Brandi Carlile, Sturgill Simpson, Black Pumas Win At 2021 Americana Honors & Awards

Pictured (L-R): Amanda Shires and Maren Morris of The Highwomen, Yola, Brandi Carlile of The Highwomen, Jason Isbell and Natalie Hemby of The Highwomen perform onstage at the 20th Annual Americana Honors & Awards. Photo: Getty Images for the Americana Music Association

The Americana Music Association heralded its best and brightest at the 20th Annual Americana Honors & Awards at the Ryman Auditorium last night (Sept. 22), with Brandi Carlile taking home her second Americana trophy for Artist of the Year.

Other big winners of the night include Sturgill Simpson who won Album of the Year for his first bluegrass project, Cuttin’ Grass Vol. 1 – The Butcher Shoppe Sessions; the Black Pumas, who were named Duo/Group of the Year; and the late John Prine, whose song “I Remember Everything,” written by Pat McLaughlin and Prine, received Song Of The Year honors.

Charley Crockett received the award for Emerging Act of the Year while Kristin Weber, a 14-year veteran of worldwide touring and recording as a fiddler, was named Americana Instrumentalist of the Year.

“Given today’s uncertain times, there is no greater assurance that the power of music brings people together to uplift their spirits when they need it the most,” said Jed Hilly, Executive Director of the Americana Music Association. “I’m beyond proud of our artists and community for reminding me again why this is my favorite night of the year, every year.”

Keb Mo’ performs at the 20th Annual Americana Honors & Awards. Photo: Getty Images for the Americana Music Association

Highlights from the evening included a rendition of “I Believe” by the Fisk Jubilee Singers, as well as Carla Thomas offering a performance of her Stax Records staple, “B-A-B-Y.” The Mavericks delivered a sweeping Spanish performance of “La Sitiera,” and Carlile, Margo Price and Amanda Shires paid tribute to the great John Prine with a heartfelt take on “I Remember Everything.”

Throughout the night, attendees were treated to additional performances by Crockett, Steve Earle, Henry with O’Donovan, The Highwomen (Carlile, Natalie Hemby, Maren Morris, Shires) with Yola, Jason Isbell with Shires, Sarah Jarosz, Valerie June with Thomas, Amythyst Kiah, Buddy Miller, Keb’ Mo’, Price, Allison Russell and Aaron Lee Tasjan.

2021 Americana Honors & Awards Winners and Honorees:
Album of the Year: Cuttin’ Grass – Vol. 1 (The Butcher Shoppe Sessions), Sturgill Simpson
Artist of the Year: Brandi Carlile
Song of the Year: “I Remember Everything” John Prine, written by Pat McLaughlin and John Prine
Duo/Group of the Year: Black Pumas
Emerging Act of the Year: Charley Crockett
Instrumentalist of the Year: Kristin Weber
Legacy of Americana Award, presented in partnership with the National Museum of African American Music: Fisk Jubilee Singers
Trailblazer Award: The Mavericks
Lifetime Achievement Award for Performance: Keb’ Mo’
Lifetime Achievement Award for Producer/Engineer: Trina Shoemaker
Inspiration Award: Carla Thomas

Lauren Daigle Continues Her Record-Setting Streak [Interview]

Pictured (L-R): Grand Hubbard, Kris Love, Chris Hauser, Greg Chimento, Lauren Daigle, Caren Seidle, John Stokes, Andrew Lambeth, Steve Ford

Christian singer-songwriter Lauren Daigle is continuing to break records with her music.

Since the release of her Grammy-winning, Platinum certified album Look Up Child in 2018, Daigle has remained in the upper echelons of the Billboard charts. The album debuted at No. 3 on the Top 200 Albums chart, making Daigle the first female artist to simultaneously hit the Top 10 on both Billboard’s Pop and Christian Billboard Album Charts. After spending 100 weeks at No. 1, Look Up Child also holds the record for the greatest number of weeks atop the the Billboard Top Christian Albums chart in its history.

Additionally, the Centricity Music artist’s Grammy-winning crossover hit, “You Say,” became the longest-running No. 1 song of any genre on the weekly Billboard “Hot”-named song charts (which blend streaming, airplay and sales data, as tabulated by Nielsen Music/MRC Data.) “You Say” remained at No. 1 for an incredible 132 weeks and was recently certified 4x Platinum by the RIAA.

