First Country is a compilation of the best new country songs, videos and albums that dropped this week.
New music abounds today (Sept. 27), with a standout duet from Carly Pearce and Lee Brice on “I Hope You’re Happy Now,” and full-length projects from Jon Pardi and Kalie Shorr. While Pardi returns to his traditional roots with Heartache Medication, which blends old-school country influences with modern production, Shorr introduces herself to the world with the confessional debut album, Open Book, where she channels Taylor Swift just as much as Alanis Morissette on rockers like “The One,” the infectious “Gatsby” and bold “Thank God You’re a Man.”
Here are some of our favorite projects of the week.
Carly Pearce and Lee Brice, “I Hope You’re Happy Now”
On “I Hope You’re Happy Now” Pearce shares past heartbreak on her stirring duet with Brice. The emotive and hopeful ballad, which she penned with Luke Combs, Jonathan Singleton and Randy Montana, has Pearce taking the high road following a breakup. Instead of regretting the past, she sings of her wish for an ex: that he moved on and is happy now. All the while, Pearce and Brice’s voices blend beautifully as they lament on the end of a relationship but look optimistically forward.
Hannah Dasher, “The Tree”
Hannah Dasher’s country-rock cred is apparent throughout her thumping new release, “The Tree.” On the captivating track, she sings of missing authentic country music of the past.
“Country music was born like a tree in the dirt/ And it came up strong and down to earth / It’s all about the branchin’ out, everybody been branchin’ out … We’re gettin’ a little too far from the three chords and the truth part of it/ Forgettin’ where the roots are is gonna kill the tree,” she croons.
Jake Owen, “Homemade”
Jake Owen released the music video for his latest single “Homemade,” which shares the story of his grandparents and how they met in real life. The sweet love story plays out like an old film and has the reader on edge with its uncertain ending.
“My grandparents’ story and how they met is truly the American love story,” he said in a statement. “When I think about the love that people have had together, and I think about their story, there are plenty of songs that could be written about the love they share together.”
Jon Pardi, Heartache Medication
Pardi’s love of traditional country shines through his third studio album, Heartache Medication. Sweeping pedal steel, soaring fiddle accompaniment and driving horns pepper the album on songs like “Old Hat” and “Call Me Country,” while the feel-good “Tequila Little Time” and “Me and Jack” ramp up the pace and are sure to excel in the live show.
Kalie Shorr, Open Book
Shorr shines on her debut album, Open Book. A mix of genres and influences, her songwriting is at the forefront on each track as heard on the stirring “Big Houses,” stripped down “Messy” and heart-wrenching “The World Keeps Spinning.” It is on the confessional “Escape” that she truly finds her voice. A tale of the struggles she and her family have faced, Shorr chooses to keep fighting for her dream, despite how far it may seem.
“Everybody’s gotta start where all their wishes go/ And if those stars aren’t lucky then you gotta hang your own/ Getting out of bed is hard if you don’t have a reason/ Everybody needs an escape and mine was leaving,” she sings on “Escape.”
Lauren Alaina, “Getting Good”
Lauren Alaina bares her soul on the stirring “Getting Good.” A song about the importance of living in the moment and appreciating the small things, Alaina sings of all the excuses people often have in life to not chase after the things they love.
“Once I fall in love then I’ll be happy/ But then you fall in love and there is still a hole/ Once I get some money it’ll all be easy/ But then you get that money, you still feel broke … I’m thinking once I learn to soak up every moment/ I’ll realize my life’s already good,” she sings.