First Country is a compilation of the best new country songs, videos & albums that dropped this week.
Luke Combs, “Love You Anyway”
In this ballad from Combs’ upcoming March 24 album, Gettin’ Old, Combs maintains that even if his current love turned to heartbreak, it would all be worth it. Written by Combs with Ray Fulcher and Dan Isbell, the song features lyrics comparing a love to broken glass and ancient Rome, all melded together by Combs’ burnished vocal.
Megan Moroney, “I’m Not Pretty”
While Moroney’s breakthrough hit “Tennessee Orange” continues to climb Billboard‘s Country Airplay chart, her new release is a cheeky, defiant clapback to her ex’s new lover, who seems intent on scrolling through her Instagram and tearing her down. Here’s she continues with the conversational lyrical stylings found in “Tennessee Orange,” as she sings, “Like the Queen of the Mean Girls committee/ But hey, whatever helps/ Keep on telling yourself I’m not pretty.”
Hannah Ellis, “Someone Else’s Heartbreak”
The initial lyrics on this smooth ballad make the listener think the song’s setup is a woman comforting her close friend with all the usual platitudes after a romantic breakup. But Ellis gives the storyline a twist, as it becomes clear that the advice she would give to a friend is hard to follow when it comes to her own fallout from a fizzled relationship. A sturdy, vulnerable release from Ellis.
Ernest, “This Fire”
Ernest offers up a continuation of his previous Flower Shops project, with Flower Shops: The Album (Two Dozen Roses), out today. The whole project melds traditional country with shades of sleek pop-country. Meanwhile, the rollicking “This Fire” portrays the impact of a heartbreak and alcohol-fueled bender, most keenly on the lyrics, “I’ve done it to myself, I dug a lonely grave/ I walk amongst the ashes of the bridges that I’ve made.”
Darius Rucker, “Lift Me Up”
Rucker lends his powerful, unmistakable voice to this cover of Rihanna’s “Lift Me Up,” from the soundtrack to Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Rucker lends gospel overtones to this piano ballad, delivering an understated, yet wisened and fervent vocal rendering that elevates the song’s somewhat generic lyrics.
Reyna Roberts feat. Tayler Holder, “Another Round”
Roberts’ majestic voice is supported by Holder’s gravelly rendering, though their harmonies get slightly muddled through the chorus. Written by Roberts with Laura Veltz and Jimmy Robbins, this slow-burn track finds each vocalist concluding that — just like with booze — they know their limits and when they can’t take another round of a relationship that’s not serving their best interests.
Allie Colleen, “Honest Man”
“You say you love me, I’m calling you out/ Let’s set these plans with a stone,” Colleen sings in this lilting acoustic track, boldly willing to make an honest man of the guy she loves. Her voice is warm and a slightly rough around the edges, a perfect foil to the vulnerability and personal agency of the lyrics.
Michael Warren, What’s Country to You EP
Alabama native Warren’s new four-song EP operates along the same country-R&B lines that have made hits for artists like Thomas Rhett and Jimmie Allen. The radio-friendly title track (and Warren’s debut single), written by Dylan Schneider, Zac Kale and Jake Rose, rattles off a list of potential country bona fides and nods to the genre’s expanding boundaries. The EP follows with a trio of equally smooth tracks that showcase Warren’s agreeable, unassuming voice, including the pleasantly romantic “Another Round,” which namechecks Shenandoah, while “Chevy Shotgun” is nostalgic and bittersweet. “One Beer at a Time” blends elements of a soft R&B vibe as he declares he’s “gettin’ over you girl/ One beer at a time.”