“I feel kind of awestruck [by Look Up Child‘s achievements] to be honest,” Daigle tells MusicRow. “I really feel like there’s something about people’s stories and people’s connection to this record that really keeps me in a space of being in awe. I’m super grateful for the connection that people have had to it. I don’t take it for granted and I’m honored to have had something like this that I get to be a part of in life.”

Daigle most recently extended her record of most No. 1 hits among women on the Hot Christian Songs chart with her sixth No. 1 single, “Hold On To Me.”

“‘Hold On To Me’ is a song about having people around you that see the best in you and remind you of those things when you might only see the worst of who you are,” Daigle says. “It’s a song about someone who doubts themselves or questions their worth or whether they’re able to make it through a difficult time and realizes what it means to have people around them that can see beyond the current circumstance and remind them, ‘Hey, there’s more beyond this. Keep your head up, stay focused.’ I really believe there’s power when people are unified. Life is a journey and anytime that you’re doing it alone, it only feels half full. I think there’s something beautiful about people holding onto each other in the worst of times, it allows us to get through difficult things together rather than alone.”

“I hope that aspiring female CCM artists can see that the sky is the limit,” she continues. “There’s so much potential, and if you bring artistry, if you bring your craft, if you bring diligence, and if you find a team around you that can support all your efforts, the sky is truly the limit. I hope that people, especially aspiring females, can look at this and say, ‘OK, she did it, I’m gonna work hard to do it too.’ I hope that it allows more female vocalist to be on the radio and on these charts.”

Daigle has earned seven Billboard Music Awards, four American Music Awards, ten GMA Dove Music Awards and sold-out concert venues all over the world. She will head back out on the road again with her arena tour kicking off Friday (Sept. 24) in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The “Lauren Daigle World Tour” will make stops throughout the U.S. including Kansas City, Atlanta, Lafayette, Houston, and New Orleans before wrapping in Nashville on Nov. 19.

“I cannot wait to be in front of a crowd, to hear applause and hear people screaming at the top of their lungs,” Daigle says. “It is a feeling of joy that doesn’t just stop at me. It circulates around the room, and I think that is something I will never take for granted again especially after this time. I’m also looking forward to the beauty of playing music with people that I love so dear. I feel like I’m back with a family that I’ve missed for so long.”

ASCAP Announces Winners For 2021 Christian Music Awards

ASCAP has announced the winners of its annual ASCAP Christian Music Awards today (Sept. 22).

Honoring the most performed Christian music of the past year, the social media event will feature exclusive photos, videos, performances, acceptance speeches and more from some of the winning songwriters and publishers posted with the hashtags #ASCAPAwards to @ASCAP on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

For the fourth time, Matthew West has been named ASCAP Christian Songwriter of the Year, honoring his hit songs like Jeremy Camp’s “Keep Me in the Moment,” and Casting Crowns’ “Love Moved First” and “Start Right Here.” With over 130 songwriting credits for artists including Rascal Flatts, Scotty McCreery and Amy Grant, as well as his own hits as an artist, West has also been recognized as ASCAP’s Christian Songwriter-Artist of the Year in 2013, 2015 and 2016.

Grammy-nominated songwriter, artist and worship leader Cory Asbury took home ASCAP Christian Songwriter-Artist of the Year for the first time. After winning ASCAP Song of the Year in 2019 for his chart-topping hit “Reckless Love,” he adds two ASCAP most-performed song awards for “The Father’s House” and “Sparrows.”

The Grammy and Dove Award-nominated song, “Famous For (I Believe),” earned ASCAP’s Christian Song of the Year. Co-written by ASCAP member Alexis Slifer and published by All Essential Music and Buddybabe Music, the Tauren Wells and Jenn Johnson track spent 54 weeks on the charts.

Capitol CMG Publishing receives ASCAP Christian Music Publisher of the Year for the 19th consecutive year for songs including “Good God Almighty,” “Out Of My Hands” and “Peace Be Still.” To celebrate the honor, the Capitol CMG publishing team gathered virtually to accept the award.

