First Country is a compilation of the best new country songs, videos and albums that dropped this week.
Lady A feat. Darius Rucker, Thomas Rhett and Carly Pearce, “Friends Don’t Let Friends”
As country artists are currently churning out several collaborations, trio Lady A offers another one that gives heartbreak an uptempo soundtrack with the help of Darius Rucker, Thomas Rhett and Carly Pearce. “If you’re gonna make a bad decision/ you shouldn’t make it on your own,” they sing in this rowdy, joyous singalong that culminates in lush harmonies and impromptu banter.
Jenny Tolman, “I Know Some Cowboys”
With her previous release, There Goes The Neighborhood, Tolman’s songs like “High Class White Trash” proved she’s capable of infusing her music with in-your-face humor and witty lyrics that have become increasingly rare in country music. Today, Tolman releases “I Know Some Cowboys,” the lead track from her upcoming album Married in A Honky-Tonk, out on Old Sol Records. The ‘90s country-inspired track is a fiddle and steel-fueled warning to her lover that he better “two-step up,” because she’s met plenty of chivalrous cowboys from Amarillo to Odessa. Tolman penned the track with her fiancé and producer Dave Brainard along with Billy Whyte.
Additionally, Tolman released the ballad “Lonely in the Lone Star,” a song she was asked to perform at the funeral of Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum, who was among the 13 U.S. soldiers killed during an August bombing at the Kabul airport.
MacKenzie Porter, “Heaven Heard Me”
Porter has earned three No. 1 hits in her native Canada and she’s currently in the Top 10 on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart thanks to her collaboration with Dustin Lynch, “Thinking ‘Bout You.” Now, on her latest solo release the Big Loud Records artist is thanking heaven for finding true love. This glossy confection swirls with gratitude as bright piano and guitar wrap around Porter’s exuberant vocals. Porter wrote the track, produced by Joey Moi, with Dave Cohen and Steven Lee Olsen.
Abby Anderson, “Bad Posture”
While Anderson is known for her 2018 release “Make Him Wait,” a wholesome tale about waiting for the right one to come along, the newly-independent artist is now delving deeper into past pain and coming out stronger. “I’d shrink myself to make you feel taller,” Anderson sings, backed by angsty, sparse piano in this cathartic, bare-bones confessional as she recalls the ways an ex made her feel small and insignificant. But she emerges triumphant by the first chorus as her moody vocal rendering swells into an airy upper register revealing both joy and relief as she sings, “I used to have bad posture/ but since you’ve been gone I stand up straight.”
Anderson co-wrote the track alongside Anna Vaus with production from Marshall Altman. She released independently via Stem.
Joy Oladokun feat. Jason Isbell, “I Can’t Make You Love Me” (Spotify Singles)
Oladokun’s velvety voice is backed by spacious percussion on this cover of Bonnie Raitt’s 1991 classic, which was released as part of the Spotify Singles series. Here, Isbell’s vibrant guitar work answers Oladokun’s more subdued — but every bit as potent — vocal interpretation of the lyrics. On Oct. 23, Oladokun will open for Isbell at the Ryman Auditorium and next year will launch her first headlining tour.
Wade Bowen, “When Love Comes Around”
“Gotta dance when the band’s downtown/ gotta get lost to get found/ gotta love when love comes around,” sings Texas mainstay Bowen on this joyous love song, bolstered by jangly mandolins, guitars, banjos and uplifting percussion. Two decades into his music career, Bowen’s music retains a newcomer’s energetic fervor, melded with his signature blend of sounds from across the wide spectrum of Texas music.
The track, which Bowen wrote with Heather Morgan and Eric Paslay, is from Bowen’s upcoming Paul Moak-produced EP Where Phones Don’t Work out Nov. 19 via Thirty Tigers.
The Cadillac Three, “Devil’s Lettuce” (video)
“Gettin’ higher than heaven on the devil’s lettuce,” sings Jaren Johnston, Neil Mason and Kelby Ray on this celebration of all things 4/20-related. The track, which salutes a “puff puff pass” as a perfect way to unwind after a long day, gets an added punch from the newly-released animated video helmed by Shane Pielocik. The clip also nods to some of the trio’s good buddies: Brent Cobb and Brothers Osborne.
Jon Langston, “When You’re Lonely”
On his latest musical outing, Langston wises up to a partner’s habit of keeping them in an on-again, off-again relationship. “It happens every time, make up your damn mind, you know we can’t be just friends,” sings the 32 Bridge Entertainment/EMI Records Nashville artist. Langston penned the track, which has an extra edge thanks to his slightly gritty vocal, alongside Jody Stevens.
Kassi Ashton, “Heavyweight”
Since her debut, Ashton has been known for writing biting, tell-it-like-it-is songs, and this latest release is a worthy addition to that mission. “Heavyweight,” which Ashton wrote with Luke Laird and Hillary Lindsey, reverberates with swagger as her vocal swerves from soft and sultry to full-throated confidence while giving a steely-eyed dare to her lover to be forthright with her about his intentions to end the relationship: “I can handle your hardest shot/ give me what you got/ I’ve seen way worse than you.”