First Country: New Music from Carrie Underwood, Eric Church, Chris Young, Kane Brown and More

Carrie Underwood
 Scott Kowalchyk/CBS

Carrie Underwood performs on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Oct. 3, 2019. 

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

Carrie Underwood, My Savior

Underwood has always been public about her abiding faith, so it only seemed like a matter of time before she committed some of gospel’s most moving songs to record. The songs may be traditional, but Underwood adds country, folk and bluegrass elements, such as her bluegrass-tinged “Nothing But the Blood of Jesus” or the acoustic “Blessed Assurance.” Framing her beautiful voice with simple arrangements and instrumentation serves the song and the singer well. Gospel great CeCe Winans joins on a stately version of “Great is They Faithfulness.” A moving testament to her faith.

Eric Church, “Break It Kind of Guy”

In the last sneak peek into his April project, Heart & Soul, Church declares he is the kind of guy who “tells my eagle when to fly,” as he warns of the destruction he can gleefully wreak, whether it comes to matters of property or of the heart. Church and his longtime background singer/ace-in-the-hole Joanna Cotten have a blast on this driving tune, where Church breaks out his falsetto. Don’t say he didn’t warn you.

Chris Young & Kane Brown, “Famous Friends”

Once you get past the distracting Google plug at the beginning, Young and Brown turn in an engaging rooftop performance celebrating their “famous friends,” who are big fish in their small towns -- whether they are the local teacher, fire chief or football hero. The official clip adds in their real-life friends on their own red carpet for a fun twist.

Justin Moore, “She Ain’t Mine No More”

“I just ordered up a double to put a little hurry on this drunk,” sings Moore in this twangy, catchy mid-tempo winner, as he tries to drink love off his mind in the local honkytonk as images of the good times they had together evaporate. The issue is complicated by her presence in said honkytonk, and her determination to remind him of what he’s missing.

Chase Bryant, “High, Drunk and Heartbroken”

In fine Texas troubadour fashion, Bryant delivers a classic country tale of woe whose title tells it all. The opening salvo from Bryant’s Jon Randall-produced debut, Upbringing, coming July 16, is a six-minute blast that includes a nearly three-minute instrumental at the end, featuring Bryant and legendary guitarist Charlie Sexton. It’s a welcome return for Bryant, who scored top 10 hits in 2015 and 2016 and then dealt with some personal issues, including a suicide attempt, before returning with this strong second start.

Tyler Braden, “What Do They Know”

Braden follows “Secret” with this mid-tempo, anthemic ballad that wards off the naysayers who want to quash his dreams with their so-called good intentions. He’s ready to drive out of town, tear off his rearview mirror and use the negativity of others as fuel.

Andrew Jannakos, "Wine Country"

TikTok sensation Jannakos references country kings and queens of the past -- including Conway Twitty, George Jones and Patsy Cline -- in this sultry track, as he celebrates the end of the work week with his love, who is waiting for him at home wearing only his shirt.

Chevel Shepherd,  Everybody’s Got A Story

The season 15 winner of The Voice, Shepherd serves up her debut EP, which runs the full gamut of country tropes: from trying to convince mama that her boyfriend is good for her (“Good Boy”) to a tearjerker about a dying person’s last works to wait for the miracle (“The Letter”). Shepherd’s strong, expressive voice meets the moment for all, but is best supported of the rollicking title track and “Just Like The Circus,” co-written by the peerless Kacey Musgraves and Shane McAnally.

Julie Williams, “Southern Curls”

In this affecting ballad, Black country singer Williams gently recalls her memories of racism growing up, where “not all Southern girls are met with open doors.” Even after moving to Nashville, where she’s a member of the female writers collective Song Suffragettes, she still wonders when “singing for a crowd of blue eyes, will they want me to?” Like Mickey Guyton’s “What Are You Gonna Tell Her” and “Black Like Me,” “Southern Girls” addresses real issues in an inclusive way, and demands attention.

Pryor & Lee, “Good Ol’ Dogs and God”

There are two things Pryor & Lee reckon you can count on in life: dogs and God. In the sweet video featuring their best canine pals, Pryor & Lee enumerate the ways that neither our four-legged friends nor the man upstairs let us down and are just happy we’re around, even when we feel unworthy of their love.

Anna Vaus, “Girl In a Bar”

Vaus, an alumnus of CMT’s Next Women of Country 2019, pairs with Grammy-winning songwriter/producer Luke Laird for this wistful mid-tempo tale of a time when everything was going fine with her beau... until it wasn’t. Now she’s just a “girl in a bar,” left with her memories and chance encounters with her ex. Vaus’s sweet delivery recalls Taylor Swift, whose “Champagne Problems” she previously covered.

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