First Country: New Music From Eric Church, Carly Pearce, Cam, Kane Brown and More

Eric Church
Erika Goldring/Getty Images

Eric Church performs at LSU Tiger Stadium on May 28, 2016 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. 

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

Eric Church, “Through My Ray-Bans”

Another emotional turn from Church as he continues previewing material from his forthcoming album. It’s hard not to well up during this song, co-written with Luke Laird and Barry Dean, which details what Church sees when he looks out into a concert crowd -- especially since the song is dedicated to the audience he performed to at 2017’s Route 91 Harvest Festival, two nights before a shooter murdered 58 people. “Everybody’s got their arms around everybody else’s shoulders/ Guarding against the world outside like an army of Friday night soldiers/ The battle wages tomorrow but tonight we don’t give a damn/ Wish you could stay they way I see you through my Ray-Bans,” Church sings over a reverent, hushed track. There’s an innocence to the song that, as we know all too well, was quickly and irreparably shattered.

Kane Brown, “Worship You”

In his most romantic song yet, Brown declares his devotion to his wife, comparing her to a religion that he would have to praise, especially since she feels like a miracle in his life. For the simple video, Brown, his wife and their adorable daughter enjoy the nature surrounding them in Jackson Hole, Wy. The song needs no embellishment, which makes the plain video all the more striking.

Carly Pearce, “Next Girl”

Pearce’s spunky warning to the next girl her ex dates now comes with a video with attitude to match the song. At the bar, Pearce runs into virtually every bad date trope possible, from the guy obsessed with his car, the one who sends unsolicited sex pics after hassling her for her number, and the men who are old enough to be her father, but still think they have a chance. Lest you start to feel to sorry for the guys she’s spurning, they are utterly oblivious to their obnoxiousness even up to the very end -- which makes the clip even more fun.

Cam, The Otherside

“It’s not much time for you / It’s been decades for me,” Cam sings a few seconds into her sophomore album, The Otherside. Although the country singer-songwriter has been a constant presence in Nashville since breaking through on her debut album Untamed, that project was five years ago now, and Cam has experienced a label reshuffling and a healthy dose of artistic growth since its release. The songs on The Otherside are sturdier than those of its predecessor, with frequent collaborators Tyler Johnson and Jeff Bhasker helping Cam to convey her turbulent experiences while still letting moments of light break through -- see “Classic,” a charming new single that’s far more spontaneous-sounding than the album’s long gestation period would suggest. -- JASON LIPSHUTZ


Kip Moore, “Don’t Go Changing”

In his new video, Moore and his band perform the chugging rock track, featured on the deluxe version of Wild World, at five independently owned clubs across Nashville with no audience. To further drive home the point that clubs are suffering tremendously during the pandemic, the atmospheric video opens and ends with Moore interviewing Chris Cobb, the owner of the vaunted Exit/In, one of Nashville’s most beloved large clubs, who tells Moore the club has gone from 20 shows a month to none in the pandemic and had to lay off more than 50 staffers. The video ends with information on how to donate to (Music Venue Alliance Nashville), to support independent venues through these serious times.

Tyler Braden, “Secret”

New Warner Music Nashville singer/songwriter Braden follows “Love Is a Dead End Road” with this look at the dark side of a small town where secrets stay hidden… until they don’t. “It’s just another secret that everybody knows,” he sings, as he runs through various scenarios afflicting the small town’s denizens -- ranging from substance abuse to homelessness to an unwanted pregnancy. Convincingly delivered.

Emily Hackett, My Version of a Love Song

Hackett, a member of CMT’s Next Women of Country class of 2019, shines on this six-track EP that seamlessly straddles the boundaries between country, pop and Americana. Shimmering album opener “Hangovers & Heartbreak” shows off Hackett’s floaty, airy vocals, while “My Version of a Love Song” is an uptempo joyous blast to love. Things take a dark turn on “Handle,” as she deals with a man who from whom she’s a little too hard to handle. On the EP closer, “Expecting,” she questions motherhood and how to know when -- or if -- it’s the right time to have a child. Strong from start to finish.

Buddy & Julie Miller, Lockdown Songs

Americana royalty Buddy (best known as producer for Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, John Fogerty and Willie Nelson) and his singer/songwriter wife Julie have spent their time in quarantine crafting this chronicle of current events. Like folkies of yore, they are fearless in their recounting of these troubling times, from the searing anti-Trump screed “When You Go Down” to the poignant ode to John Lewis, “The Last Bridge You Will Cross” and Julie’s raw, ragged reading of names of Black Americans killed by law enforcement on “Their Names.”

Ben Rector, “The Thanksgiving Song”

Other than Adam Sandler’s comedic salute to Thanksgiving, there’s a paucity of tunes paying tribute to the November holiday. Nashville singer/songwriter Rector fills the gap with this poignant piano ballad, reminiscent of a Bruce Hornsby track, that looks at all that Thanksgiving traditionally means -- traveling back home to see family, watching football, sitting at the kids table -- before bringing us back to the present, where it’s a very different holiday during a pandemic. “We’ve made it through, I do believe, the longest year in history,” he sings. Yet even though many people will not be able to see loved ones this year, Rector still reminds us to give thanks for the blessings that surround us amid the darkness.