Keith Urban, “Wild Hearts”
Urban has written autobiographical songs before — often about his relationship with wife Nicole Kidman. But on this new track, he dives deep into his childhood, referencing seeing his dad mesmerized when they went to see Johnny Cash, as he weaves an infectious tale about following your dreams and not listening to anyone who tells you they aren’t worth chasing. It’s hard to imagine anyone ever failed to recognize Urban’s talent, but his wildly upbeat, aspirational anthem will have you singing along by the time the chorus hits repeat and raising your fist in unison when the crowd noise comes in toward the end. — MELINDA NEWMAN
Kane Brown, “One Mississippi”
Brown is in fine vocal form on this his new single, a catchy, up-tempo singalong about those delicious moments of anticipation when you’re waiting to be reunited with your lover. In the video, the protagonist passes time at a carnival as the time ticks by way too slowly before they are together again. Brown wrote the song with Levon Gray, who contacted Brown via Instagram — and now not only has a Brown cut, but is signed to his publishing company. He may soon also have his first No. 1. — M.N.
Kenny Chesney, “Beautiful World”
Oh the latest track from the deluxe version of Here and Now, Chesney, within the relaxed musical vibe he has perfected, revels in positivity and wonder about the world around him — from the simple joys of new guitar strings and jukebox dances to star-filled skies stretching across the horizon. The accompanying video, filmed primarily in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, continues Chesney’s long-held love of sand and sea.
Mickey Guyton, “All American”
Guyton penned her latest effort with Victoria Banks, Emma-Lee and Karen Kosowski, the same all-female writing collective behind Guyton’s breakthrough track, “What Are You Gonna Tell Her?,” which addressed gender inequality. Its successor, “Black Like Me,” addressed racial injustices. With lyrics depicting images of backroads, football games, church pews, Texas stars and New York City lights, “All American” embodies a less specific, though still thoroughly uplifting, message of unity. The song comes from Guyton’s full-length debut album, Remember Her Name, due Sept. 24.
Old Dominion, “All I Know About Girls”
Old Dominion’s lead vocalist Matthew Ramsey may be adamant that his prowess is limited when it comes to women, but this track further cements that the band has plenty of expertise in crafting hits. The song’s lyrics flow over silky guitar work, and the signature brand of radio-friendly, catchy melodies that has earned Old Dominion smash hits like “One Man Band.” The group’s members penned the song with longtime collaborators Shane McAnally and Josh Osborne.
Chris Janson, “Bye Mom”
In this tearjerker of a ballad, Janson pays heartfelt tribute to the enduring, lifelong love mothers have for their children, whether they are just starting kindergarten or fully grown. Filled with wisdom and remembrance, Janson proves he’s as adept with a sentimental lyric and subdued instrumentation as he is with flashy harmonica solos and amped up, arena-ready tunes like previous hits “Good Vibes” and “Buy Me a Boat.” Janson penned the song alongside Brandon Kinney.
Runaway June, backstory
After a lineup shakeup in 2020, this all-female group welcomed Natalie Stovall into the fold alongside longtime Naomi Cooke and Jennifer Wayne. Runaway June‘s new three-song set follows their 2020 holiday EP When I Think About Christmas. The harmony-soaked collection, including songs “Down The Middle,” “Forgot About That,” and “T-Shirt,” weaves a tight-knit storyline of thriving after a romantic breakup. Notably, Wayne is a co-writer on another of today’s First Country entries, Urban’s “Wild Hearts.”
Sam Williams, Glasshouse Children
Williams is country music royalty — he’s the grandson of Hank Williams and son of Hank Williams Jr. — but it’s his grandpa who he most recalls on his compelling major label debut. He’s not stone cold country; stylistically, he veers from country to rock and pop. But emotionally, he taps into his grandfather’s often haunting vulnerability. Not many rookies get to duet with Dolly Parton, as Williams does here on the moving, wistful “Happy All The Time,” or draw on the poignant family legacy on “Can’t Fool Your Own Blood.” Keith Urban joins him for the dreamy pop tune, “Kids,” but Williams goes it solo on the aching “The World: Alone,” which took on devastating new meaning after his sister died suddenly in June. –M.N.
Carter Faith, Let Love Be Love
On this six-song EP, newcomer Faith’s whisper-soft voice invites listeners deep into her vulnerably-crafted, detailed stories. This North Carolina native pleads for more from a lover on the haunting, Western-tinged soul of “Lasso,” (penned with Jen Stegall) while elsewhere, she extols living in the moment on songs like “Joyride” (penned with Margaret Valentine and Stegall), having faith in love (“Cowboys and Dreamers,” penned with Steve Moakler), and determines she won’t let reality spoil her good time (“Pipe Dream,” penned with Sean McConnell and Ashley Ray).
Brooke Eden, “Got No Choice” (Dave Audé Remix)
Eden’s recent release “Got No Choice,” a celebratory, passionate ode to her love with now-fiancée Hilary Hoover, gets a club-ready remix courtesy of hitmaker Dave Audé, best known for his work with Madonna, Jennifer Lopez, Lady Gaga, Maren Morris and more. Powered by a pulsating electronic groove, Eden’s voice sounds more powerful and euphoric than ever.