First Country is a compilation of the best new country songs, videos and albums that dropped this week.
Ian Munsick & Cody Johnson, “Long Live Cowgirls”
Munsick has Wyoming roots, while Johnson is a native of the Lone Star State. On this fiddle-drenched track, they team up to pay tribute to cowgirls who are “tough as December and salt of the Earth.” Boots, pearls and Chris LeDoux songs are just a few of the things cowgirls love that draw the admiration of these singers. Their rough-hewn voices blend splendidly on this track, which Munsick wrote with Aby Gutierrez and Phil O’Donnell.
Music fans can undoubtedly hear a live rendition of this track at a concert soon, as Munsick and Johnson hit the road last fall on Johnson’s headlining tour, which continues this year.
Maddie & Tae and Morgane Stapleton, “Don’t Make Her Look Dumb”
Duo Maddie & Tae join forces with singer-songwriter Morgane Stapleton as they stand up to a bad-boy lover who seems intent on breaking their friend’s heart. The song’s frank warning is in contrast to the smooth production and elegant harmonies that stand front-and-center on this track. Maddie Font and Taylor Kerr wrote the song with Barry Dean and Luke Laird, and it’s featured on Maddie & Tae’s eight-song collection Through the Madness, Vol. 1.
Tracy Lawrence, “Don’t Drink Whiskey” (Video)
In this clip, directed by Tristan Cusick, two lovers ultimately face the reality that their relationship can’t keep pace with the vastly different ambitions they have for their own lives. He’s a cowboy with his heart tethered to the land, and she’s a ballerina with dreams of performing on a larger stage. Lawrence is seen in performance shots interspersed throughout, as the cowboy drowns his sorrows at a bar.
Hannah Bethel, “Bad News Baby”
Just like cigarettes and other sorts of vices, singer-songwriter Hannah Bethel finds herself at first captivated by a new love, only to find the buzz isn’t worth the pain in the end. Bethel’s beautifully hazy voice is enhanced by a gentle melody and a smooth blend of pop-country instrumentation. “Bad News Baby” is part of Bethel’s upcoming EP Until The Sun Comes Back Around, out March 25. In addition to lead vocals, Bethel plays electric and acoustic guitar on the album.
Caitlyn Smith, “High”
In the aftermath of an ended relationship, she knows she ended things the right way, but putting emotional pull behind her isn’t easy. Smith co-wrote the track with Miley Cyrus and Jennifer Decilveo, and Cyrus previously included a rendition of the song on her album Plastic Hearts.
Here, Smith offers her own powerful, elegant take on the song, with Amanda Shires offering up a raw fiddle accompaniment.
Robb offers his own spin on the classic country truck song, as he recalls idyllic days of being a teenager riding down backroads in a Chevy 1500. Robb wrote the song with Pete Good, Brandon Ratcliff and Dave Turnbull. Robb’s laid-back vocal performance perfectly fits with song’s contemporary production. The song will be included on Robb’s How’d You Get Away With It EP, which releases in February.
Emma White, “Cowboy”
White’s brand of airy pop-country is a deft blend of her sultry, R&B-tinged vocals with sleek, sweetened production. White wrote the song with Melissa Fuller and Kate Malone, and it’s a slow-jam filled with verve and confidence
Adam Doleac, “Drinkin’ It Wrong”
Doleac has the perfect recipe for a weekend in this breezy jam, which he wrote with Cary Barlowe and Jordan Schmidt. “If that bottle ain’t cold/ You been holding it too long/ I don’t know what you been told but you’re drinkin’ it wrong,” he sings in this feel-good track. Doleac will open for Jessie James Decker’s tour, which launches in April.