This week brings more collaborations to the country world, as Tyler Hubbard reveals a demo collab with Keith Urban. Meanwhile, Ella Langley teams with Koe Wetzel. Also, talented newcomers showcase new music, including Aaron Vance, Catie Offerman and Meg McRee.
Tyler Hubbard feat. Keith Urban, “Dancin’ in the Country” (Demo)
Hubbard has earned a top 15 Hot Country Songs hit with “Dancing in the Country,” and now he’s offering fans an inside look at how the song was made, via the song’s demo recording, featuring Hubbard and co-writers Keith Urban, Ross Copperman and Jon Nite. Recorded in October 2021, the demo features Urban on guitar, bass, ganjo and harmony vocals, while also taking the lead on the bridge, with Copperman on keyboards and programming. The collaboration between Urban and Hubbard highlights the song’s raw verve and intensity, even sans the added layers of production.
Megan Moroney, “Girl in the Mirror”
As Moroney gears up for her May 5 album Lucky, Moroney examines love in light of low self-esteem in this track about a toxic relationship. “He puts her down/ She put him pedestal high,” she sings, ultimately counseling listeners that “you can’t love the boy more than you love the girl in the mirror.” Moroney wrote the track with Jessie Jo Dillon and Matt Jenkins, reprising the kind of lilting melody and straight-shooting, confessional lyrics that made a hit of “Tennessee Orange.” Combined with Moroney’s desolate, gritty vocal delivery, it makes for a winning shot.
William Beckmann, “It’s Still January”
His ex-lover has been out of his life for about six months, but for him, time’s pace is glacial and he’s still centered in the hurt and pain of her leaving. A waft of her scent on an old still leads to a breakdown. Lyrically, “It’s Still January” feels akin to the next chapter in Beckmann’s 2021 breakthrough “Bourbon Whiskey,” as the protagonist’s arrogance of preferring whiskey over his lover gives way to a stark realization and haunting loss. This tale of heartbreak is framed in traditional country-leaning song structures from writer Keith Gattis and producer Oran Thornton. “It’s Still January” follows Beckmann’s 2022 album Faded Memories.
Ella Langley with Koe Wetzel, “That’s Why We Fight”
Langley and Wetzel make for an angst-fueled, sultry combo in this track, which depicts a couple that seems woefully mismatched in every way — but as they put it, “Baby, we do one thing right/ That’s why we fight.” Together, they pulverize their way through each biting lyric, mirroring the couple’s turbulent method of “smashing every bottle we keep bottled up inside.” This acerbic tale marks a sweet victory and is included on Langley’s upcoming EP Excuse the Mess.
Catie Offerman, “I Just Killed a Man”
Texas native Offerman makes it clear her ex-lover isn’t the only one doing emotional penance, with these deftly-penned lyrics that liken breaking a lover’s heart to snuffing out their essence. She also knows word will get around in the small town, regardless of whether the relationship was flawed to begin with. The understated production highlights the undercurrent of resignation and loneliness in Offerman’s bruised vocals. Offerman wrote the song with Ryan Beaver, Joe Clemmons, Jessie Jo Dillon and Benjy Davis. The single will be included on Offerman’s debut album.
Aaron Vance, “Just to Get By”
Mississippi native Vance’s previous release “Cabin Fever” (the title track to his solid 2021 album) began with the lyric “Sittin’ at home/ Tryin’ not to stay stoned.” On “Just to Get By,” appropriately released on 4/20, Vance surveys an array of society’s coping mechanisms — some resort to violence, others opt for golf. Vance sings of leaning toward something more low-key: drinks, smokes or “one of those funny little green gummies,” when he needs to shake off the struggles of the world. Written by Vance with Rich Karg, “Just to Get By” encompasses a laid-back melody and sparse accompaniment that highlight his at-times gritty vocal and his smooth falsetto moments.
Meg McRee, “Mary Jane and Chardonnay”
Singer-songwriter McRee offered up another 4/20-appropriate ode with this track from her recent album, Is It Just Me?. As she’s running down her dreams, she finds a way to unwind with “paper and leaves” and “a bottle of grapes from overseas.” This dreamy, hazy track encompasses shades of Sheryl Crow alongside a Southern-rock flavored rhythm, anchored by insightful lyricism from McRee, Andrew Petroff, and Aaron Ratiere. McRee signed with Hillary Lindsey’s Hang Your Hat venture with Concord Music Publishing, and has recently opened shows for Lainey Wilson and Morgan Wade.