ASCAP Chairman of the Board and President Paul Williams says: “My heart is full of gratitude for you, ASCAP’s family of songwriters, composers and music publishers. Your beautiful music shines a light in both hard and joyful times, guiding us forward with messages of love, hope, faith and mercy… Congratulations to all of this year’s winners for your achievements.”

The two-day social media celebration running through tomorrow (Sept. 23) will feature exclusive photos, videos, performances, acceptance speeches and more from some of the winning songwriters and publishers, including a performance of “Rise Up (Lazarus)” from chart-topping newcomers CAIN and an acceptance speech from Dave Haywood of Lady A for their winning song “Who You Are to Me.”

Other songs honored as the most performed from the last year include “Battle Belongs” (Phil Wickham), “Graves Into Gardens” (Elevation Worship), “Still Rolling Stones” (Lauren Daigle), and “Together” (For King & Country), among others. Click here to view full list of ASCAP’s most performed Christian songs of 2020. 

NMPA & Twitch Reach Agreement

The National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) and Twitch announced today (Sept. 21) that the organizations have reached an agreement that aims “to work together to build productive partnerships between the service and music publishers,” according to the release.

The purpose of the deal is to change the way the economics of new gaming models work to increase visibility and revenue for songwriters. This agreement comes after months of conflict between the organizations regarding the payment of songwriters.

Twitch will provide new opportunities to music publishers who will be offered an opt-in deal allowing for future collaborations to bring new facets to both the gaming experience and songwriter exposure. Additionally, Twitch has created a new process that participating music rights holders can opt into to report certain uses of their music, to address when creators inadvertently or incidentally use music in their streams.

NMPA President & CEO David Israelite says, “Both NMPA and Twitch are creator-focused and our respective communities will greatly benefit from this agreement, which respects the rights of songwriters and paves the way for future relationships between our publisher members, songwriters and the service. Through our discussions, Twitch has shown a commitment to valuing musicians and to creating new ways to connect them with fans in this burgeoning and exciting space.”

Twitch Head of Music Tracy Chan adds, “We are pleased to reach this agreement with the NMPA and excited about our shared commitment to empowering songwriters and other creators to share their work and passions while connecting with audiences. That’s what Twitch is all about, and we know that great music starts with a great song. We look forward to innovative collaborations that further unlock the incredible potential of our service and our community for music publishers and their songwriter partners.”

Spotify Celebrates ’90s Country’s Resurgence Of Popularity With Gen Z

Spotify has launched a campaign to celebrate one of the most iconic decades in country music: the 1990s.

According to unique user data from Spotify, U.S. streams of their ’90s Country playlist have grown 150% since 2018, and 70% among Gen Z users in that time. There are also currently 89 million playlists from Gen Z users containing ’90s country tracks. As many fans between 19-24 listen to Spotify’s ’90s Country playlist as fans over 45.

According to Spotify, albums from The Chicks (Wide Open Spaces and Fly); Shania Twain (Come On Over and The Woman In Me); Alan Jackson (Who I Am and A Lot About Livin’ (And A Little ‘Bout Love)); Tim McGraw (Everywhere); and George Strait (Strait Out Of The Box, Pure Country and Blue Clear Sky) are among the top 10 most popular ’90s country albums for Gen Z listeners. See more of Spotify’s ’90s country catalog data below.

To celebrate the renewed popularity of ’90s country, Spotify launched a creative campaign highlighting the staying power of the platform’s ’90s country catalog. The campaign includes three Spotify Singles from three ’90s babies: with Parker McCollum covering Strait’s “Carrying Your Love With Me,” Tenille Arts doing The Chicks’ “Wide Open Spaces,” and Breland covering Deana Carter’s “Strawberry Wine.”

The campaign includes a ’90s Country Digital Experience that allows users take a short quiz to generate their top ’90s country albums as well as a personalized playlist.

