First Country is a compilation of the best new country songs, videos & albums that dropped this week.
Kolby Cooper, Boy From Anderson County to the Moon
After releasing the EP Boy from Anderson County last year, Texas native Cooper expands on that work with this full-fledged, 13-track project. In addition to previous releases including “Boy From Anderson County” and “Breaking News,” the album includes the intense, growling opening track “Are We On Fire,” which finds Cooper coming to terms with the fact that he and his lover are better off without each other. There’s also the singalong “Woke Up Hungover,” and the wisdom-filled, excellent track “To the Moon.” Cooper is a writer on every track on this promising release, which offers a blend of red dirt, rowdy rock and tender ballads.
Allison Russell feat. Brandi Carlile, “You’re Not Alone”
This earthy musical manifesto of support and unity originally appeared on Our Native Daughters’ 2019 debut album, one of the groups Russell was a member of before releasing her solo album Outside Child last year. Here, the song is revived for a stunning, celestial collaboration from Russell and Carlile. Backing the wondrously intertwined vocals of the two Americana music luminaries is a string arrangement from SistaStrings (including Monique Ross and Chauntee Ross) and Larissa Maestro.
Blake Shelton, “No Body” (Video)
Shelton’s new video sees the return of mullets, neon signs, flame shirts, line dancing, embroidered jackets, denim shirts with the sleeves cut off for a boot-scootin’ homage to the ’90s country vibe. Shelton, of course, sported an ultra-curly mullet early on in his career, and now that country fans are flocking to classic ’90s country tracks, this song and video should fill that nostalgic void.
Corey Kent, “Hood of That Car”
Laid-back cool. This newcomer is already making waves at country radio with his hit “Wild as Her,” and he follows it with this ode to picturesque young love. Grungy guitars and driving percussion propel with an insatiable pace, though at times they threaten to overwhelm Kent’s vocal. Still, this is one catchy groove.
Kane Brown, “Go Around”
Brown just celebrated his latest Billboard Country Airplay No. 1, “Like I Love Country Music,” but he’s got an expansive slate of songs waiting in the wings, as evidenced by his recent release “Grand” and his latest, “Go Around.” Here, he meets a potential lover and is intent on seeing where the chance meeting could lead. “You ain’t gotta worry ’bout showing them cards/ ’Cause I ain’t in the business of breaking hearts,” he assures. Though the production sounds muddy at times, it still features a sizzling fiddle section, which is nicely juxtaposed against Brown’s cool vocal delivery. “Go Around” is from Brown’s upcoming album, Different Man, out Sept. 9.
Allie Colleen, “Feels Like”
Jangly, airy acoustics wrap around vivid lyrical imagery here, as she celebrates a love as uplifting and comforting as the childhood family memories she holds dear: fresh sheets from the dryer, her mother’s hand in her hair, or feigning sleep as her father carries her inside after a car ride. Colleen possesses a warm vocal, with sweet-yet-fierce nuances that are all her own. Her newest release follows her 2021 project Stones. Colleen penned the track with Kimberly Atwood, with production by Lee Brice, Jerrod Niemann and Cody LaBelle.
Eric Church, &
Just over a year after the release of his triple album Heart & Soul, Church gives all music lovers a chance to hear the three-part project’s full middle album, &, which was previously available only to members of Church’s fanclub, the Church Choir. The six-track & album includes the poignant “Doin’ Life With Me” and “Through My Ray-Bans,” a tribute to the unity he sees in the audience each night as they find common ground through music. Essential listening.
Bailey Zimmerman, “Where It Ends”
He gave his heart away and was made the fool — but in this searing, churning track, he’s determined to put a stop to the heartbreak. Former Billboard Country Rookie of the Month Zimmerman conveys the angst of his anger and betrayal effortlessly with his raspy-yet-youthful vocal. The new track should further elevate the chart-raiding successes of Zimmerman’s previous songs, “Rock and a Hard Place” and “Fall in Love.”
Sunset West, “Cold Hearted”
Multi-talented brothers Stephen and Justin Kirk have spent over a decade working in both pop and country circles as singers, songwriters and producers. In addition to the siblings working with country artists including Ernest, Justin has worked with Jason Mraz, while Stephen is known as a producer and writer for two of group BTS’ hits, “Permission to Dance” and “Butter.” Now, the siblings have reunited as duo Sunset West. This dancefloor-worthy, rhythmic pop-country track features plenty of vocal firepower, while keeping relatable, lovelorn lyrics at the fore.