Margo Price, “Lydia”
Price’s latest song champions a woman’s right to choose what’s right for her own body, unfolding over the course of seven verses the story, history, concerns and choices of a woman who becomes pregnant and is unable to raise the child, while facing a lack of health insurance and living in a run-down part of town. She abandons the traditional chorus-verse-bridge-chorus song structure in favor of a freewheeling melody that focuses exclusively on the story. Price wrote the song years before the overturning of Roe v. Wade and recorded it in 2021. The song will be included on her album Wandering, out Jan. 13. This creepy, magnetic story makes for a must-listen.
Zach Bryan, “Biggest Day of My Life”
“Years are just moments in a big pile,” sings Bryan on this new release of a fan favorite. Continuing with his Red Dirt acoustic compositions, Bryan encapsulates with heartfelt gratitude the highs of life on and off the road, from having a robust band playing behind him, being a Country boy who makes a song in a high-rise in New York and has his faithful dog to always come home to. This prolific troubadour, who saw his American Heartbreak album debut at No. 1 on Billboard‘s Top country albums chart earlier this year, continues his hot streak with another sharp-eyed chronicle of the world around him.
Brantley Gilbert feat. Blake Shelton and Vince Gill, “Heaven by Then”
Gilbert takes a break from testosterone-fueled uptempo tracks to imagine a life without small-town values and ways on this acoustic-driven track. He is accompanied by Shelton and Gill on vocals.
Written by Gilbert, Brock Berryhill, Michael Hardy, Jake Mitchell, Randy Montana, Hunter Phelps and Taylor Phillips, the somber song laments the ebb of a country lifestyle and envisions a place where “the number three is just a number, and Hank’s just a name/ When trucks don’t sound like thunder and nobody asks for rain.” A joy of a track for those who feel a certain way of life is being overlooked.
Jordan Davis, “Part of It”
Davis just picked up Song of the Year at the 56th Annual CMA Awards this week, as writer and artist on “Buy Dirt.” He follows with another song that also takes its lyrics from the concept of learning lessons in life and love from an older generation – whether it’s a father showing him the way through a painful breakup or instilling a work ethic and love of country . The production is smooth, again highlighting Davis’ relatable vocals, while the song’s vibe has moments reminiscent of Eric Church’s 2018 hit, “Some of It.” Davis’ talent as both a vocalist and writer has steadily deepened since his 2017 breakthrough “Singles You Up,” with this track as yet another testament.
Randy Houser, “Out and Down”
Houser knows he should be down and depressed after a romantic breakup, but instead he sings, “I took it like a man and took it right down to the bar.” Written by Houser with Matt Rogers and Chris DeStefano, this record of a Friday night uptempo rocker is a perfect vessel for Houser’s soaring country vocals.
Emily Nenni, “Can Chaser”
Longtime Nashville resident Nenni, who has spent years performing at Music City venues including Santa’s Pub and Robert’s Western World, has just released her first album with Normaltown/New West Records, At the Ranch. She has vocal charm to spare on songs like “Can Chaser,” a nod to female barrel racers, and the ’70s-twitch title track, a tribute to her time working on a ranch in Colorado. Her alliance with traditional country sounds permeates every track on this album.
Six One Five Collective, “Kindness”
A team of artist-writers including Sarah Darling, Michael Logen and Nicole Witt join forces with Jamie Floyd for this encouraging issue. Led by Logen’s warm vocals, the song makes listeners think about the role they play in the world.
“We all slay dragons, we think we’re on our own/ But everyone has a battle that no one knows,” they sing, using their luminous harmonies to encourage kindness and acceptance. An uplifting pitch needed during this day and time. The group’s upcoming EP, Coast‘, arrives Nov. 18.
Nathaniel Rateliff, “You Asked Me To”
From Live Forever: A Tribute to Billy Joe Shaverthe ever-soulful Rateliff offers a stunning job on this classic written by Shaver and Waylon Jennings, which originally appeared on Jennings’ 1973 album Honky Tonk Heroes and on Shaver’s 1977 album gypsy boy with Willie Nelson (the Shaver rendition is in the past tense, which Rateliff also does here). The robust torque of Rateliff’s vocals centers the lyrics’ defiance and endless devotion, while the rolling instrumentation preserves the freewheeling heart of the original.