First Country is a compilation of the best new country songs, videos & albums that dropped this week.
Drake Milligan, Dallas/Fort Worth
This Stoney Creek artist’s new album follows a successful run on the music competition America’s Got Talent, which culminated in a top 3 ranking for Milligan this week. Though he didn’t take home the top prize, he did introduce a massive audience to his sturdy voice and polished stage persona. He follows his AGT run with this 14-song collection, which features Milligan’s writer’s credit on every track. Dallas/Fort Worth is a steady mix of laid-back, ‘90s Strait inspired come-ons including “Save It For a Sunny Day” and “Hating Everything She Tries On,” the barroom burner “Tippin’ Point” and “Long Haul,” which finds Milligan incorporating an Elvis-esque vocal swagger, on a song that features Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member, James Burton, who played guitar for Presley from 1969 until Presley’s death in 1977. Vince Gill guests on the superb Western Swing tribute, “Goin’ Down Swingin’,” while the album closes with “Cowboy Kind of Way,” A worthy debut from this newcomer.
Dailey & Vincent, Let’s Sing Some Country!
Duo Dailey & Vincent are luminaries in the bluegrass world, having earned 35 IBMA awards altogether, as well as five Grammy wins. Having previously dipped into country music via an album of Statler Brothers classics, they’ve teamed with BMG to release a full-fledged, 11-track country album, which includes their renditions of songs such as “Young Man’s Town,” which originally appeared on Vince Gill’s 2003 album Next Big Thing, and “Hillbilly Highway,” from Steve Earle’s classic project Guitar Town, and Statler Brothers member Jimmy Fortune’s “Closer to You.” The album is a testament to the shared musical modalities between country and bluegrass, leaning heavily on the duo’s bluegrass stylings and airtight harmonies.
Callista Clark, “Brave Girl”
Clark aims this inspiring anthem directly at her fellow teenage girls, encouraging the ones afraid to speak up, be seen and take chances. As with her breakthrough, “It’s Cause I Am,” she exudes hard-fought confidence and wisdom. She offers one of her best vocals to date on this airy, heartening pop track, a playlist essential for anyone needing an extra shot of encouragement.
Scotty McCreery, “Nothin’ Right”
McCreery’s first release from his upcoming deluxe version of his album Same Truck, out Nov. 18, this dedication to be an overachiever at “doin’ nothing” combines snappy percussion, drawling guitar and McCreery’s warm vocals to make this a sure-fire fan favorite.
Conner Smith feat. Ryan Hurd, “Take It Slow”
Smith teams with one of his “Take It Slow” co-writers, artist-writer Ryan Hurd, for this stripped down rendering that enhances the lyrics’ detailing of a burgeoning romantic relationship’s enthralling, time-stopping moments.
Koe Wetzel, “Money Spent”
With this focus track from his newly released album Hell Paso, Texas mainstay Wetzel cements his status as a musical hell raiser, with this concoction of raging, grungy rock, careening guitar leads, and Red Dirt country sounds. The 13-track Hell Paso was recorded at Sonic Ranch Studio near El Paso, Texas.
Mike Ryan, “Die Runnin'”
On this one, Mike Ryan is remorseful over a fizzled relationship, still emotionally connected, and ready to reignite the passion with a former lover at a moment’s notice. The song’s propulsive percussion gives the track a disaffected air, elevated by Ryan’s urgent vocal. “Die Runnin'” is featured on Ryan’s upcoming album Longcut, out Oct. 28.