First Country is a compilation of the best new country songs, videos & albums that dropped this week.
Dierks Bentley, “Gold”
Dierks Bentley returns with a jam session vibe on his latest release, and his raspy vocal gives grit to these lyrics that find the sunshine even amid life’s darkest storms, or as Bentley sings, “It ain’t a smooth ride, life, it’s a winding road/ Yeah, it might be gravel but it feels like gold.” Bentley wrote the song with Ross Copperman, Luke Dick and Ashley Gorley, with production from Bentley, Jon Randall, Copperman and F. Reid Shippen. “Gold” also marks the first release from Bentley’s upcoming 10th studio album.
Chris Shiflett, “Long Long Year”
Longtime Foo Fighters member Chris Shiflett continues adding to his stellar catalog of rootsy, alt-country solo songs with this endlessly singable track, intro’d by a sparse-yet-blustering drum line. The track was produced by Vance Powell, and recorded during a trip to Nashville. “It’s been a long, long year, ain’t it,” Shiflett sings in the chorus, as the track simmers with relief and hope. The song also features musicians including The Raconteurs’ Jack Lawrence, as well as ace mandolin and vocals from Sierra Hull.
Shania Twain, “Not Just a Girl”
Twain, who is a nominee to be inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, returns to her pantheon of girl power anthems on her latest release, with an uptempo, pop-powered track, and a staccato vocal that makes the best use of Twain’s lower register. Twain wrote this song with Wayne Hector and Mark Ralph.
Wade Sapp feat. Colter Wall, “The Boys We Were”
On this intensely personal track from newcomer Sapp’s debut album, potent lyrics chronicle lingering nightmares that recapture the night Sapp’s brother went to prison. “Like a rattlesnake, life bends and shakes and fate ain’t always kind/ When your mouth is filled with fatal fangs and there’s poison in your mind,” he sings. Sonically, the song’s train-like rhythm harkens back to classic ‘60s country sounds, while he welcomes the arresting baritone of Colter Wall to lend greater gravitas to the track. This song is featured on Sapp’s debut album, Radio Check, out now. Nearly every song on this 11-track album is a solo write from Sapp.
Noah Thompson, “Stay”
This reigning American Idol winner covered songs by Carrie Underwood and Larry Fleet during the talent competition. Here, he transforms this 2013 pop hit from Rihanna into a smoldering ballad that blends elements of country, rock and R&B, and perfectly fits Thompson’s full-bodied vocal.
O.N.E. The Duo, “Stuck in the Middle” (Video)
This mother-daughter duo demands clarity in their romantic relationships in this pop-country track, fueled by irresistible melody, lush family harmonies, and strains of fiddle and steel guitar. The recently-released video, produced by Rebecca Adler and directed by Ford Fairchild, is set in an elegant garden party, awash in pastel pinks and blues, as the duo’s Tekitha and her daughter Prana Supreme join a host of fashionable friends for a time of sharing and gossip, around an elegant outdoor table setting.
Ingrid Andress, “Blue”
This stunning piano ballad showcases Andress’ cooly intimate voice at its best, as she meditates on how previous notions of the color blue — Bud Light neon signs, California swimming pools, Colorado skies — have been replaced as she looks into the eyes of her love. Andress wrote the song with Sam Ellis, Shane McAnally and Derrick Southerland, and produced the song with Ellis. “Blue” is from Andress’s upcoming album, Good Person, which releases Aug. 26.
Chase Rice, “Key West & Colorado”
A long trip serves as the perfect vehicle for a guy looking to shed the last remnants of a heartbreak, as he traverses not only physical miles, but emotional perspectives. “Somewhere between that sand and snow/ Salt in the air and salt on the road, I finally let myself let her go,” he sings, offering one of his most earnest vocal deliveries to date on this track he wrote with Brian Kelley, Corey Crowder, Blake Pendergrass, John Byron and Hunter Phelps.