First Country: New Music From Kelsea Ballerini, Alana Springsteen With Filmore, Dan Smalley & More

Kelsea Ballerini
Meredith Jenks

Kelsea Ballerini photographed on Feb. 13, 2020 at Mister Paradise in New York.

First Country is a compilation of the best new country songs, videos and albums that dropped this week.

Artists are in uncharted territory this week when it comes to album and single releases with the impact of the coronavirus. While in-person promotion has been halted for the time being, that’s not slowing down acts like Kelsea Ballerini from releasing her deeply personal third studio album Kelsea, out today (March 20).

Plus, newcomer Dan Smalley has dropped his first release since signing with Big Machine Records with the throwback country EP If I’m Being Honest, while Alana Springsteen teams up with Filmore for the poignant piano ballad “Think About You.” And there's a stunning new video from Miranda Lambert!

Additionally, Teddy Robb gives fans a taste of his forthcoming project with the seductive “Me On You” while Emily Hackett delivers an escape from all the coronavirus news with her dreamy "My Version of a Love Song."

Below are several tracks to enjoy after a very long week.

Alana Springsteen, “Think About You” feat. Filmore

Springsteen shares her smoky vocals on the soaring piano ballad “Think About You” about the difficulties of unrequited love. Filmore assists on the emotional ballad sharing his perspective about moving on in a new relationship while seeing his ex struggle.

“If you had told me a year ago I was gonna be releasing a song with Filmore this month, I probably wouldn’t have believed it,” Springsteen says in a statement. “The second I heard his voice on this song I fell in love with it even more! Such a dream collaboration for me and I can’t wait for the world to hear it.” -- ANNIE REUTER

Dan Smalley, If I’m Being Honest

Smalley introduces himself to the country world with the deeply confessional If I’m Being Honest. The four-song Keith Stegall-produced EP is country music at its finest, with the throwback feel of “Till Country Comes Back” complete with banjo and steel guitar accompaniment.

His confessional and vivid songwriting at times brings to mind that of Alan Jackson as heard on the reflective “Lucky” and vulnerable title track where he sings of money struggles and living up to what his wife sees in him. His charm and humor is further apparent in the tongue-in-cheek “Rich and Famous.” -- A.R.

Emily Hackett, “My Version of a Love Song”

“Who needs something new to listen to during your #stayhomechallenge?” Hackett asked on social media, and more than delivered with the catchy pop-country tune “My Version of a Love Song.” With hand-snapped rhythms and her sultry vocals, Hackett mesmerizes on the arena anthem. Turn this one up loud while you self-quarantine at home this weekend. -- A.R.

Kelsea Ballerini, Kelsea

There’s always been a little pop influence in Kelsea Ballerini’s music, but that’s most apparent on her self-titled third set. Kelsea features impactful beats and glittering production on songs like the opening “Overshare,” as well as a duet with her pal Halsey (“The Other Girl”). That’s not to say Ballerini has lost her country side: her twangiest track yet, the ‘90s-inspired “Hole in the Bottle,” is featured on the album; and “Half of My Hometown” features veteran hitmaker Kenny Chesney.

Perhaps most important to Ballerini, though, is how lyrically bold the album is, whether she’s talking about anxiety over just a guitar (lead single “Homecoming Queen?”) or making references to alcohol and sex for the first time (“A Country Song”). Needless to say, it’s pretty clear why Ballerini’s third album is simply Kelsea. -- TAYLOR WEATHERBY

Teddy Robb, “Me On You”

The “Really Shouldn’t Drink Around You” singer further introduces himself to the country community with the sultry “Me On You.” Written by Ryan Beaver and Deric Ruttan, “Me On You” highlights the singer-songwriter’s smooth vocals alongside ear-grabbing production. Singing about being high on a woman he loves, sultry electric guitar parts and a driving beat further accentuate Robb's captivating falsetto. -- A.R.

Miranda Lambert, "Bluebird"

Miranda Lambert’s latest single is about keeping hope alive in times of struggle, a message all too poignant in the current times. The video for the song, which Lambert premiered on Friday, brings its beautiful meaning to life by shining a light on a different kind of bluebird: Ms. Lambert herself. The Wildcard star stars as a cabaret performer whose act involves a bird cage, twirling around while singing “I'll keep a light on in my soul/ Keep a bluebird in my heart” in a bedazzled feathery gown, as the audience — and an actual bluebird — looks on. -- T.W.