First Country is a compilation of the best new country songs, videos & albums that dropped this week.
Brothers Osborne with The War & Treaty, “It’s Only Rock N’ Roll (But I Like It)”
A pair of duos, Brothers Osborne and The War & Treaty, take on a Rolling Stones classic. It’s part of the upcoming tribute album Stoned Cold Country, honoring the 60th anniversary of the Rolling Stones. TJ’s basement-deep vocal, commingling with the raw, vibrant vocals from The War & Treaty’s Tanya Trotter and Michael Trotter Jr., make for an electrifying, swaggering musical moment. They will perform the song live at the upcoming CMA Awards on Nov. 9.
Maren Morris, Humble Quest: In Rare Form
Morris is offering fans a new, raw look at seven songs from her album Humble Quest (which dropped earlier this year), including “I Can’t Love You Anymore,” “Tall Guys” and the title track. Accompanying the release is a short film, featuring Morris, accompanied by piano and drums, performing stripped-down renderings of these songs — illuminating lyrics that scour through a range of emotions, from maturing love (“I Can’t Love You Anymore”) to searching for the balance of self-fulfillment (“Humble Quest”).
Bowen * Young, “Dangerous Love”
Former Nashville actress/vocalist Clare Bowen teams with her husband, Brandon Robert Young, to form this new Americana duo. A spectral melody heightens the tension, trepidation and determination in the pair’s exquisite harmonies, as does the fact that the song was written two days after they experienced a harrowing home invasion. A promising release from this new duo.
Madeline Edwards, “Mama, Dolly, Jesus”
Edwards, newly-signed to Warner Music Nashville, releases her debut project for the major label with Crashlanded, out today (Nov. 4). The project includes this new song, wherein Edwards effortlessly swats away any naysayers with unabashed confidence. “You ain’t Mama, Dolly or Jesus…so pick your bones and throw your stones, I ain’t inclined to please you,” she sings, making clear that anyone outside this trinity of influencers and encouragers will be hard-pressed to shatter her beliefs with their barbs. Edwards wrote the song with Jessie Jo Dillon, Jimmy Robbins and Laura Veltz.
Hailey Whitters, “New Baby for Christmas”
The onslaught of holiday-inspired tunes is upon us, but “Everything She Ain’t” singer Whitters offers a shining take on this 1957 George Jones track, ably taking on the traditional country melody and fusing it with her own twangy spin. Further capturing the fiddle-drenched, retro vibe of the song, Whitters recorded it at revered RCA Studio A in Nashville, where artists including Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn have recorded.
Mickey Guyton, “I Still Pray”
Guyton’s commanding voice heightens the spiritual element to this piano-based track, which encourages those who are striving through any number of heartbreaks and painful situations. “When it rains it loves to pour/ That’s when my knees hit the floor,” she sings in this comforting mesh of spirit and song.
Brittney Spencer, if i ever get there: a day at blackbird studio
The newly signed Elektra artist releases her new three-song EP, if I ever get there: a day at blackbird studio. Known for songs including “Compassion” and “Sober & Skinny,” Spencer is also an honorary member of The Highwomen, and has opened shows for artists including Reba McEntire and Jason Isbell. She takes no prisoners on the sassy, frank and vulnerable “Better Than Friends,” and offers a relaxed version of The Chicks’ “Cowboy Take Me Away,” her intimate vocal high in the mix and supported by subdued instrumentation. The stately “A Hundred Years Old” is marked by the introspective musings of one learning permanent lessons from a broken heart.
Phil Vassar and Deana Carter, “Brand New Year”
Pianist-vocalist-songwriter Vassar teams with “Strawberry Wine” hitmaker Carter to offer this holiday track, which they co-wrote together with Steve Dorff. This elegant piano ballad is a quietly optimistic toast to an anticipated year of hope, love and goodness, bolstered by their smooth, easygoing vocal collaboration. A polished track worthy of addition to any holiday playlist.
Jason Aldean, “Christmas in Dixie”
Seventeen years into his recording career, Aldean releases his first holiday song, a cover of the 1982 Alabama hit “Christmas in Dixie.” The instrumentation is respectful of the original, though it builds into kind of sleek production Aldean’s records are known for. His warm vocal comes across as capable and comfortable, infusing the lyrics with his signature vocal twang, though the track of course lacks the front-and-center group harmonies that round out the Alabama original. Still, this is an sincere updating of a country holiday classic.