First Country is a compilation of the best new country songs, videos & albums that dropped this week.
Shania Twain, “Giddy Up!”
Shania knows her way around an energetic, danceable song, including her latest “Giddy Up!,” from her upcoming album Queen of Me, out Feb. 3. Eschewing a high-gloss pop finish, she instead relies on pulsating acoustic guitar to offer an assertive rhythm that matches the arena-sized confidence in her lyrics, which (similar to some of her mega-hits such as “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!”) advocate for living your best life right now–or as Twain puts it, “Time to shine like I know you should.”
Elle King, “Tulsa”
From the first rollicking guitar notes, King brings her signature intrepid swagger, delighting in exposing a cheating lover. The song’s hook centers on her ex hightailing it back to “Tulsa,” though she makes it clear that “if you spell it back-to-front,” she’s not exactly referencing a city in Oklahoma. The “Ex’s and Oh’s” singer has also scored two Billboard Country Airplay No. 1s, with Dierks Bentley (“Different For Girls”) and Miranda Lambert (“Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)”). But as she gears up to release her first country album, Come Get Your Wife, on Jan. 27, songs like “Tulsa” telegraph her intentions to bring her rock-infused, bawdy-yet-vulnerable sound with her.
Chase Rice, “I Hate Cowboys”
Rice’s latest release finds him detailing the easygoing, nonchalant coolness of smooth-talking, two-stepping cowboys–and their relative ease at stealing hearts. But instead of piling on to country music’s longstanding adulation for guys in boots, jeans and cowboy hats, this track centers on the scarred hearts that get left in the dust when a smooth-talking cowboy comes along and entices someone’s lover away. The track is from his upcoming album, I Hate Cowboys & All Dogs Go to Hell, out Feb. 10.
Old Dominion, “Memory Lane”
The group delves into nostalgia on their new release, which finds the protagonist musing that though his romantic entanglement is officially over, he would be satisfied to stay centered on memories of the couple’s high-mark moments. The song, written by the group’s Matt Ramsey, Brad Tursi and Trevor Rosen, alongside Jessie Jo Dillon, continues the lineage of mellow, pop-inflected songs, such as “Written in the Sand” and “One Man Band,” the band has become known for.
Tyler Hubbard, “Me for Me”
Hubbard’s solo career keeps building with songs like “Dancin’ in the Country,” “5 Foot 9” and his new release, “Me For Me.” Here, he puts forth an earnest song of gratefulness that he’s found a lover who appreciates him just the way he is, accepts his shortcomings and celebrates his strengths. Hubbard penned the track with Thomas Rhett and Russell Dickerson. The same trio previously released the stunning ballad “Death Row.”
Muscadine Bloodline, “Teenage Dixie”
Blistering harmonica, driving percussion and searing guitars elevate this jam band ode to short-lived teenage romance between ambitious girls and a small-town boys. “She was on a mission on her ticket out/ And I was stuck living in the state champ days,” they sing, in this well-crafted track that vibrates with energy as they relive their glory days. The song is the title track to a new album set for Feb. 24.
Jackson Dean, “Fearless (The Echo)”
Dean is one of a handful of newcomer male country acts breaking through at country radio in a big way, with Dean reaching No. 3 on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart with his song “Don’t Come Lookin’.” His latest, “Fearless,” he makes the most of his mighty, full-bodied voice and rock-infused style, with lyrics that espouse both bravado and vulnerability, as he repeatedly notes his eagerness to “jump off the ledges, burn all the bridges, walk on the edges,” in complete control–but when it comes to the one he loves, he knows he’s not the one holding the keys. A powerful followup track that has the potential to eclipse the success of his debut release.