Carrie Underwood offered fans a “birthday surprise” with her new song, while Tim McGraw offers a reflective new track. Megan Moroney heads to the honkytonk, and newcomer Tony Evans, Jr. delves into heartbreak on his smooth four-song EP.
Carrie Underwood, “Out of That Truck”
Underwood released a “birthday surprise” in celebration of her 40th birthday on March 10, with this track she wrote with David Garcia and Lydia Vaughn. She muses that her former flame will have quite the challenge trying to erase the memory of their relationship — thanks to all the traces of herself left behind in her ex-lover’s stick-shift Chevy, from the scent of her shampoo on the headrest to a strawberry wine stain on the seat.
Thematically, the song shares DNA with one of Underwood’s previous releases, “Ghost Story” — though here, Underwood’s penetrating vocals are framed by free-spirited, ‘90s country-soaked instrumentals. A radio hit contender for sure, and another in a recent canon of songs about reminders of old relationships that linger in pickups, following Tim McGraw’s “7500 OBO” and Dylan Scott’s “New Truck.”
Tim McGraw, “Standing Room Only”
With 29 No. 1 Billboard Country Airplay hits to his credit, including “Just to See You Smile” and “Something Like That,” McGraw has based his career on sturdy, timeless songcraft.
Along the way, he’s more than proven his prowess at uplifting and reflective songs such as “Humble and Kind,” and “Thought About You.” His latest muses on living life in a way that one’s funeral would be a “standing room only” affair, filled with those lives had been indelibly impacted. The song’s message is similar to McGraw’s Grammy-winning track “Live Like You Were Dying,” with his warm, accessible voice wrapping around a meteoric chorus and a message with an eye on mortality and legacy.
Parker McCollum, “Speed”
Texas native McCollum is poised to add to his arsenal of radio hits like “Pretty Heart” and “To Be Loved By You” with this ode to living life in the fast lane, complete with blistering guitar work paired with McCollum’s urgent vocal. He tips his hat to his hometown of Conroe in his new track, and acknowledges a youthful, hard-charging musician’s wanderlust and ambition.
“I remember shakin’ my head when my old man told me/ ‘Boy, one of these days you won’t always be so hung up on speed,’” he sings. McCollum teamed with Ryan Beaver for this track, which marks a first taste of McCollum’s upcoming album Never Enough, out May 12 via MCA Nashville.
Tony Evans Jr., Starless
Indie country artist Tony Evans Jr. offers a succinct, four song EP with Starless, produced by Ron Fair with distribution by The Orchard. The collection of tracks center around heartbreak and regret, elevating Evans’s warm, burnished vocal. The set includes the shimmering, harmonica-laced “If You’re Ever in Georgia,” and the uplifting “Need Somebody.” “Kids We Never Had” is the standout cut, as Evans muses about a relationship that never stood the test of time and what could have been, all in exquisite detail.
Gabe Lee, “Eveline”
Four years after releasing his debut single, “Eveline,” Gabe Lee reconceptualizes the song with a slightly more uptempo beat, propulsive banjo lines and sprightly fiddle. Lee’s evocative voice effectively sells this sparsely dreamy update to this song of regret, over the things he’s had to leave behind in a small town.
Thompson Square, “Without You”
Thompson Square’s Keifer and Shawna Thompson have previously released more than a dozen country radio singles and earned two No. 1 Billboard Country Airplay hits with “Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not” and “If I Didn’t Have You.” Their latest release is a summer-ready track, featuring propulsive, banjo-fueled instrumentation that lends it an early Keith Urban vibe. Keifer’s gritty vocal is soothed by Shawna’s piercing, pure voice. Together they forge coolly cozy harmonies that perfectly set up this song, which explores who each would be with and without the other tackling life alongside them. Though the couple didn’t write the track (Anthony Olympia, Tim Nichols and Brent Rupard did), they certainly make it their own.
Megan Moroney, “Lucky”
Following her breakthrough single “Tennessee Orange” and the subsequent “I’m Not Pretty,” Moroney is gearing up for the release of her debut album Lucky (out May 5). The opening guitar riff has shades of the opening to Alan Jackson’s “Chattahoochee,” while the song overall feels a little bit Shania and full-on honkytonk, in a manner that would have sounded right at home on ‘90s country radio. Lyrically, it’s chock-full of quirky lines such as “Tonight my only ambition is to make a bad decision/ ’Cause me, my phone, and the neon’s buzzin’” as she makes it clear to her ex-lover that he’s lucky she’s drinking that night. Moroney wrote the song with Ben Williams, Casey Smith and David “Messy” Mescon.