First Country is a compilation of the best new country songs, videos and albums that dropped this week.
Morgan Wallen, Dangerous: The Double Album
Immediately upon its release at midnight, Wallen’s first album in three years soared to the top of iTunes U.S. chart. It’s a fitting start for the superstar in the making and the album’s assured success will make it the country set to beat in 2021. Thirty tracks deep, the supersized Dangerous is a lot of Wallen, but it manages to never feel bloated. He’s already taken “More Than My Hometown” to No. 1 on Hot Country Airplay with the retro “7 Summers” on the rise. The first half is more reflective as Wallen, who co-wrote 16 of the 30 tracks, takes on failed relationships, including on the catchy opening track “Sand in My Boots,” duets with Chris Stapleton on “Only Thing That’s Gone” and covers Jason Isbell’s sultry “Cover Me Up.” (It shows the high level to which he’s regarded by his musical heroes-now-peers that the album ends with a previously unreleased cut from Eric Church.) The second half amps up the party by highlighting in blinking bright neon Wallen’s small town and southern roots on tracks like “Rednecks, Red Letters, Red Dirt” and the lowbrow, funny “Country A$$ Shit.” Wallen primarily sticks to only a few lanes -- primarily heartache accompanied by alcohol and fishing and partying accompanied by alcohol -- but he travels them with a remarkable command of his craft for someone only on his second album. When he reaches further, such as on “Livin’ the Dream,” about the suffocating isolation that burgeoning fame brings, he shows off his true, seemingly limitless, talents.