Florida Georgia Line, Life Rolls On
Since breaking through in 2012 with their smash hit “Cruise,” Florida Georgia Line have been a model of consistency in country music, never going more than two-and-a-half years without releasing a new album. Fifth full-length Life Rolls On is the duo’s first that cannot be actively enjoyed by packed arenas and festival crowds upon release, but until the touring industry can overcome the pandemic, Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley have offered a balm for tough times, as they toast the simple pleasures on “Life Looks Good” and salute America on “U.S. Stronger.” — JASON LIPSHUTZ
Ryan Hurd with Maren Morris, “Chasing After You”
Hurd and Morris have sung on each other’s records before but this is their first official duet and it’s a beauty. The sultry tune, written by Brinley Addington and Jerry Flowers, perfectly describes the vicissitudes of a burgeoning relationship and the inability to stay away. Bring on a full album of duets!
Blake Shelton, “Minimum Wage”
Directed by Todd Stefani, brother of Shelton’s fiance, Gwen Stefani, at Shelton’s Ole Red venue in Tishomingo, Okla., the performance clip of Shelton’s rising hit about being love rich even if money poor is a straight ahead performance clip that will make Shelton and concert fans sorely miss both. As for all those fans seemingly shoulder to shoulder in the video, Shelton said in a statement it’s an optical illusion: “Of course, everyone had to be pre-tested and re-tested and temperature checks and social distance. I’m still amazed by the camerawork and how it looks like Ole Red is packed with people knowing there were just a handful of people actually on site.”
Jameson Rodgers and Luke Combs, “Cold Beer Calling My Name”
Labelmates Rodgers and Combs assume the roles of beer deliverymen in the video for their hit. It turns out they and their big rig make house calls in this lighthearted clip that matches the song’s feel-good tone. The only remaining question is how much did Miller Lite pay for the product placement?
Lily Rose, “Villain”
Newcomer Lily Rose make a striking Big Loud debut with this tune about her willingness to be the bad one in a past relationship if it helps her ex-partner sleep at night. “What they don’t know is I tried to make us work it out/but I couldn’t save it,” she sings in a throaty delivery full of regret. A promising new talent.
Callista Clark, Real to Me
Teenager Clark arrives with confidence and verve on her debut EP for Big Machine. Clark, who co-wrote the five tracks on the set, shines on first single “It’s Cause I Am,” a tune with a Bonnie Raitt swagger, while “Heartbreak Song” and the title track show off her fine voice. “Don’t Need It Anymore” shows a sweet vulnerability. For readers of credits and signs, Nathan Chapman, who worked with a young Taylor Swift, produced the set.
Brad Paisley, “Off Road”
Paisley‘s latest entry, complete with one of his usual tasty guitar solos, is about a woman who definitely isn’t taking the beaten path after moving from Tennessee to Malibu. “She didn’t move out here to fail/she’s going to blaze a brand new trail.” Running out of black top may give others pause, but not Paisley’s gal— She can go anywhere/ain’t nothing out of reach,” he sings. But Paisley provides a warning if you plan on riding shotgun, literally or romantically: “You want to love her/I tell you what/ trust me boy/you better buckle up.”
Hannah Dasher, “Left Right”
New Sony Nashville signee Dasher is as country as they come, down to the Dolly Parton-like big hair, and clever wordplay. In this twangy, rollicking tune, she advises a beau if he wants to keep his woman, he better put a ring on it or he’ll be “left right” one morning. “If you want it, you better put a ring on her left right now.”
Emma White, “Thirties”
White issues this empowering salute about life in her 30s and the confidence that comes with entering a new decade. “In my 30s, I finally feel a little more like me… but I’m still learning/giving up on getting it perfect/not chasing anything that’s not worth it,” she sings with a wisdom that only comes with age. Will resonate with anyone who is headed into that seminal decade, is there now, or can reflect back on the self-determination that time brought.