Kane Brown, “Worldwide Beautiful”
Brown released a moving, uplifting song about unity following the death of George Floyd by Minneapolis cops. Now, he amps the message with a video that looks like an apocalyptic Bennetton ad. Amidst destruction with abandoned, overturned burning cars riddled with graffiti, children of all races play together on a deserted main street as their love transforms the thoroughfare into a blooming, green garden. It’s a lovely video for a lovely, necessary song.
Luke Combs, “Better Together”
Combs dips further into What You See Is What You Get for this gentle piano ballad that salutes all things that go better together ranging from “coke cans and BB guns” to “a cup of coffee and a sunrise,” before transitioning into a love story as he segues into pairings he likes that make him happy about his girlfriend, like having “your license in my wallet when we go downtown” or “your lipstick stained every coffee cup that I got in this house,” and, then, ultimately, “your first and my last name.” As he is so good at doing, Combs takes a well-trod subject and turns it into something fresh.
Dolly Parton, A Holly Dolly Christmas
Parton is here to celebrate the holidays and she’s brought friends, including Michael Buble, Jimmy Fallon, Willie Nelson and Miley Cyrus, with her on this highly enjoyable set that combines Christmas classics and originals. As she does with everything, she makes even the well known songs her own: on album opener “A Holly Jolly Christmas,” she explains how her love of the song led her to make her first holiday album in decades. Tops among the duets are the romantic, lush “Cuddle Up, Cozy Down Christmas” with Buble and Parton and Nelson’s remake of his “Pretty Paper.”
Eric Church, “Hell of a View”
After the fire-and-brimstone “Stick That In Your Country Song” and rowdy “ Bad Mother Trucker,” Church returns with a sweet, mid-tempo track about facing life together as a couple and whatever it brings. Singing with his longtime backing vocalist Joanna Cotten, they revel in blazing their own path more reliant on adventure than safe choices: ”This ain’t for everybody / Toes hanging off the ledge / Like we got nothin’ to lose / Ain’t always heaven, baby / This livin’ on the edge / You holdin’ me holdin’ you / It’s a hell of a view.”
Maren Morris, “Better Than We Found It”
Morris has a moment of reckoning on this track that she —as are all of us— responsible for leaving the world better than we found it. Written in recent weeks, in part in response to the Black Lives Matter movement, Morris asks if she has done enough. “Can I live with the side that I chose to be on/Will we sit on our hands, do nothing about it/Or will we leave this world better than we found it?” She pleas for America to find some path to unity. The video, which shows Morris performing in a church, also highlights the issues of immigration, police brutality and Black Lives Matter organizers. A portion of the proceeds go to Black Women’s Health Imperative.
Brothers Osborne, “All Night”
In these pandemic times, Brothers Osborne are here to show us we don’t have to resort to endless jigsaw puzzles as we socially distance alone. Like so many, the protagonist is home alone, bored and running out of ways to entertain himself until the Brothers Osborne save the day by sending him some life-sized puppets to pal around with. In the meantime, the Brothers Osborne deliver a blistering performance of the bluesy, rollicking track. The single is at No. 30 this week on Country Airplay.
Cody Johnson and Reba McEntire, “Dear Rodeo”
Some duets just hit all the right notes. Pairing Texas troubadour Johnson with McEntire might not seem naturally intuitive, but once they sing together on this remake of the tune originally featured on Johnson’s Warner Music Group 2018 debut, Aint Nothin’ To It, you realize how much you needed to hear them together. Both Johnson and McEntire had rodeo careers before their music careers took off and this heartfelt love letter to what they have left behind rings of authenticity, blood, sweat and tears. Johnson’s solo version is already at radio, but canny programmers will play this version as well.
Lee Brice, “More Beer”
Like Brad Paisley’s “No I in Beer” and Thomas Rhett and Jon Pardi’s “Beer Can’t Fix,” Brice’s latest entry is a good-timing, leave-your-troubles-at-the door salute to everyone’s favorite libation. If we were in a time where we could safely socially gather, this rollicking track would be the first tune leading the sing-along in every bar across America.
Cam revisits the ‘50s in this fun, colorful, eye-popping video for her infectious, toe-tapping new single, the Jack Antonoff-produced “Classic.” Filmed at White Limozeen, the new retro Nashville lounge/bar named after the Dolly Parton song, the video takes Cam through recreations of scenes with 50s icons Marilyn Monroe, Lucille Ball and Audrey Hepburn. Consider it visual cotton candy.
Ingrid Andress, “Lady Like”
Fans of Andress are long familiar with this track from her live shows. In the clever mid-tempo followup to “More Hearts Than Mine,” she details all the unconventional ways she is like a lady because she “could bring you to your knees and get you kicked out of the garden of Eden” with her feminine powers, while she also very happily subverts other outdated ways of measuring lady-like behavior such as not talking politics or holding her tongue. A bold new talent continues to impress.
Amanda Shires feat. Jason Isbell, “The Problem”
Released earlier this week in conjunction with International Safe Abortion Day, this duet plays out snippets of conversations any woman likely has had with her partner before making the decision whether to terminate a pregnancy. At a time when Roe v. Wade is in peril of being overturned, Shires turns away from the political to the very personal as her character tries not to think of names and wonders if God still sees her. Quietly wrenching. Proceeds from the song, written in 2016 and based on her decision to have an abortion years ago, go to Alabama’s Yellowhammer Fund, which fights for reproductive justice.
Brandy Clark, “Like Mine”
Like the dark, disturbing “Same Devil,” released last week, Clark and producer Brandi Carlile recorded “Like Mine” during the pandemic. Unlike the menacing “Same Devil,” “Like Mine” is a much more conventional— both musically and lyrically- track that reminds us that despite all our differences in this extremely divided time, “your heart is just like mine.” As uplifting as “Same Devil” is disturbing. Hopefully the pair’s remote work together during COVID-19 will lead to more material because they are a winning pair if there ever was one.
Everette, Kings of the Dairy Queen Parking Lot- Side A
From the ringing guitars of the album’s opening salvo “Can’t Say No” (an update of a song originally released in 2018) to the rowdy Georgia Satellites-like “Dang The Whiskey” and the traditional twang of “Momma I’ll Be Ok,” Kentucky pair of Brent Rupard and Anthony Olympia show off admirable singing, playing and songwriting chops on a set that serves as a veritable buffet of different styles all rooted in country and rock. You can’t help but love a duo who sings, “somebody help me please I’m a stupid SOB” and then reference Otis from “The Andy Griffith Show.”
Larry Fleet, “Where I Find God”
Newcomer Fleet strikes a stirring note on this ballad about where he’s found God, whether in the more traditional church pew or a bar stool or a deer stand. During a time that seems to demand reflection, Fleet —without ever sounding preachy or dogmatic—gently reminds us that God meets us where we are, no matter where we are.
Jason Nix, Money on You
Nix, who has played as a sideman for artists like Canaan Smith and Chase Rice and had cuts recorded by Eli Young Band and the Shires, isn’t reinventing the wheel here, but his songs and voice are instantly ingratiating and grow even more so on repeated listening. Radio ready tracks include uplifting “Money On You,” romantic, driving “Then You Love A Woman”