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First Country: New Music From Maddie & Tae, Kenny Chesney, Lee Brice & More

Maddie & Tae
Carlos Ruiz

Maddie & Tae

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

Maddie & Tae’s long-awaited sophomore album The Way It Feels is available now. The follow-up to 2015’s Start Here, the country duo have lived a lot of life over the past five years. After their previous label Dot Records closed in 2017, Maddie Marlow and Tae Dye were left with uncertainty. They channeled these emotions into the project’s vulnerable 15 tracks, including their second single from the album, “Die From a Broken Heart.”

In addition to Maddie & Tae’s The Way It Feels, countless new songs dropped on Friday (April 10). Kenny Chesney marks his return with the reflective “Knowing You” from his upcoming May 1 release Here and Now, while newcomer Larry Fleet tugs on the heartstrings with his brand of “blue-collar gospel” country music on the heartfelt “Where I Find God.”

Lee Brice also unveils the rhythmic “One of Them Girls,” while American Idol alum Laine Hardy shares a bit of his hometown with the music video for “Ground I Grew Up On.” Meanwhile, Avenue Beat release a song apt for the current coronavirus pandemic fittingly titled “Thank You Anxiety.”

Below are several new tracks to spin this weekend while continuing to practice social distancing at home.

Avenue Beat, “Thank You Anxiety”

Avenue Beat share the all too relatable “Thank You Anxiety” in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Penned by the trio’s Sami Bearden, Savana Santos and Sam Backoff with Summer Overstreet, the track highlights the band’s stirring harmonies alongside timely lyrics and slick beats. “Thank you anxiety/ For making me scared of everything/ For unnecessarily over thinking what I’m thinking/ Every time I think about something that I don’t wanna think about,” they croon on the chorus.

“Anxiety can be scary and difficult to be upfront and honest about. It’s something that we deal with and have had to learn how to work through,” the band said in a statement. “One thing that has really helped, is knowing that other people are experiencing the same feelings. Our hope with sharing ‘thank you anxiety’ is that it makes everyone feel a little less alone, especially during these crazy times.”

Kenny Chesney, “Knowing You”

Chesney’s booming vocals shine on “Knowing You,” a nostalgic tune that has the country singer looking back on old love. Penned by Adam James, Brett James and Kat Higgins, “Knowing You” is a vivid country waltz that fits well in Chesney's catalog.

“When I heard it, ‘Knowing You’ knocked me out,” Chesney says. “It was such a classic kind of country song you don’t hear any more, and it was so pure. And then, the idea you’re wishing the best for the other person, kind of smiling, knowing just what they’re doing and thinking, ‘Yeah, go enjoy the moment...’ is something the best people in our lives make us feel.”

Laine Hardy, “Ground I Grew Up On”

Hardy takes fans back home in the music video for his stirring new story song “Ground I Grew Up On.” The Louisiana native’s first taste of new music since winning American Idol last year, “Ground I Grew Up On” paints the picture of a laidback country life driving backroads while the singer lets his surroundings teach him how to be a man.

“What I love most about this music video is, it is spot on what I love to do and how I grew up, hanging with all my buddies on the river and just having a good time,” Hardy says. “I hope that it helps people in Louisiana and the whole country in this crazy time we're all going through together. Hope it reminds people of the fun we will be having again soon.”

Larry Fleet, “Where I Find God”

Newcomer Larry Fleet offers solace during the difficult times with the inspiring “Where I Find God.” Fleet’s emotive vocals shine on the uplifting ballad that details where he finds peace when life gets tough. Fleet penned the song with Connie Harrington during their first writing session together. The picturesque video was filmed on Lake Martin in Eclectic, Ala., and stars his wife, Phebe, and seventh-month-old son, Waylon.

“I have played this song out on the road and it seems to hit people just the way it hit Connie and I," Fleet says. "I’ve seen big burly grown men cry, and I’ve had people talk to me about where they find God after hearing it. To me, there’s no better feeling than that. I find God every time I look at my beautiful wife Phebe and little boy, when I’m in the woods hunting, or even just driving down the road. This is my interpretation of ‘blue collar gospel’ and it’s true to me. I hope this song helps people as much as it has helped me.”

Lee Brice, “One of Them Girls”

Brice follows the success of previous No. 1 single “Rumer” with the rhythmic “One of Them Girls.” A song that details the complexities of a woman playing hard to get, Brice’s warm vocals coupled with foot-stomping production and soaring guitar accompaniment impress.

“I just love that the title could easily come across with a negative connotation at first,” says Brice of the song he co-wrote with Ashley Gorley, Dallas Davidson and Ben Johnson. “But, it’s so very much about that girl that all of us—deep down, at the end of the day, at the end of our lives—really hope to have loving us.”

Maddie & Tae, The Way It Feels

Maddie & Tae’s long awaited sophomore album The Way It Feels showcases the duo’s breathtaking harmonies and vivid storytelling. The women previously told Billboard that each track on The Way It Feels represents the album’s ongoing theme of love, loss and redemption. Album opener and love ballad “Everywhere I’m Goin’” showcases the power of love while breakup anthem “Bathroom Floor” and the confessional “Tourist In This Town” highlight the ups and downs of a relationship.

All the emotions felt in a relationship are embodied throughout the excellent project with highlights including the sultry “My Man,” heartfelt “Trying On Rings” and flirtatious “Write a Book.” The duo’s depth as songwriters is further showcased in the standout “Water In His Wine Glass,” emotive “Lay Here With Me” featuring Dierks Bentley, and deeply vulnerable “Ain’t There Yet.” Despite many aching ballads, Maddie & Tae’s humor remains intact with clever album closer “New Dogs Old Tricks,” the only song the pair didn’t write themselves.

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