First Country is a compilation of the best new country songs, videos and albums that dropped this week.
There was no shortage of country releases this week. Some noteworthy projects include Blake Shelton’s latest collaboration with Trace Adkins, “Hell Right,” which has the pair throwing shade at Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road,” Hunter Hayes’ surprise album Wild Blue, Part 1, which is the first of a trilogy, and Brandon Ratcliff’s most personal song to date, “Slow Down Hometown,” featuring stunning harmonies from Alison Krauss.
From Tenille Townes’ heartbreaking “Jersey on the Wall (I’m Just Asking)” to Vince Gill’s poignant “Forever Changed,” below are five striking country songs to reflect on this weekend.
Jon Pardi, “Tequila Little Time”
No one lightens a mood better than Jon Pardi. The affable country singer dropped the feel-good “Tequila Little Time,” where he approaches a saddened girl at the bar. Offering a shot of tequila he cleverly asks, “Tequila little time with you.” A mesmerizing horn section introduces the infectious song, which is further fleshed out by accordion accompaniment and delicate plucks of the guitar. The track is featured on Pardi’s forthcoming album Heartache Medication, out Sept. 27.
Old Dominion, “My Heart Is a Bar”
Old Dominion tug on the heartstrings on the emotional piano ballad “My Heart Is a Bar,” the latest song released from their upcoming self-titled third studio album due out Oct. 25. A relatable sentiment about feeling alone, frontman Matthew Ramsey says “My Heart Is a Bar” might be “the loneliest sing-a-long of all time.” On the track, he laments of feeling alone and likens his heart to a bar at closing time. “My heart is a bar and I’m closing it down,” he croons.
Randy Travis, “Lead Me Home”
Recorded years prior to his stroke in 2013, “Lead Me Home” has Randy Travis singing of the need for his woman to be by his side. The country legend’s booming baritone is at the heart of the traditional song, which includes soaring fiddle accompaniment and foot stomping beats. “Lead Me Home” encompasses an effortless warmth that only Travis’ vocals can deliver.
Tenille Townes, “Jersey on the Wall (I’m Just Asking)”
Townes’ knack for writing story songs that make the listener stop and think is evidenced throughout her debut single, “Somebody’s Daughter,” and the stirring follow-up, “Jersey on the Wall (I’m Just Asking).” The singer previously told Billboard the song was inspired by a community she met on a school tour in Canada before moving to Nashville where the town had recently witnessed a deadly car accident with five kids from the high school.
A teenager named Danielle was killed in the wreck and Townes penned the powerful track about the town’s heartbreak and the “long list of questions” those left behind have for God following tragedy. Her wavering vocals only further the emotion evidenced within each lyric of “Jersey on the Wall (I’m Just Asking)” especially when she asks, “Why couldn’t you stop that car from crashing?”
Vince Gill, “Forever Changed”
Gill’s soothing vocals are at the heart of “Forever Changed,” a deeply personal song about the singer’s experience with attempted sexual abuse. A stripped down piano ballad that highlights Gill’s hurt within each line, the singer hopes the song will give a voice to survivors of trauma. “I knew it was important for people to hear—it’s a real thing and you can’t sweep it under the rug,” Gill said in a statement. “It’s a story about sexual abuse and grew out of an incident that happened to me in junior high school—I was lucky and I escaped, but who knows how my life could have been different had I not gotten away.”