Below is more ’90s country catalog data from Spotify:

Top 10 ’90s Country Albums With Listeners In The U.S. Overall:
1. Come On Over – Shania Twain
2. Down The Road I Go – Travis Tritt
3. Everywhere – Tim McGraw
4. The Woman In Me – Shania Twain
5. Fly – The Chicks
6. Out With A Bang – David Lee Murphy
7. Strait Out Of The Box – George Strait
8. A Lot About Livin’ (And A Little ‘Bout Love) – Alan Jackson
9. Wide Open Spaces – The Chicks
10. A Place In The Sun – Tim McGraw

Top 10 ’90s Country Albums With Gen Z Listeners In The U.S.:
1. Wide Open Spaces – The Chicks
2. Strait Out Of The Box – George Strait
3. Fly – The Chicks
4. Come On Over – Shania Twain
5. Pure Country – George Strait
6. A Lot About Livin’ (And A Little ‘Bout Love) – Alan Jackson
7. Everywhere – Tim McGraw
8. The Woman In Me – Shania Twain
9. Who I Am – Alan Jackson
10. Blue Clear Sky – George Strait

Top 5 Most-Shared ’90s Country Songs By Gen Z listeners:
1. “You’re Still The One” – Shania Twain
2. “Man! I Feel Like A Woman!” – Shania Twain
3. “Amazed” – Lonestar
4. “Chattahoochee” – Alan Jackson
5. “Cowboy Take Me Away” – The Chicks

Most-Discovered (First-Time Listened To) 90s Country Songs In The US In The Past 3 Months:
1. “Something Like That” – Tim McGraw
2. “Man! I Feel Like A Woman!” – Shania Twain
3. “Chattahoochee” – Alan Jackson
4. “Any Man Of Mine” – Shania Twain
5. “Amazed” – Lonestar
6. “Dust On The Bottle” – David Lee Murphy
7. “Strawberry Wine” – Deana Carter
8. “She’s In Love With The Boy” – Trisha Yearwood
9. “Independence Day” – Martina McBride
10. “Check Yes Or No” – George Strait

Most Discovered Artists in 2021 From The 90s Country Playlist:
1. Billy Dean
2. Alison Krauss & Union Station
3. Ricochet
4. John Anderson
5. Tracy Byrd

Lainey Wilson’s “Things A Man Oughta Know” Tops The Charts

Lainey Wilson. Photo: Alex Berger

MusicRow’s 2021 Discovery Artist of the Year Lainey Wilson has topped the Mediabase and Billboard country chart with her breakout hit “Things A Man Oughta Know.”

Wilson is the first new solo female artist to accomplish this feat since Gabby Barrett went to the top with “I Hope” in April 2020. Written by Wilson, Jason Nix and Jonathan Singleton, “Things A Man Oughta Know” went No. 1 on the MusicRow CountryBreakout Radio Chart on Aug. 13.

“It has been an incredible privilege to see firsthand how this song has impacted people. Thank you, country radio for believing in it, sharing it with the world and taking this thing to No. 1—this is a moment I’ve dreamed of my entire life—and to do it with a song that is all about good character is icing on the cake,” shares Wilson. “To my incredibly supportive team—thank you for always being by my side. I can’t wait to cry, celebrate and climb more mountains with you.”

The track has garnered more than 146 million on-demand streams and has spent several weeks in the Top 10 in country single sales. The single is also having international success, being certified Gold in Canada and reaching the Top 5 on Canadian country radio.

Wilson was also selected as an iHeartCountry On the Verge artist and was nominated for CMT Music Award’s Breakthrough Video of the Year in addition to being named the Opry NextStage artist for August. She is currently on the road on Jason Aldean’s “Back In The Saddle Tour” and working on new music.

Kelsea Ballerini Sets The Stage In Nashville On Jonas Brothers’ “Remember This” Tour

Kelsea Ballerini. Photo: Catherine Powell

Last week, multi-Platinum songwriter and entertainer Kelsea Ballerini took the stage at the recently opened First Bank Amphitheater on the outskirts of Franklin, Tennessee as support on the Jonas Brothers‘ “Remember This” Tour.

The new boutique venue located at the Graystone Quarry in Thompson’s Station hosted its first event on Aug. 5 with Together: Feeding Nashville where a big topic of discussion was the issues related to traffic. After a handful of shows, the venue still has some of those issues with many concert-goers rolling in late to the first of the Jonas Brothers’ two-night stay.

