First Country is a compilation of the best new country songs, videos & albums that dropped this week.
Carrie Underwood & Dan + Shay, “Only Us”
Led by soul-piercing vocals from Underwood and Dan + Shay’s Shay Mooney — and production from Dan+Shay’s Dan Smyers — this track from the Dear Evan Hansen soundtrack is a lush, string-filled ballad about letting love rule over past hurts and personal insecurities. “You don’t have to convince me/ You don’t have to be scared you’re not enough ’cause what we’ve got goin’ is good,” Underwood sings on the first verse, backed by soft piano. Mooney’s textured vocals lead the second verse, before their pristine pipes soar together on this elegant ballad.
Lauren Alaina, Sitting Pretty on Top of the World
On her third studio album, Alaina proves her talent in the writers room is as powerful as her enviable vocal range. She co-wrote all but one of this album’s 15 tracks, and in the process, welcomes listeners deeper into the highs and lows of her life since the release of her last full-length project, 2017’s Road Less Traveled. One of the project’s most vulnerable, sterling tracks is “It Was Me,” a languid, introspective look at the personal reasons behind a love gone wrong. Alaina penned the stunner alongside Hillary Lindsey.
Surfaces with Thomas Rhett, “C’est La Vie”
Thomas Rhett combines his smooth pop-country voice with the signature sounds of pop duo Surfaces for this easy singalong that pairs perfectly with a day filled with sand, surf and sun. Rhett and the duo’s Forrest Frank and Colin Padalecki sound right at home on this track’s lyrics about unwinding and taking time to be carefree, as this beach-pop track is backed by handclaps and meandering guitar.
Cody Johnson, “Son of a Ramblin’ Man”
One of two new tracks Johnson released today (the other being “Treasure”) from his upcoming Human The Double Album (out Oct. 8), “Son of a Ramblin’ Man” was written by Vince Gill and previously featured on Gill’s These Days album. In Johnson’s hands, the song’s devil-may-care lyrics and foot-stompin’ groove get amped up, offering a perfect musical vehicle for his urgent, often gritty vocals and his vibrant live shows.
Larry Fleet, “Stack of Records”
As the title track of his upcoming Joey Moi-produced album out Sept. 24, Fleet wraps his soulful voice around a heartfelt musical tribute to the artists and albums he grew up listening to. “If you want to know me, you gotta know what’s in my soul/ A little Bakersfield and Memphis and a whole lot of Muscle Shoals,” he sings. Fleet penned the track with Ben Hayslip and Eric Paslay. On his upcoming album, Fleet co-wrote every track, and will welcome artists including Jon Pardi and Jamey Johnson.
Ashland Craft, Travelin’ Kind
On her debut album, Craft cuts to the chase (and to the heart) as she blazes through 11 tracks of barroom ready, soulful, heart-on-her-sleeve songs. “I wasn’t made for the settlin’ down/ In a white picket fence water tank town/ I got a soul like a black crow flyin’/ I guess I always been the travelin’ kind,” she deadpans over the harmonica-laced title track. On “Mimosas in the Morning,” she prefers to stay in the moment of a romantic fling, pushing off talk of what’s to come until the morning light. This South Carolina native’s twangy, slightly scratchy vocals lend an extra layer of intense honesty to every lyric.
Adam Doleac, “Somewhere Cool With You”
Mississippi native Doleac follows his 2019 major label debut single “Famous” with this ode to getting away from it all. Sleek guitar wraps around a subtle, infectious rhythm as Doleac sings about a couple dropping everything to take a much-needed vacation. His limber vocals are earnest and laid back on lyrics like “I want to see what you look like without a worry in the world on your face/ I want to make love and memories.” Doleac penned the track alongside Josh Jenkins, Matt Jenkins and Jared Keim (who also produced the track).
Randall King, “Baby Do”
This Texas traditionalist’s latest, “Baby Do,” is rife with spacious, dance hall-ready instrumentation reminiscent of much-beloved ‘90s country. Meanwhile, King’s warm, polished vocals relate a time-worn storyline: He’s stubborn and rough around the edges, but she overlooks his foibles and loves him anyway. His new track follows his recent release “Record High,” and his 2020 four-song EP Leanna. King penned “Baby Do” alongside Brice Long and Brandon Kinney, with production from Bart Butler and Ryan Gore.
Jon Wolfe, Dos Corazones
Bolstered by recent releases including “Tequila Sundown,” Texas singer-songwriter Wolfe released his seventh album, Dos Corazones, on Sept. 1. Wolfe worked with producer Dave Brainard on this album, and went to the Chihuahuan desert to write the majority of the album’s tracks. In his latest song from the project, “Two Hearts in Terlingua” (which Wolfe penned with Brainard and Tony Ramey), Wolfe’s burly voice softens to tell a story of star-crossed lovers with a tragic end, the tale of “an old bandito who stole a young girl’s hand.”
Lily Rose, “I Don’t Smoke”
With irresistible pop flourish, Rose sounds as confident as ever on this track penned by Lalo Guzman, Michael Tyler and Daniel Breland, and produced by Joey Moi. In this new track, Rose does her best to get through a breakup, after discovering her lover is suddenly acting differently. “I’ve been going out and doin’ all the things I know you do/ Whatever makes it look like I’m getting over you,” she sings, deftly navigating the highs and lows of a suddenly shifting relationship.
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