The best music of the week: Shawn Mendes, Dwight Yoakam and more

By Nicholas Jennings

As music columnist for, each week I’ll bring you my selections for the best and most notable new music, albums you’re going to want to add to your collection plus a five-song playlist to try out. Happy listening!


Shawn MendesHandwritten
The Toronto 16-year-old is no longer just a viral sensation, singing covers for millions of followers on social media. Mendes’ debut album proves he’s also got the songwriting chops, with emotional ballads like “This is What it Takes” and “I Don’t Even Know Your Name” joining his previously released hit singles.

Reba McEntire - Love Somebody
Reba's albums appeal to a fan base beyond country music because her songs offer such a refreshing take on different subjects. The Grammy winner’s latest is no exception. From the humorous “Livin’ Ain’t Killed Me Yet” to the heartfelt “Enough,” a duet with Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles, there’s something for everyone.

Dwight Yoakam - Second Hand Heart
Dwight has long been a country rebel, defying Nashville’s conservative stereotype with his stylish update on honky-tonk tradition. Only he would deliver a rockabilly rendition of “Man of Constant Sorrow” and evoke the Byrds and the British Invasion in new songs like “She” and “Believe.” In other words, Yoakam remains a thoroughly modern hillbilly.

Whitney Rose - Heartbreaker of the Year
The country spitfire teams up with the Maverick’s Raul Malo on her latest album, an irresistible collection of covers and originals. Malo, who produced, joins her on a twanging, Roy Orbison-tinged rendition of the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby,” while Rose gets sassy on “The Devil Borrowed My Boots,” a devilishly catchy number.

The 50th annual Academy of Country Music Awards, which takes place Apr. 19, is shaping up once again to be the Miranda Lambert Awards. The “Automatic” singer, who has 18 trophies to her name already, including a record five in a row for Female Vocalist of the Year, leads this year’s event with eight nominations. She’s the only woman up for Entertainer of the Year and faces off against the boys for top album and single honours as well. In the female vocalist category, she’s the odds-on favourite to beat relative newcomers Kacey Musgraves and Brandy Clark. Co-hosted again by Luke Bryan and Lambert’s husband, Blake Shelton, this year’s show will see performances by just about every major Nashville star, from Reba, Garth Brooks and George Strait to Miranda, Sam Hunt and Eric Church. In the hardware department, the closest category to call is Vocal Event of the Year, which pits married couple Tim McGraw and Faith Hill up against Miranda and hubby Blake, each nominated in competing duets with Ashley Monroe and Carried Underwood respectively. Nothing like a little marital rivalry to stir things up.


Don't miss a beat with HELLO! Canada's Daily Hits newsletter, your daily dose of royal and celebrity news, fashion, weddings and more. CLICK HERE to sign up for free!