Bust out the tissues and get ready to hear some tearjerkers. Episode seven of Real Country features songs that delve into heartbreak… and no genre excavates that sorrow quite like country. What makes a great heartbreak song? Says the esteemed Travis Tritt: “In order to be able to get a heartbreak song across, you have to be able to convey that emotion in the way that you feel it in your heart.”
How it works: three bands perform in Round One. The two bands with the highest audience score advance to Round Two. The winner of Round Two takes home $10,000, earns a spot at Stagecoach 2019, and moves on to the Real Country finale, where they will perform for a chance to win $100,000 and a show at the Grand Ole Opry.
Floyd’s career has seen ups and downs. The West Palm Beach-born singer-songwriter signed a record deal at age 11 and moved to Nashville at age 17 to become a songwriter. When not waiting tables on the side, she writes songs for artists like Ronnie Dunn, Kelly Pickler, and Ashley Monroe. She blesses the Real Country honky-tonk with a simmering rendition of a song got Grammy-nominated for as a songwriter: Monroe’s “The Blade.” Jake tells her he couldn’t help but smile, even though it’s a sad song. Travis is pissed he didn’t cut the song himself. “That’ll bring a tear to a glass eye right there,” he says.
Audience score: 3.34 stars
Shania’s pick: Micah Woods
Micah Woods grew up a gay black kid in a predominantly Christian neighborhood in Marietta, California. Now a resident of Brooklyn, he caught the ear of Shania one fateful day, when she walked through her Brooklyn hotel lobby en route to a soundcheck and heard him singing. Woods’ cover of a LeAnn Rimes song he’s been singing since he was 6 (!) showcases his unique, upper-register vocal delivery and wobbling boogie-woogie piano. Shania reflects on her own experience as an outsider in the country biz and tells him “different is good.” “I know this can be a very clique-ish town,” Travis adds, telling Micah do keep doing his own thing.
Audience score: 3.7 stars
Travis’s pick: Cody Purvis
24-year-old Cody Purvis hails from North Garden, VA and grew up listening to his parents play country music. Travis gravitated towards him because of his heartfelt singing; tonight, he serenades the crowd with a cover of Garth Brooks’ “The Dance.” An overjoyed Jake sings along to nearly every word. Travis affirms Cody’s unquestionable talent; Shania tells him that while he was the qualities of a professional singer, he should work on developing his own style.
Audience score: 3.32 stars
ROUND TWO (Guest judge: Sara Evans)
Floyd’s songs have gone on stage at the Grand Ole Opry, and she wants to go with them. She returns to the stage in a glittering suit to perform a Dwight Yoakam song called “Fast As You.” It’s a blues rock number that starts slow then revs up to a high-octane gallop and concludes, in Floyd’s case, with a pyrotechnic exhibition on stage. Jake and Travis reiterate their belief in her, and Shania remarks, “I was really entertained, honestly, and I wanted to hear more. You interpreted that beautifully.”
It can be tough to cover a classic; Micah accepts this challenge with a rendition of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You.” “This was a really cool interpretation of this song,” Shania told him. “You took a lot of risk doing those two songs. And we’re all impressed.” Sara concurred, remarking that Micah made the classic his own. Travis offered a bit of constructive criticism, adding that while Micah’s rendition may not have been technically flawless, it was “very emotional and personal.”
Jamie Floyd: 4.5 stars
Micha Woods: stars 4.3 stars
Winner: Jamie Floyd!