First Country is a compilation of the best new country songs, videos & albums that dropped this week. Ingrid Andress returns with the first release from her upcoming album, Kaitlin Butts offers a sterling new album, and Parker McCollum covers a John Mayer classic.
Ingrid Andress, “Good Person”
In the first song from Andress’ upcoming sophomore album, Andress ponders the complexity of humanity and the hazy, fluid definition of a “good” person. Though she mines deeper lyrical material here than on her breakthrough “More Hearts Than Mine,” she retains her signature moody, introspective vibe. Andress co-wrote the song with Steph Jones and Sam Ellis, and co-produced the track with Ellis.
Little Big Town, “Hell Yeah”
This hitmaking group premiered their first new song in two years during this week’s CMT Music Awards. Catchy whistles, plucky guitar work, and the quartet’s always air-tight harmonies lead on this deceptively upbeat track. Though he’s drinking, partying, smiling and letting his ex think he’s moved on, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Little Big Town’s Jimi Westbrook and Phillip Sweet wrote the track with Corey Crowder and Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard.
Kaitlin Butts, “Jackson”
Butts brings a classic country sensibility to this track, a wink at the Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash hit by the same name–though in this song, a litany of broken promises and betrayals bring about the relationship’s demise.
The track is featured on her album What Else Can She Do, which releases today, seven years after her debut project Same Hell, Different Devil. The project centers on stories of women fighting against a variety of unenviable setbacks and struggles, highlighting broken hearts and iron wills. The album also closes with a stunning version of the folk song “In the Pines” (which many will recognize as “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?,” performed by Nirvana as part of their legendary 1994 MTV Unplugged in New York special), which highlights her voice at its most powerful and chilling.
Parker McCollum, “Perfectly Lonely”
McCollum covers a John Mayer classic as part of Amazon Music’s Amazon Original series. McCollum’s version serves a more straightforward, subtle swagger than Mayer’s tightly constructed, soulful original, but is ultimately a testament to Parker’s versatility. He previously covered George Strait’s classic “Carrying Your Love With Me,” and earned a second Billboard Country Airplay No. 1 the year with the sizzling “To Be Loved By You.”
Niko Moon, “Easy Tonight”
Last year, Moon earned his first Billboard Country Airplay No. 1 as an artist with “Good Time.” Here, he keeps the quirky, chill vibes going. What the lyrics lack in substance, the melodies and instrumentation make up for with an eminently danceable, perfect summer song. Moon collaborated on the track with his wife and songwriter Anna Moon, as well as Joshua Murty, Wyatt Durrette, Levi Lowrey, Patrick Davis and Kevin Mac.
American Aquarium, “All I Needed”
Emotional healing can come from the perfect song at the perfect moment, or as AA puts it, a “Savior in three-quarter time.” Drive-By Truckers member Patterson Hood lends his voice to the high harmony on this spry, hook-laden track. The song is the first from American Aquarium’s upcoming ninth studio album, Chicamacomico, out June 10.
Bailey Zimmerman, “Fall in Love”
On the full-band original of this cautionary tale, the guitar line smokes and stacks up to Zimmerman’s blistering vocal. But on this newly-released acoustic version, the focus is placed squarely on Zimmerman’s effortlessly gritty, fervent vocal. It’s a promising release from this newcomer, who recently inked a deal with Warner Music Nashville/Elektra Music Group.
Eric Paslay, ‘Even If It Breaks Your Heart”
Written by Paslay and Will Hoge, this song was recorded by Hoge in 2009, before Eli Young Band turned it into a Country Airplay No. 1 hit three years later. Here, Paslay offers a stirring rendition of his tale of a small-town dreamer. On his latest album, Even If It Breaks Your Barefoot Friday Night, Paslay revisits several songs he’s penned that artists such as Jake Owen and Rascal Flatts have spun into hits. The project serves as a reminder that he’s as potent as a singer as he is a song crafter.