First Country is a compilation of the best new country songs, videos & albums that dropped this week.
Luke Bryan, “Country On”
Just in time for July 4th weekend, Bryan releases this musical tribute to farmer, big rig truckers, cowboys, firefighters and soldiers (“hats off to keeping us free,” Bryan sings), but also honors Nashville’s song crafters. The sunny production here is classic Bryan, while the lyrics blend patriotism, blue-collar grit and gratefulness. A perfect playlist addition for summer.
Little Big Town, “All Summer”
A chance meeting on a lazy day spent poolside leads to flirting and the possibility of a summer fling. The song’s sultry, ’80s-styled groove, accented with handclaps and elevated by the group’s always-stellar harmonies, make for the perfect low-key summertime anthem. Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild wrote this track with Sarah Buxton, Madi Diaz, Ashley Ray, Savana Santos and Alyssa Vanderheym.
Keith Urban, “Brown Eyes Baby”
Urban previewed the track during a performance on TODAY’s Citi Concert Series. The slow jam’s comforting lyrics feel like a callback (and perhaps answer to) the Crystal Gayle classic “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue,” as well as Urban’s own previous hit “Blue Ain’t Your Color,” especially with the key lyric, “I can take the blue out of your brown eyes baby.” Urban cuts a smooth groove here, bolstered by potent lead guitar work.
Brian Kelley, “American Spirit”
This ultra-patriotic track pays homage to Kelley’s “Poppy,” John Edward Kelley, who served in the Army in WWII, becoming a POW and earning two Purple Hearts. The track extends the pop-country amalgam found in Kelley’s work with Florida Georgia Line, while his solo efforts allow him the freedom to expand slightly on his lyrical palette. Here, he pays tribute to the big city and small-town workers in a tune that radio programmers should find a perfect fit for the July 4th holidays.
Kylie Morgan, “If He Wanted To He Would”
This is the musical equivalent of a best friend/older sister type helping a friend make sense of an ex-lover’s hazy mixed messages. She details all the ways a friend has been over-analyzing and putting too much hope into non-committal gestures, whether he’s still talking to her brother, liking an old social media photo, or sending a drunk 2 a.m. text. Keen songwriting, a breezy melody and Morgan’s intriguing voice make for an ace effort. Morgan wrote the song with Zandi Holup and Ben Johnson, while the track is from EMI Nashville artist Morgan’s EP, P.S., which releases today (July 1).
Charlie Daniels, “Long Haired Country Boy” (Live)
This August, Charlie Daniels & Friends: Volunteer Jam 1- 1974-The Legend Begins will boast live recordings from the late legend’s inaugural Volunteer Jam in 1974 at Nashville’s War Memorial Auditorium. That includes this rendition of the group’s classic “Long Haired Country Boy,” included on their signature Fire on the Mountain album, which released the same year. While the album features musicians including Allman Brothers founder Dickey Betts, late Marshall Tucker Band guitarist Toy Caldwell and previous drummer Paul Riddle, it’s the overall sizzling, free-wheeling jam band style of playing, led by Daniels’ razor-sharp fiddle work, that most command attention, illuminating the band’s potent passion for performance.