First Country: New Music From Luke Bryan, Maren Morris, Zac Brown Band & More

Luke Bryan
Jim Wright

Luke Bryan

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

As Father’s Day approaches, we have a pair of songs that salute dads and their children, plus an array of other titles to take you into the weekend.

Luke Bryan, “Build Me A Daddy”

Here’s your tearjerker for the day especially for anyone whose father is no longer here. Following his latest No. 1, “One Margarita,” Bryan returns with a song that couldn’t be more different. Bryan hits every sentimental spot possible as he sings of a young boy who asks a shopkeeper if he could “build me a daddy,” since his father, a soldier, has died. It sure would put a smile on his mama’s face if he could walk back through the door with his reconstituted dad. This one feels like a movie in the making. The shot of Bryan with his two sons at the end will bring a smile through the tears.

Zac Brown Band, “The Man Who Loves You Most”

Recorded in quarantine and debuted on John Krasinski’s “Some Good News,” the new ZBB track is a tribute from a father to his daughter and reflects Brown’s experience raising four daughters. Such songs can often be treacly, but ZBB walks the fine line beautifully here advising his daughter to believe in herself, go see the world, but always remember that her biggest fan is her dad.

Maren Morris, “Just For Now” and “Takes Two”

While Morris’s “The Bones” has taken up permanent residence on Billboard’s Country Songs chart, she releases two previously unreleased songs to tide her fans over. “Just For Now,” originally recorded for Hero and co-written with her husband Ryan Hurd and the late busbee, is a swaying tune about a love that may turn into something permanent or could be fleeting. Sometimes you don’t have to put a ring on it…or even fix breakfast the next morning. On the other side of the coin is “Takes Two.” Co-written for Girl with Sarah Aarons and Greg Kurstin is a plinky pop tune with a bit of an R&B twist about how it takes two “to love like this and I can’t quit.”

Luke Combs, “Lovin’ On You”

Combs’ latest from What You See Is What You Get namecheck some of his favorite things like Brooks & Dunn, which is appropriate because this catchy tune feels like a fun throwback to the ‘90s and something that the duo would have taken straight to No. 1. That’s likely what’s about to happen here for Combs.

Gabby Barrett, “Footprints on the Moon”

https://open.spotify.com/album/4cmpIM02XY8eUglCh5rljD?si=nHL7l0VqTnitekcTBrmG6w

Barrett is on a roll right now following her recent No. 1, “I Hope.” She returns with this inspirational pop, guitar-driven song about believing you can do anything you want to. It’s not likely that anyone will confuse it with the 2012 Tracy Lawrence song by the same name, but fair warning, they are not the same song.

Ingrid Andress, “The Stranger”

Andress tries to recapture the woozy feelings of the first blush of romance in this ethereal track. “Sometimes I wish I didn’t know you at all so we could do it all over again and fall all over each other again,” she sings as the track swells.

Matt Stell, “If I Was a Bar”

Following his No. 1 with “Pray For You,” and rising single,"Everywhere But On," Stell comes back with  a song tailor-made for repeated listening on the corner jukebox in your favorite dive, “If I Was a Bar.” In the clever video, Stell plays all the characters (social distancing is making for some great creativity). There’s drinking, heartache and steel guitar…what else do you need for a great country song?

Gone West, Canyons

Fans of co-ed acts like Little Big Town and Lady A will dig Canyons, the debut album from Gone West, which includes Colbie Caillat who racked up a number of pop/AC hits as a solo artist. She and her bandmates hit a sweet spot here with such songs as current single “What Could Have Been” and “When To Say Goodbye.”

John Prine, “I Remember Everything”

The last recorded song from American treasure Prine, who died in April from COVID-19, is a beautiful ode to love. Performing in his house and accompanying himself on guitar, the tune , co-written with Pat McLaughlin, is a gorgeous final statement and a tribute to his songwriting prowess that made the simplest statement sound profound. “How I miss you in the morning light like roses miss the dew” takes on a new meaning following his passing.

Margo Price, “Letting Me Down”

Price debuts her new album, How Rumors Get Started with this fast-paced, guitar-driven track full of Tom Petty vibes (just try not to think of him when she sings “full moon.”). Co-written by Price about a pair of former high school friends who have “a way of letting me down,” repeatedly. Sturgill Simpson co-produced and sings backing vocals on this infectious track. Check out the cool social distancing video that features many, many Margos.

Also noteworthy this week: Walker Hayes fun, loping “Trash My Heart”; Craig Morgan’s tribute to first responders, “The Mask”; “Darkest Sky,” the debut single from Texas Hill (Craig Wayne Boyd, Adam Wakefield and Casey James), and Keith Urban’s duet with producer/DJ Dzeko for thumper “Both Still Young.”

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