Kelsea Ballerini. Photo: Catherine Powell

However, once on stage, Ballerini wowed the crowd with many of her No. 1s and fan-favorites, including her 2015 Platinum-certified single “Peter Pan” and her designated drinking song, “Hole In The Bottle.” She also performed her newest single “I Quit Drinking,” which features LANY frontman Paul Klein.

Dipping into the feelings of nostalgia that many of the attendees were experiencing from seeing one of the world’s favorite childhood boy bands, Ballerini shared part of a video she recorded in 2008 that explained her long-time admiration for the trio.

“[In this video] I’m gonna talk about five reasons why I love the Jonas Brothers,” the then pre-teen singer says, earning quite the reaction from the audience. “The first one is their passion for music. I made another video that talked about how we share that because I love to sing and I love to write songs, and they do too. I think it would be really awesome to meet someone who has that same passion that is living their dream out, and I think it would be really cool to talk to them about.”

Kelsea Ballerini. Photo: Catherine Powell

The now 28 year-old followed it up, saying: “So that’s me… If I could go back and tell 12 year-old Kelsea that on a Thursday night at this new, beautiful venue in Nashville freaking Tennessee that I would be able to stand on this stage and not only sing some songs of my own that people might know, but open up for the Jonas Brothers… I wouldn’t have believed it, y’all.”

She continued, “Judging by the fact that you’re here early and you’re standing up with t-shirts, signs, hoodies, and all kinds of things, I’m assuming you feel the same way about the Jonas Brothers as I do. That also means that a lot of us probably grew up on a lot of the same music, and we’re lucky because we got the good stuff.”

The 6x No. 1 singer then broke out into a string of early 2000s covers, including Taylor Swift’s “Teardrops On My Guitar,” Kelly Clarkson’s “Breakaway,” and “Lucky” by Britney Spears, before transitioning into her vulnerable, emotion-evoking “Homecoming Queen” which featured a booming chorus choir from the audience.

Ballerini also offered her powerful post-breakup track, “The Way I Used To,” before wrapping with “This Feeling,” her 2018 duet with EDM supergroup The Chainsmokers to which she offered a “secret” third verse for the special Nashville show.

Ballerini and the brothers will continue on to stops in Atlanta, Cincinnati, New York, Boston, Tampa, Dallas, and more before wrapping at Los Angeles’ Hollywood Bowl on Oct. 27.

Kelsea Ballerini. Photo: Catherine Powell

Rhett Akins Leaps Into Top Five On MusicRow Top Songwriter Chart

Rhett Akins

Rhett Akins makes a big leap from No. 12 to No. 5 on the MusicRow Top Songwriter Chart this week. The soon-to-be-inducted Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame honoree is a co-writer on the currently charting songs “Tequila Little Time” (Jon Pardi) and “To Be Loved By You” (Parker McCollum).

Ashley Gorley maintains his position at No. 1 on the MusicRow Top Songwriter Chart for the tenth consecutive week. He is a co-writer on “Beers On Me” (Dierks Bentley, Hardy & Breland), “Country Again” (Thomas Rhett), “Give Heaven Some Hell” (Hardy), “Sand In My Boots” (Morgan Wallen), “Steal My Love” (Dan + Shay) and “You Should Probably Leave” (Chris Stapleton).

The weekly MusicRow Top Songwriter Chart uses algorithms based upon song activity according to airplay, digital download track sales and streams. This unique and exclusive addition to the MusicRow portfolio is the only songwriter chart of its kind.

Click here to view the full MusicRow Top Songwriter Chart.

Chris Stapleton Earns MusicRow CountryBreakout Radio Chart No. 1

Chris Stapleton. Photo: Becky Fluke

Chris Stapleton paves his way to No. 1 this week on the MusicRow CountryBreakout Radio Chart with “You Should Probably Leave.” This single follows his two week No. 1. “Starting Over.”

“You Should Probably Leave” was written by Stapleton, Ashley Gorley, and Chris DuBois. It appears on his album Starting Over which was completed in February of 2020 just days before the shutdown.

Stapleton is currently touring the country with his All-American Road Show. The tour began in July and has dates lined up through June of 2022.

Click here to view the latest edition of The MusicRow Weekly containing the MusicRow CountryBreakout Radio Chart.

