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First Country: New Music from Alan Jackson, Chase Rice & FGL, Maddie & Tae and More

Alan Jackson
John Shearer/WireImage

Alan Jackson performs onstage at the 51st annual CMA Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on Nov. 8, 2017 in Nashville, Tenn.

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

Alan Jackson, “Where Have You Gone”

Jackson, one of country’s true believers, is none too subtle in this lament for traditional country music to come back. “Soft steel guitar, oh how I’ve missed you / Words from the heart, let me hear you again... sweet country music where have you gone,” he sings, over a bed of steel guitar and fiddle. The first single from his first album of new material in six years finds Jackson with a new, deeper rasp in his voice that matches the song’s wistful mood as he finishes, pleading, “The airwaves are waiting, please come back home.” Radio is not likely to pay heed, but millions of country fans will undoubtedly find themselves nodding in agreement to the sentiment.

Chase Rice featuring Florida Georgia Line, “Drinkin’ Beer. Talkin’ God. Amen”

Rice and FGL gather 'round the fire pit to celebrate the simple pleasures in this easy-going collaboration. Not much happens in the video, other than exactly what they describe in the song title (except for the slight flame flare up to provide a modicum of excitement).

Maddie & Tae, “Woman You Got”

Maddie Font and Taylor Kerr, better known as Maddie & Tae, call out their foibles in this lighthearted, uptempo track about imperfections that only make them more lovable.

Shenandoah and Blake Shelton, “Then A Girl Walks In”

Shenandoah’s current album, Every Road, features the likes of Luke Bryan, Ashley McBryde, Dierks Bentley and Zac Brown Band collaborating with the ‘90s hitmakers -- but few are as perfect a fit as Shelton. Marty Raybon’s drawl has only gotten stronger over the decades, and Shelton’s voice is the perfect complement on this low-key charmer about thinking you have it all, until, you know the rest, “a girl walks in.”

Mitch Rossell & Trisha Yearwood, “Ran Into You”

Yearwood and Rossell, who wrote Garth Brooks’ No. 1 hit “Ask Me How I Know,” pair for an affecting, well-written ballad about running from everything in your life — whether it’s your hometown, love, God, and especially, yourself — leaving nothing but wreckage in the rearview mirror. But then, you run into the right one, and suddenly staying put seems not so bad. Rossell and Yearwood sound fantastic together and pour just the right of emotion into the song without ever overdoing it.

Adam Doleac, "Whiskey’s Fine"

Doleac takes his booty call song and turns it on its head with this video that completely re-imagines the song as  a mini-film capturing the love story between a couple during WWII. We see the young pair starting their lives together in a new house, but the war interrupts their bliss. The video toggles back and forth between the couple’s happier days and their separation, as he fights and she keeps the home fires burning. The song deserves to be a hit, so hopefully the video will bring new attention to the slow burner.

Canaan Smith, High Country Sound

Smith releases his first full-length effort for his new label, Florida Georgia Line’s Round Here Records, and it’s a thoroughly enjoyable effort. From the amiable opening track, “Grounded,” to the swaying, heartbreaking “Colder Than You,” to the swampy duet with Brent Cobb, “Catch Me If You Can,” to the gentle, autobiographical “Sweet Virginia” (about his home state and daughter), Smith seems to be effortlessly enjoying himself throughout.

Chrissy Metz, “Girl Go”

Of the many tracks that Metz has released over the past 18 months or so, “Girl Go” is the most radio-ready. Her sweet voice wraps around an ever sweeter song about encouraging a girl to follow her dreams, knowing she can always come back home, but she will regret not taking the journey.

Redferrin, “Wouldn’t Hurt”

Blake Redferrin knows it “wouldn’t hurt” to go out on the town and try to forget about his broken heart for a while in this clever country-to-the-core tale, but you know there’s zero chance he’s leaving his house.

Hope Dunbar, Sweetheartland

Dunbar will appeal to fans of Patty Loveless and Kathy Mattea for her ability to tackle real-world subjects with sharp-edged clarity: on the feisty “What Were You Thinking,” she takes her cheating, soon-to-be ex to task. But she saves some of her wrath for herself as well for accepting so little for so long, including loving someone who thinks a gift card to a gas station is a fitting Valentine’s Day present. She pays homage to folk music’s patron saint on “John Prine,” wishing she could steal one of his songs. Doesn’t everyone? The production is unpolished in all the right ways to emphasize emotion over technical proficiency.

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