First Country: New Music From Sam Hunt, Ashley McBryde, Old Dominion & More

Sam Hunt
Connor Dwyer

Sam Hunt

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

The much anticipated sophomore album by Sam Hunt dropped today (April 3), and Southside proves that the best things in life are well worth the wait. Nearly six years since Hunt released his massively successful debut Montevallo, he returns with its equally appealing follow-up.

Ashley McBryde has also released her sophomore album, Never Will, featuring her adept songwriting and memorable storytelling while Americana singer-songwriter Ruthie Collins unveils her deeply emotional sophomore project Cold Comfort via Curb Records.

Meanwhile, Old Dominion aim to shine a light on homelessness in their heartfelt new music video for “Some People Do."  Thomas Rhett also offers some comfort with the uplifting “Be a Light” while Hot Country Knights provide much needed comedic relief with their hilarious ode to America, “The USA Begins with Us.”

Here’s some music to play this weekend while observing social distancing.

Ashley McBryde, Never Will

McBryde, the reigning CMA new artist of the year, proves why Never Will was one of the most anticipated albums of 2020. The singer-songwriter penned 9 of the 11 songs on the project, all of which embody complex characters with vivid storytelling. Songs like the driving “First Thing I Reach For,” suspenseful murder ballad “Martha Divine” and striking “Voo Doo Doll” enthrall with haunting vocals, mesmerizing guitar accompaniment and a pounding beat. Meanwhile, the reflective “Sparrow,” heartbreaking "Stone" and old time-y “Velvet Red” showcase the singer’s love for traditional country music.

It’s on anthemic title track “Never Will” that showcases McBryde’s perseverance in the genre as she looks back on the naysayers and promises to never give up. “The day that we recorded the song ‘Never Will,’ I told the guys that we were making a promise. We don’t listen to the noise, we don’t read the comments, we make cool music that we want to make and we hope you want to listen to. And that ended up being the name of the record,” she said on social media on release day.

Hot Country Knights, “The USA Begins With Us”

Hot Country Knights show off their patriotism in their latest release, “The USA Begins With Us.” The six-minute music video includes the ’90s-influenced band clad in USA fanny packs and sporting red, white and blue attire while they evoke their love of the United States.

“Now this morning I was checking the tag on my underwear to make sure it was mine…it was…there’s a little tag in there that says ‘Made in China.’ But I remember when those tags used to say ‘Made in the USA!’” frontman Doug Douglason says at the start of the song. “And that got me thinking...it inspired me to write this little song right here about twenty minutes ago…What I realized is the USA begins with US! It does! It actually begins with a U and an S!”

Old Dominion, “Some People Do”

Old Dominion have launched a campaign to raise funds for the homeless with the release of their new music video “Some People Do.” The clip features Jason Schneidman, celebrity men’s groomer, who was previously homeless. While he serves as a groomer for Old Dominion and other stars, in his spare time Schneidman helps out the homeless of L.A. by providing his grooming services.

The poignant video shows Schneidman grooming some of L.A.’s homeless with the help of Old Dominion. For more information on how to help, visit themensgroomer.com.

Ruthie Collins, Cold Comfort

Americana singer-songwriter Ruthie Collins released her sophomore record, Cold Comfort, on Friday. The 11-track project stuns with Collins’ mesmerizing vocals and enchanting musical accompaniment. Standouts include picturesque album opener “Joshua Tree” and the confessional “Cheater” complete with a driving beat, wavering pedal steel and emotive vocals. Album highlights like heartbreak ballad “Cold Comfort” and the intriguing “Bad Woman” further showcase Collins’ versatility with smoky vocals and memorable guitar riffs.

Sam Hunt, Southside

Hunt returns to the spotlight with his standout sophomore album Southside. While anthemic singles “Kinfolks,” “Body Like a Back Road” and “Downtown’s Dead” anchor the project, Hunt lets his guard down throughout the versatile 12-track album. Confessional tunes like “2016,” “Sinning With You” and “Drinkin’ Too Much” showcase Hunt’s vulnerabilities while the sultry R&B rhythms of “Nothing Lasts Forever,” arena-ready “Young Once” and Webb Pierce-sampled “Hard To Forget” showcase his indelible ability to push genre lines while remaining very much in a lane of his own.

Thomas Rhett, “Be a Light”

Rhett released the emotive ballad on March 30, the same day as his 30th birthday. The soaring piano ballad was written in 2019 and features Reba McEntire, Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott, Chris Tomlin and Keith Urban. "Be a Light" has Rhett trying to uplift others with thoughtful lyrics. “In a world full of hate/ Be a light/ When you do somebody wrong/ Make it right/ Don’t hide in the dark, you were born to shine/ In a world full of hate/ Be a light,” they sing on the poignant chorus.

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