This week in country, Brandy Clark returns with new music, Luke Combs takes on a Tracy Chapman classic, and Rissi Palmer and Miko Marks team up for a powerful collaboration. All that and more below, as Billboard takes you through the new country releases you need to hear this week.
Brandy Clark, “Buried”
Clark returns with the announcement of an upcoming self-titled album (out May 19), with production by Brandi Carlile (their previous collaboration, “Same Devil,” earned Clark her 10th Grammy nomination). Clark, known for co-penning country hits including “Mama’s Broken Heart” and “Follow Your Arrow,” is well-versed with Nashville’s music row writing rooms and machinations. But here, she moves further away from writing-by-committee, unearthing personal revelations. With the album’s first single, “Buried,” Clark exhumes the sense of emotional tethering to an ex-lover, even as she attempts to move on. “I’ll be an over you achiever, I’ll make you a believer/ That I don’t love you either,” she sings — though the song’s denouement offers a glimpse at the devotion behind the defiance. As she envisions one day getting remarried, she confesses, “But I’ll love you ’til I’m buried.” Above all, Clark continues to convey her inexorable talents as both a song-crafter and vocal interpreter.
Luke Combs, “Fast Car”
When Luke Combs released his 18-song latest album, Gettin’ Old, on Friday (March 24), one of the most gut-wrenching songs on the project wasn’t a new track, but his cover of the 1988 blues-folk hit, “Fast Car,” written and recorded by Tracy Chapman. The song’s gritty tale chronicles a woman’s escape from a low-income, alcoholic family situation, only to end up in a similar situation, working a low-income job, living with an alcoholic partner, and once again faced with the decision to leave. The timeless song has earned several cover attempts since its release 35 years ago; Combs’s laudable cover stays steadfast to the song’s iconic guitar riffs, while his gravelly vocal phrasing at times approximates Chapman’s, encapsulating both the aspiration and desolation recounted in the song.
Jordana Bryant, “Penniless & Broke”
Bryant brings an atmospheric, country-pop polish to her new song, while laying waste to a lover’s litany of clichéd excuses for ending a relationship. “We could’ve been giving each other our hearts/ You gave it up before you even tried,” she sings, layering her staccato vocals over this spunky-yet-contemplative track. Written by Bryant with Jason Earley and Jonathan Gamble, this auspicious single melds conversational, ripped-from-the-diary lyrics with deft pop melody and rhythm. “Penniless and Broke” is the first release from Bryant’s upcoming six-song EP, out April 21.
Randall King, “Green Eyes Blue”
King follows his 2020 EP Leanna and 2022 album Shot Glass with his latest single, a nod to the life-changing power of love. “It’s like I was saved from the hell I raised/ When my gaze locked on you,” King sings. Written by King with Randy Montana, this song is so steeped in traditional country sounds that you can nearly smell the sawdust on the floor of the honkytonk. As with all of King’s music, it’s the honeyed, distinctive timbre of his voice and the vitality in his songs that hoist his staunchly traditional sound above the plethora of recently released, ’90s country-tinged songs.
Maggie Baugh, “Mystery Whiskey Woman”
Singer-songwriter and touring musician Baugh teamed with fellow songwriter Larry McCoy for her latest outing, a song which finds Baugh watching a woman alone in a bar, and pondering what circumstances led her to that moment. “Are you drinkin’ ’bout something worth drinkin’ ’bout tonight?” Baugh muses. A sparse accompaniment, stripped down to only guitar and pedal steel, lends a hushed, haunting feel to the track.
Rissi Palmer and Miko Marks, “Still Here”
This swampy track teams Palmer with close friend and fellow Black country artist Miko Marks, for a celebration of perseverance, ambition and ultimately triumph, imbued with sizzling vocals and shades of soul-elevating gospel. Singer-songwriter Palmer also hosts Apple Music’s Color Me Country, while Marks returned to country music in 2021 with her project Our Country, following a decade-plus hiatus from the genre.
The song shares its title with the recently-released PBS documentary, which traces Palmer’s career journey as one of a handful of Black women to have charted songs on country radio — also including Linda Martell, Dona Mason and Mickey Guyton. Starting in May, Palmer and Marks will team up for a co-headlining tour later this year.
Chancey Williams, One of These Days
Williams, a former saddle bronc rider, has previously released five studio albums. On his latest project, the 11-song One of These Days, he continues to wrap his pleasant baritone around a slate of honky tonk songs. The album features production by and nine co-writes with Trent Willmon, a singer-songwriter in his own right, who also produced Cody Johnson’s CMA-winning “‘Til You Can’t.” Among the gems on this project are the coolly swaggering “Bordertown Whiskey,” the gentle-yet-impactful “If I Die Before You Wake” (one of the few outside cuts here, written by Dave Brainard, Dustin Evans and Rick Tiger) and the fiddle-drenched title track (Williams with Jody Stevens).
Ashley Ryan, “Too Far Gone”
In 2018, California native-turned-Nashville resident Ashley Ryan got a career boost when she was invited to sing with Keith Urban at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena during his Graffiti U Tour. Ryan is all swagger on this full-fledged barn burner: “Your mama gave you her mama’s hand-me-down clothes/ My mama gave me a half-smoked pack of Marlboros,” she sneers on the track, contrasting her own down-home upbringing to that of someone else’s relative wealthy origins. Deftly navigating spitfire lyrics, this newcomer brings an abundance of firepower.