First Country is a compilation of the best new country songs, videos & albums that dropped this week.
Miranda Lambert, “Strange”
“Country don’t twang/ Rock n’ roll ain’t loud,” laments the Academy of Country Music’s reigning entertainer of the year, in this driving, Western-tinged song from her upcoming album Palomino. Whether she’s dancing the blues away or drinking to numb the crazy, she on the lookout for any moment of peace in a world careening into uncertainty. Her signature graceful-and-gritty vocals lead a balmy, anything goes vibe on this track she co-wrote with Natalie Hemby and Luke Dick.
Breland feat. Thomas Rhett, “Praise The Lord”
New Jersey native Breland is from a family of superbly-talented vocalists and he puts his deep gospel roots to good use here, inviting Thomas Rhett for this track that weaves pop-country hooks with gospel fervor. The lyrics mesh country staples like fried chicken and the duality of Saturday night drinking and Sunday hymns, blending it all up with praise for East Atlanta and Hemi engines. Breland and Thomas Rhett debuted this country-gospel hybrid on Monday’s Academy of Country Music Awards.
Kenny Chesney, “Everyone She Knows” (Video)
Chesney’s new song, an ode to freethinking, free-wheeling women who chase their dreams and refuse to succumb to societal pressures, gets a visual companion in this clip, directed by Chesney’s longtime collaborator Shaun Silva of Tacklebox Films. Similar to Chesney’s previous video, “Knowing You,” this new video makes use of sweeping, panoramic views to highlight the song’s intensity. In this case, the sun-drenched video gives vivid detail to a woman’s devotion to adventure, nature and her own ambitions, following her travels through coastal highways, the Grand Canyon, thick forests and watching sunsets in the desert.
Randy Houser, “Note to Self”
The song, written by Houser, Ross Copperman, Casey Beathard and Bobby Pinson, follows in a rich tradition of country “wisdom songs.” Nuggets of advice such as “God ain’t gonna do the prayin’ for ya/ Whiskey’s better left up on the shelf” populate this track. Though Houser’s booming and nuanced country baritone is as captivating as ever, there are better songs in this country sub-genre (including Pinson’s own 2005 track “Don’t Ask Me How I Know”). Houser recently became the flagship artist for Magnolia Music Group.
Jimmie Allen, “Down Home”
Allen offers a lovely sentimental track here, an ode to his late father James “Big Jim” Allen, who died in 2019. Sonically, this track retains the breezy pop-country vibe of his previous hits, but delves into some of his most personal writing to date. The track vividly details how his father’s memory and impact continues, whether Allen is riding in a truck listening to his father’s favorite Charley Pride songs, or wearing his father’s favorite baseball number. The latest track from the reigning CMA new artist of the year is a winner.
William Beckmann, “Danced All Night Long”
This Del Rio, Texas, native counts Radney Foster as a mentor, and his new single is indebted equally to country sounds popular in the 1950s and 1960s as to the mariachi and Norteño sounds of his childhood. The bilingual track highlights his smooth vocal, with nods to George Strait, while breezes of horns and acoustic guitar propel this country waltz, a tale of a love stemming from a chance meeting and dance after dance in a Mexican cantina. “Danced All Night Long” is featured on his album Faded Memories, out April 29.
Erin Kinsey, “Just Drive”
As a songwriter, Kinsey earned her big break as a co-writer on “PINK,” a song recorded by Dolly Parton, Sara Evans, Monica and more as part of an initiative for the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Here, she weaves a breezy tale of someone who just wants a moonlit night drive, an open road ahead and her lover by her side. Kinsey’s lilting, emotionally-fueled vocal tugs at the heartstrings here, and she wrote the song with Michael August and Josh Ronan. Kinsey will release her debut EP 40 East on March 25 via RECORDS Nashville.
Tyler Dial, “Runnin’ Downhill”
With cooly defiant, just slightly distorted vocals and scorching guitar, this musical admonition oozes swagger. Dial paid his dues playing Austin clubs and spending his nights while a student at University of Texas playing college parties. After heading to Nashville, he released his debut EP in 2018. With “Runnin’ Downhill,” he further raises his songwriting and blazing production up several notches. Dial recently signed a label deal with Virgin Music.