First Country is a compilation of the best new country songs, videos & albums that dropped this week.
Trace Adkins, “A Country Boy Can Survive”
In January, FOX will premiere the country music drama Monarch, featuring Susan Sarandon and Adkins. The series’ first song features Adkins giving his own spin on this 1982 classic from recent Country Music Hall of Fame inductee Hank Williams, Jr. Like Williams, Adkins has proven many times over his penchant for traditional country sounds. Here, he offers a swaggering, twangy take on the song, bolstered with handclaps, careening guitar work and sprinkles of bluesy piano. Though his rendering sounds more buttoned up than the freewheeling original, Adkins’ unmistakable deep voice provides the verve this song requires.
Blake Shelton feat. HARDY, “Fire Up The Night”
HARDY has already been a co-writer on two Shelton singles, including the 2019 hit “God’s Country,” as well as “Come Back as a Country Boy.” Now, HARDY joins Shelton on this feel-good track that finds the singers ready to “party like it’s redneck ’99,” with all the requisite pickup trucks, beer, bonfires and Tennessee mountain shine.
Old Crow Medicine Show, “Paint This Town”
“Ever since I was a young boy/ I had a wandering soul,” go the opening lines to this title track to the band’s upcoming album, out in April on ATO Records. They apply their unique amalgam of country and folk, mixed with subtle shades of edgy heartland rock, to this tip of the hat to small towns and adventurous spirits. The newly-released video for the track, helmed by Travis Nicholson, envisions the band’s members as small-town kids trying to find a bit of excitement in a slow-moving, nothing-to-do rural environment.
Warren Zeiders, “Outskirts of Heaven”
Last year, Zeiders saw his single “Ride the Lightning” find viral success, and followed it with the release of the EP 717 Tapes. His latest project, Acoustic Covers (Deluxe), finds Zeiders covering a string of hit songs recorded by other artists, including this 2016 Craig Campbell single, penned by Campbell and Dave Turnbull. While “Ride the Lightning” saw Zeiders musing on the tension and temptation between good choices and bad ones, here he’s daydreaming about what the other side will look like, in hopes that it will include the kinds of dirt roads, wide open skies and front porches he’s spent his lifetime enjoying. Zeiders offers a stripped-down acoustic version of the track, one that places the focus squarely on his warm, plain-sung delivery. Campbell produced this Zeiders version and also contributes vocals and guitar.
Jay Allen, “Whiskey Prayer”
In 2018, Allen released “Blank Stares,” an intimate track detailing the pain of watching his mother’s battle with early-onset Alzheimer’s. His latest, “Whiskey Prayer,” continues the story of its predecessor, sharing the emotional rock-bottom he endured after her passing in 2019. “I’ve reached the bottom of my faith and the bottle,” Allen sings, his voice resonant and emotional yet restrained, as the song conveys both the desperation and dignity in a vulnerable cry for help to a higher power.
Loney Hutchins, Buried Loot, Demos from the House of Cash and Outlaw Era, ’73-78
In the early 1970s, Nashville songwriter Hutchins joined Johnny Cash’s House of Cash music publishing company. As part of his work there, Hutchins produced more than 80 hours of demo recordings. On this collection of demos, Hutchins unearths 24 of those recordings, including “Stoney Creek,” co-written by the late Hazel Smith, who is credited with coining the phrase “outlaw music.” The project also includes songs written by Hutchins, Johnny Cash (“Daughter of an Outlaw Man,” “Committed to Parkview”) and Helen Carter (“Ya Gotta Live It”), while the session players here include luminaries such as D.J. Fontana, Lloyd Green, Sonny Louvin and Kenny Malone. Buried Loot is an apt title for this treasure trove of recordings.
Chris Lane, “Stop Coming Over”
While the title seems like a sharp kiss-off, though one listen to Lane’s latest track reveals a lover ready to step up his relationship. His girl is already a frequent visitor at his place, but he’s ready to make the house a home for both of them.
“When are you gonna stop comin’ over/ and start comin’ home?” he sings, while this contemporary track continues Lane’s blend of pop, country and R&B, accented with moody guitar work. The writers on the song include Rocky Block, Jordan Dozzi and Brett Tyler, with production by Joey Moi.
Peytan Porter, “Therapy”
Georgia native Porter pours years worth of work, heartache and life lessons into this track, which gets its official music video release this week. The clip was directed Porter and Slater Goodson with Cece Dawson serving as creative director, and offers tight-cropped performance shots from Porter, interspersed with series of flashbacks to moments from a previous relationship.
In this introspective mid-tempo slow groover, Porter sets her boundaries and sets about healing in the aftermath of a toxic relationship. Porter penned the track alongside Micah Carpenter, Jonathan Hutcherson and Mackenzie Carpenter, with production from Greg Bates and Evan Cline.