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First Country: New Music From Rascal Flatts, Brett Young, Gabby Barrett & More

A Father’s Day edition of First Country includes a memorable video from Brett Young, who’s celebrating his first Father’s Day as a dad, as well as a welcome return from Rascal Flatts as they prepare to say goodbye.

Rascal Flatts, “How They Remember You”

The title track from the trio’s presumptive last effort, an EP out July 31, is a great send-off. The upbeat song, written by Marc Beeson, Josh Osborne and Allen Shamblin, features strong harmonies and a catchy melody, but is really about the message on how you choose to live your life. “Did you stand or did you fall/build a bridge or build a wall?,” Gary LeVox asks. The set also includes the band’s tribute to Kenny Rogers, “Through the Years.” Is it too soon to start missing them?

Brett Young, “Lady”

The video for Young’s current single is a sweet tribute to his new daughter, Presley, and his wife, Taylor, and will serve as a beautiful keepsake of Presley’s early days. Shot from a social distance by director Seth Kupersmith using one camera and a drone, the video features Young performing the song intercut with shots of him cuddling, playing and frolicking in the pool with his baby and wife.

Gabby Barrett, Goldmine

Following her No. 1 hit, “I Hope,” Barrett releases her full length debut. She co-wrote 12 of the 13 songs on the project that shows off the American Idol alum’s powerful voice and her voluminous range on such pop-tinged tracks as the title track, the second single, uplifting “The Good Ones, “ the gospel-tinged “ Got Me” with gospel group Shane + Shane and the inspirational “Footprints on the Moon.”

Breland, Rage & Sorrow

The “My Truck” singer shows a completely different side on this 3-track suite that opens with a spoken-word intro that details America’s dismal record on civil rights including slavery and the Jim Crow era, before segueing into “The Message,” another spoken- word track that talks more about his emotions before moving into the third part, “Real Men Don’t Cry,” a gorgeous ballad about having “pain for memories” that he smiles through. “Anything to keep it all inside because real mean don’t cry,” he sings. In just a few minutes, Breland displays a depth that his previous efforts hadn’t displayed.

“Many of us have been oscillating between inspiration and desperation over the past few weeks, and I haven’t always known what to do or say about it. Inside me at any given moment lie two distinct emotions: Rage & Sorrow,” Breland said in a statement. “We focus a lot on the rage because it makes us feel powerful, but without acknowledging the sorrow, sometimes we end up only hurting ourselves. It is okay to feel both of these emotions, and to feel them deeply. The two songs I’m dropping tonight speak to my journey toward this emotional balance, and I hope everyone who listens finds similar peace. Happy Juneteenth.”

Willie Nelson, “We Are The Cowboys”

Is there anything more comforting than a song from national treasure  Nelson? Nelson revisits “We Are the Cowboys,”  which he recorded on 1999’s Honky Tonk Heroes, with Billy Joe Shaver, Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson. This tune takes on added meaning in these divisive times with the line,  “Cowboys are average American people/Texicans, Mexicans, Black men and Jews/They love this old world and they don’t want to lose it/They’re counting on me and they’re counting on you.” The track is from Nelson’s forthcoming album, First Rose of Spring.

Tyler Rich, “Feels Like Home”

Rich returns with a track that will be familiar to fans of his live show. Recorded under quarantine with all the musicians recording separately, the mid-tempo song celebrates how anywhere can feel like home if you’re surrounded by good friends and good music. “Exploring new cities, meeting strangers, and finding pubs or dive bars that make you feel like home inspired this song,” he said in a statement. “It’s crazy how you can feel an innate sense of comfort in such unfamiliar places.” Feels like a song that will inspire sing-alongs for years to come.

Shy Carter, “Good Love”

He’s the co-writer of such hits as Kane Brown’s “Heaven,” Keith Urban’s “Never Coming Down” and Charlie Puth’s “One Call Away,” now pop/country Grammy-nominated songwriter Brown is stepping in front of the microphone with his debut single for Warner Music Nashville. The mid-tempo pop-flavored track is an upbeat affirmation in the power of good love and a strong introduction to Carter for those not already aware of his behind-the-scenes work.

Danielle Bradbery, “Never Have I Ever”

The video for the sultry tune about finally feeling the true flush of love for the first time features Bradbery pulling off a socially distant video with style as she walks through various scenes, on a ranch in Texas. She sells the song better than you’d expect given the limiting circumstances, which is a testament to the strength of the song and her voice.

Also noteworthy: Ahead of the release of her July 24 album, The Balladeer, Lori McKenna shows off another winner from the set. The video for “Good Fight” features two boxers training and sparring, an amusing juxtaposition to the lyrics, which are about a couple fighting and “too angry to go to bed” before declaring a truce… A scion of country’s first family John Carter Cash gathers an astonishing array of musicians—known as the Cash Collective for rock-inspired set, Hey Crow. The set owes as much to dad Johnny Cash as well as Black Sabbath… For Father’s Day, Toby Keith delivers a video for a stripped-down, stirring version of “Don’t Let The Old Man In,” originally written for Clint Eastwood’s 2018 film, The Mule…Singer/songwriter Erin Enderlin turns in a languid cover of Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s “Fishin’ in the Dark”… In honor of Kris Kristofferson’s 84th birthday, Mandy Barnett delivers a passionate version of his classic, “Help Me Make It Through The Night.”

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