First Country is a compilation of new country songs, videos & albums that dropped this week.
Kip Moore, “Damn Love” (Video)
The title track to Moore’s upcoming April 28 album, Moore delivers one of his fiercest vocals to date on the title track from his upcoming April 28 album, written by Jason Gantt, Jaren Johnston and James McNair. Moore’s signature passionate, blue-collar scruff of a voice wrings every nuance of longing and heartbreak out of the song’s straightforward musings on the illustrious highs and crushing valleys of love.
Rosanne Cash and John Leventhal, “I Am a Pilgrim”
On Friday (March 3), Doc Watson would have celebrated his 100th birthday. Here, Cash and Leventhal offer a sweetly sparse arrangement of the folk song “I Am a Pilgrim,” which Watson included in nearly every live show. Tasteful acoustic guitar work elevates Cash’s voice, which is both wisened and packed with warmth. “I Am a Pilgrim” is the second release from the upcoming Doc Watson tribute album, I Am a Pilgrim: Doc Watson at 100, which releases April 28 and features artists including Dolly Parton, Jerry Douglas, Valerie June and Steve Earle.
Southerland, “World Without You”
Southerland’s Matt Chase and Chris Rogers wrote this track along with Greg Bates and Jessi Alexander. In “World Without You” a guy muses what his life would be like sans his lover, comparing it to Tennessee without its “guitar town,” or Texas without its signature gruffness. The earnest lyrics get elevate by rippling guitars, shining production and the duo’s smooth harmonies.
Juliana Riccardi, “Right on Time”
Riccardi’s lilting voice and moody acoustic guitar flourishes are an elegant foil for this sweetly assuring song about carving your own path in your own time. “Don’t hold on too tight, and don’t hold on for spite/ What ain’t working out is teaching you to steer,” she sings. “Right on Time” is part of Riccardi’s two-song The Nashville Sessions project, co-produced and mixed by Nick Bullock.
Jenna Paulette, “Anywhere the Wind Blows”
Paulette, who releases her debut album The Girl I Was on March 31, takes a confident, carefree approach to her new single, “Anywhere the Wind Blows,” written by Paulette with Rhett Akins, Will Bundy and Jeb Gipson. Paulette brings a lilting Texas twang to a song that, not unlike Jo Dee Messina’s 1996 hit “Heads Carolina, Tails California,” envisions a range of places she and her sweetheart could set off to, from the Carolinas to Texas. “You be the tumbleweed/ I’ll be the feather, I don’t care as long as we’re together,” she sings in this promising track, backed by sweet fiddle lines and a bed of laid-back percussion.
The Panhandlers, “Tough Country”
The Panhandlers, a collection of music veterans that include Josh Abbott, John Baumann, William Clark Green and Flatland Cavalry’s Cleto Cordero, formed The Panhandlers in 2019 and a year later released their debut album in 2020. On Friday (March 3), they returned with their second project, the 14-track Tough Country. On the sterling title track, they pay homage to the rugged Texas countryside that shaped members of a family for generations, a place “in the land before the lazy chair, power pole, Frigidaire.” The expertly-crafted, softly played track is tinged with both wistfulness and sadness, and an urgency to soak in the tough Texas land’s beauty, knowing “it’d bring a tear to my grandpa’s eye/ Knowing every good thing dies.” The song concludes with a knowledge that one day, more generations of the family will return to the land where their generational roots have held for so many years. The album also includes Santa Fe, a song written by the late Guy Clark, but never released until it was included on Tough Country.