First Country is a compilation of the best new country songs, videos and albums that dropped this week.
Sam Hunt, “Breaking Up Was Easy in the ‘90s”
Technology isn’t always our friend, especially when it comes to affairs of the broken heart, Hunt laments in this slinky track from Southside. Delivered in his trademark spoken/sung style, Hunt can’t escape his ex on this slow jam because her photos are always popping up on his social media and, even worse, he can’t pretend that she’s called and he missed like call like people could in the ‘90s.
Brothers Osborne, Skeletons
“Got skeletons in your closet/and I’ve got bones to pick with them,” growls TJ Osborne on the brotherly duo’s third studio album. The boldness never lets up on the collection as they unleash a kinetic energy on such tracks as “All Night” and “Lighten Up.”
There’s a confidence here (check out swampy, fun instrumental “Muskrat Greene), but there’s also heart on tracks like “Make It A Good One” and “Hatin’ Somebody.” Brothers Osborne go from strength to strength.
Justin Moore, “We Didn’t Have Much”
In a preview to his forthcoming album, Moore looks back on growing up on in “a little bitty house and a lot of love,” and yet, he never felt anything less than abundance. The mid-tempo, swaying acoustic track veers down the well-trod nostalgia path in an affectionate sweet way in this cinematic track.
“I think its a poignant lyric for this time in our lives,” Moore said in a statement of the song written by Jeremy Stover, Randy Montana and Paul DiGiovanni. “2020 has led my family and I to lead a more simple life than what we are accustomed to, and this song speaks to the beauty in that simplicity.”
Lindsay Ell, “Want Me Back”
In this lush throwback video to Ell’s current single, Ell is half of famous duo, Eddie & Ell. But all is not well behind the cameras. She ditches her controlling partner and soars as a solo artist in a nod to famous professional/personal splits of the past like Sonny & Cher. A feast for the eyes as well as the eyes. Ell should sell that shade of red lipstick on her website.
Laine Hardy, “Tiny Town”
Hardy, American Idol season 17 winner, adds one more entry into the never-ending canon of country songs exalting the pleasures of small-town life, including waving to your neighbors, enjoying a home-cooked meal, and congregating at high school football games on Friday and church on Sunday. The acoustic melody has an easy-going appeal similar to Tim McGraw’s “I Called Mama,” boosted by Hardy’s genial delivery.
Gone West, “I’m Never Getting You”
“I want the end to be easier than the start,” Colbie Caillat sings in Gone West‘s gorgeous piano-based ballad. Turns out the song, about the end of the relationship, also serves as the co-ed quartet’s swan song as they have called it quits. Add in that she and her ex-fiance Justin Young are singing too each other and the drama is all too real. It plays out elegantly and poignantly in the stark black and white video.
Runaway June, “When We Were Rich”
Remember when running through the sprinkler in the front yard or a little league game was all you needed to feel like you were living the high life? Runaway June amplifies that idea in the video for “When We Were Rich,” showcasing as Moore does, that wealth is measured in much more than dollars.
Kassi Ashton, “Black Motorcycle”
Ashton’s rebellious attitude is front and center on this woozy rock track where she lauds the joys of “lay[ing] back on the back of your black motorcycle” with her modern day Easy Rider as they ride into the metaphorical sunset. She has partnered with Harley Davidson as one of its brand ambassadors after she performed for the motorcycle manufacturer last fall. Seems like a great way to get the song out given the perhaps limited scope of the material.
Chase Martin, “Levi Denim”
Martin is all sass and swagger in this twangy song as she appreciates her own assets and is betting that others will too. It feels a little too much like a commercial for Levis, but it’s a bold statement that she delivers with confidence and serves well as a memorable, if potentially polarizing, introduction.