First Country is a compilation of the best new country songs, videos & albums that dropped this week.
HARDY and Lainey Wilson, “Wait in the Truck”
ACM songwriter of the year HARDY and ACM new female artist of the year winner Lainey Wilson team up for this collaboration centered on domestic violence and revenge. He comes across a battered woman on the side of the road one night, gets revenge on her abusive partner and pays the price with a lengthy jail sentence. But as he puts it, “It’s a whole hell of a lot better than the place I sent him to.” The two artists’ voices blend splendidly, while a choir sings a glorious repetition of “Have mercy on me,” underscoring the weight of decision and redemption. A masterpiece collaboration from two of country music’s most exciting rising stars, and a worthy addition to country music’s canon of murder ballads.
The War and Treaty, “That’s How Love Is Made”
This sultry, intimate, urgent piano ballad marks another powerful release from this married musical duo. Newly signed with Mercury Nashville, The War and Treaty‘s Michael Trotter Jr. and Tanya Trotter delve into the necessary give and take that makes a relationship healthy and lasting. Written by the duo with Dave Barnes, “That’s How Love Is Made” is the first release from their upcoming Dave Cobb-produced album. The passion in their distinct voices is unfettered, while the arrangement blends in notes of gospel and R&B. Together it makes for necessary listening.
Mickey Guyton, “Somethin’ ‘Bout You”
In 2020, Guyton broke through with a pair of songs that addressed both gender and racial discrimination, as well as her EP Bridges. Since then, she’s earned a slew of Grammy nominations, issued her full-length album Remember Her Name, co-hosted the ACM Awards and performed the national anthem at the Super Bowl, among other accolades. Now, she returns with a breezy, uptempo ode to love that she co-wrote alongside David Garcia and Tyler Hubbard. Guyton proves yet again she has impeccable vocal chops, lifted further by the song’s bright production.
Kenny Chesney and Old Dominion, “Beer With My Friends”
Longtime friends Old Dominion and Chesney teamed up for this collab about unwinding with your favorite people at your favorite bar. Old Dominion members Brad Tursi and Matthew Ramsey crafted Chesney’s 2014 hit “Save It For a Rainy Day” and have been frequent tour openers for Chesney, including on his 2022 Here and Now Tour. Together, they create a classic-sounding, arena-ready singalong.
Kip Moore, “If I Was Your Lover” (Video)
Moore’s churning brand of country-rock gets an amped-up dance vibe on this song. Meanwhile, the groovy, grungy video features “Wilder Days” hitmaker Morgan Wade, as Wade and Moore do a convincing job portraying a carefree couple in love.
Sunny Sweeney feat. Vince Gill, “Married Alone”
This mournful ballad delves into the despair of a relationship in the process of dissolving. Sweeney’s country-as-grits voice pairs wondrously with Gill’s pure tenor, with both voices effortlessly conveying the song’s emotional nuances. The song is included on Sweeney’s forthcoming album, due Sept. 23.
Kendell Marvel feat. Chris Stapleton, “Don’t Tell Me How to Drink”
This ace singer-songwriter has been making a formidable impact on country music for over two decades, as a writer on songs for Brothers Osborne (“Younger Me”), Chris Stapleton (“Either Way”), Gary Allan (“Right Where I Need to Be”) and more. He’s also released two solo albums, with a third, Come On Sunshine, set for Sept. 23. On this track, he welcomes Stapleton for a rousing, defiant track that finds Marvel telling off someone questioning his drinking habits. “I’ve spilled more on a barroom floor than you’ve ever had/ So let me do my thing,” he growls, on a track destined to become a live show favorite.
Gary LeVox, “Get Down Like That”
LeVox, known for his work as the lead singer for Rascal Flatts and now embarking on a solo career, releases a thoroughly country radio-ready romp here, with spitfire lyrics about apple pie, midnight fishing, coke and crown mixed with a little Bruno Mars. The track was written by fellow hit crafters Thomas Rhett, Ashley Gorley, HARDY and Jesse Frasure.