Page