First Country is a compilation of the best new country songs, videos & albums that dropped this week.
Keith Urban, “Nightfalls”
This reliable hitmaker teams with two co-writers known for a bevy of mostly pop hits, teaming with Greg Kurstin (Adele, Beck, Maren Morris) and Mozella (Madonna, Rihanna). This uptempo, keys- and synth-filled track is a perfect summer kickoff.
Caitlyn Smith, “Dreamin’s Free”
Smith is one of Nashville’s most versatile creatives, with a top-notch songwriting talent that has crafted songs recorded by Dolly Parton, John Legend and Meghan Trainor, Garth Brooks and others. She also possesses a powerful, nuanced vocal that blends shadings of pop and country.
On this lilting track Smith co-wrote with Shane McAnally and Lori McKenna, she knows that she and her loved one aren’t flush with cash, but dreaming and wishing of days in Paris or a trip to Yellowstone doesn’t cost a thing. Smith’s upcoming album High releases April 8.
Flatland Cavalry, “Daydreamer”
The members of Texas-originated band Flatland Cavalry have been playing together for years and their practiced, tight-knit musicianship is highlighted on this video, the second release from their video series, Far Out West Sessions. The series strips down songs from their album Welcome to Countryland to their most essential elements. Here, with the group culled to a trio with just acoustic guitar, banjo and fiddle, this track is a dreamy country mix. The video was filmed at several locations across the Trans-Pecos region of Texas, in celebration of their musical roots and their homestate.
Sarah Darling, “Hungover”
This smooth, anthemic track is a deceptively breezy ode to the heartbroken space between a relationship ending and the emotional acceptance of the dissolved relationship. Darling’s voice is a perfect vessel for this pop-inflected track, which will be included on her upcoming EP, set to release later this year.
Chapel Hart, “Made For Me” video
This Mississippi family trio, which includes sisters Danica and Devynn Hart with their cousin Trea Swindle, pays homage to their own dreams and ambitions in this punchy track that showcases their gorgeous harmonies. They love their Poplarville, Miss. roots, but they’ve got their sights set on something bigger. “I’ve gotta go run and chase this life that was made for me,” they sing. A winner for fans of a twangy, ’90s country throwback sound.
Triston Marez feat. Jenna Paulette, “Once in a Blue Moon”
Houston native Marez teamed with Country Music Hall of Fame member Ronnie Dunn on a previous outing. Here, Marez is paired rising Texas artist Paulette for a steady, stomping track that highlights their nice harmony blend, with propulsive guitar and flourishes of organ.
Written by Trea Landon, Faren Rachels and Nate Kenyon, this song highlights the emotional push and pull of two sometime-lovers who pretend the occasional night together is enough, but it’s clear there are deeper longings simmering just below the surface.
Ashley Cooke feat. Brett Young, “Never ‘Til Now”
Cooke previously released a solo version of this tender, romantic ballad, but soulful vocalist and hitmaker Brett Young brings an extra heft of emotion. The sparse accompaniment, a gentle, rolling guitar, highlights their superb vocal blend.
Karley Scott Collins, “Tattoos”
The memories of all the moments she shared with a loved one are as permanent as ink on skin. Karley Scott Collins’ voice is sufficiently gritty, the guitar work bluesy and fitting for the notes of bittersweet nostalgia that fill this track. Collins wrote this moody, sultry piece with Brock Berryhill and Brett James.