Carly Pearce, 29
Pearce isn’t afraid to dig deep in this self-penned 7-song EP that chronicles her past year that saw the death of her mentor busbee and the dissolution of her marriage to Michael Ray. From the sassy “Next Girl” to the cautionary “Should’ve Known Better” and the wistful “Show Me Around,” Pearce finds strength in showing her vulnerability and sounds great doing it.
Lauren Alaina and Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him”
Sometimes romance isn’t on the menu for the night. Instead, it’s all about the mutual decision to use each other to get over someone else. Alaina and Pardi make a no-strings-attached tryst sound deliciously good on this sultry duet.
Kalie Shorr, “Amy”
Shorr goes full-on rock with assistance from revered pop/rock producer Butch Walker for this power-pop nugget that jumps out of the speakers. Shorr addresses his ex’s new girl (and her former friend) with a vitriol akin to Alanis Morrisette’s “You Oughta Know.” You really can’t beat a line like “He wasn’t over me when you were under him” for pure shade.
Niko Moon, “No Sad Songs”
With “Good Time” continuing to rise, Niko Moon keeps the party going with this toe-tapper, driven by an insistent rat-a-tat loop, that calls for nothing but a good time after a “long week, gone wrong week.” A good one to chase away the week. Between “No Sad Songs,” “Paradise to Me” and “Good Time,” Moon is a one-man party.
Loretta Lynn and Margo Price, “One’s on the Way”
Loretta Lynn and Margo Price remake Lynn’s 1972 classic, penned by Shel Silverstein. The references to Liz (Taylor), Jackie (Onassis), Debbie (Reynolds) and other icons of the era, as well as the sentiment that “the pill may change the world tomorrow,” will likely go over the head of anyone under 40, but the sentiment of having too many kids underfoot and the clever commentary on life from a fly-over state resonates, especially when matched with Lynn and Price’s great delivery. The track appears on Still Woman Enough, Lynn’s 50th studio album, out March 19.
Amythyst Kiah, “Black Myself”
Americana artist Kiah remakes “Black Myself” with a rendition that will put peel the paint off the walls. Her blistering reimagining of the track — originally featured on Our Native Daughters’ acclaimed 2019 set, Songs of Our Native Daughters — puts it in a rock setting, with her vocals front and center, and adds a riveting urgency. A must-listen about living in the land of white privilege, especially when she sings such searing lines as “You better lock your doors with I walk by, ‘cause I’m Black myself/ You look me in my eyes, but you don’t see me, ‘cause I’m Black myself.”
Walker Hayes, “I Hope You Miss Me”
Hayes, who has kept fans entertained during the pandemic with Instagram posts of him and his six children, returns with a song written about his daughter, as he looks ahead to a time when she has headed to Hollywood to follow her dreams of being an actress. You don’t have to be a parent to connect with the genial well wishes Hayes expresses in the song, and you have to salute his ability to rhyme “J-Lo” with “Rodeo.”
Ashley Monroe, “Drive”
Monroe, one-third of Pistol Annies, returns to her solo career with this atmospheric, sensual track where the lyric “felt so good to have your hands on the wheel” serves as a sly double entendre in a song full of them. With an insinuating guitar line and Monroe’s ethereal vocals, this one is a welcome return as the opening blast from her upcoming April 30 set, Rosegold.
Jaden Hamilton, “Bad Spot”
Teenage TikTok sensation Hamilton follows up “Found Myself in a Country Song” with this clever track that compares the end of a relationship to faulty cell phone service. “I lost you in a bad spot,” he sings on this country sleeper — which leads to his love interest “breaking up on me.”
Kylie Morgan, “Shoulda”
Things would have gone differently if Morgan had stayed home the night before — but if she had, we wouldn’t have this full-blooded stomp of a song full of raging guitars and half-hearted regrets. An early morning walk of shame seldom sounded like so much fun.
Tiera featuring Breland, “Miles”
Hot newcomers come together beautifully on this gently swaying, toe-tapping ballad that combines pop and country as Tiera and Breland sing about a love built to go the distance. Instantly catchy.
SmithField, “Sunday Best”
This co-ed duo of Trey Smith and Jennifer Fielder return with a sweet, harmony-filled mid-tempo tune about accepting your partner for the “beautiful mess” they are — and that, in fact, the more real they are, the more the love grows.
Redferrin, “Red In My Last Name”
New Warner signee and former motocross racer Blake Redferrin makes a striking debut with a twangy, banjo-driven tune meant to convince listeners of his country bonafides, as he declares, “I’ve got blue in my collar, got some dirt on my boots, I got some green in my wallet… I do what I wanna, because I got red in my last name.” Sounds like a throwback to ‘90s country in a good way.
Charley Crockett, “Lesson In Depression”
Crockett throws back to the ‘60s with “Lesson in Depression,” a soulful, shuffling pedal steel-laced track written by the late James “Slim” Hand that sounds straight out of a George Jones album of yore. Crockett does his idol, who died last year, proud here.