DISClaimer Single Reviews: Cody Johnson, Carly Pearce & Ashley McBryde, Tylar Bryant

Pictured (top row): Tylar Bryant, Cody Johnson; (bottom row): Carly Pearce, Ashley McBryde

Summer may be winding down, but the country stars are still cranking out plenty of sunshine.

In this week’s edition of DisClaimer, we have terrific tunes by Old Dominion, Sam Hunt, Mitchell Tenpenny & Chris Young, Walker Hayes, Kacey Musgraves and more. We have a tie in the race for the Disc of the Day award. I can’t decide between the sizzling Cody Johnson single and the scintillating duet by Carly Pearce & Ashley McBryde. Honor them both with your spins.

One of the most noteworthy trends in country music during the past three years is the unprecedented explosion of Black artists in the genre. Country hopefuls Willie Jones, Chapel Hart, Breland, Karen McCormick, Ashlie Amber, Blanco Brown, Brittney Spencer, Tony Evans Jr., Camo Brian, Priscilla Renae, Shy Carter, Tiera, Kyshona, Charlie Crockett, Norman North, Wendy Moten, Reyna Roberts and Charles Gallaspy have joined an influx from the previous decade—Mickey Guyton, Jimmie Allen, Miko Marks, Simba Jordan, Vickie Vann, Kane Brown, Rissi Palmer, Kamara Thomas, Joy Styles, Tony Jackson, Rhonda Townes, Darius Rucker, Kaia Kater, Aaron Vance, Daniel Houze, Amber Gerard, John Amos and Erika Dunlap.

In this column, we add three more names to the list, Brei Carter, Danielia Cotton and our DISCovery Award winner, Tylar Bryant.

SAM HUNT / “23”
Writers: Sam Hunt/Shane McAnally/Josh Osborne/Chris LaCorte; Producer: Chris LaCorte; Label: MCA Nashville
— Wistful nostalgia for a youthful love. His warm, burnished delivery is enthralling, and the well-crafted lyric is a gem. Check out the acoustic version, too.

DANIELIA COTTON / “(I’m So) Afraid of Losing You Again”
Writers: Dallas Frazier/Doodle Owens; Producer: none listed; Label: DC
— This New Jersey native has dabbled in r&b and rock during the past 15 years. This country-soul tribute to Charley Pride finds her in excellent voice. She could use better production support on her revival of his 1969 classic.

WALKER HAYES & KESHA / “Fancy Like”
Writers: Walker Hayes/Cameron Bartolini/Shane Stevens/Josh Jenkins/Kesha; Producer: Walker Hayes, Shane McAnally & Joe Thibodeau; Label: Monument/RCA
— Nashville native popster Kesha adds her saucy verve to this Platinum-selling song of the summer. Melodically, it has nothing to do with country music. Lyrically, however, it’s a hillbilly delight. And the whole thing is still one nutty ear worm. If Ruby Tuesday, Ocharley’s, T.G.I. Friday, Chili’s, Logan’s or Zaxby’s pay to advertise on the radio station, don’t they object to giving free airtime to an Applebees commercial?

ADAM DOLEAC / “Somewhere Cool With You”
Writers: Adam Doleac/Josh Jenkins/Matt Jenkins/Jared Keim; Producer: Jared Keim; Label: Arista Nashville
— Adam was in the news this week when his sound-equipment trailer was stolen, then recovered. His new track yearns for a romantic getaway. Lulling and gentle, if not exactly memorable.

KACEY MUSGRAVES / “Justified”
Writers: Kacey Musgraves/Ian Fitchuk/Ilsey Juber/Brandon Joyner Burton; Producer: Ian Fitchuk, Kacey Musgraves & Daniel Tashian; Label: MCA Nashville/Interscope
— This sweet/sad heartbreak ballad has a spare, echoey production swirling around her tender soprano. Listenable, meandering and atmospheric. As light and lovey-dovey as Golden Hour was, the new LP Star-Crossed represents the darker side of love.

SAM WILLIAMS & DOLLY PARTON / “Happy All the Time”
Writers: Mary Gauthier/Sam Williams; Producer: Bobby Holland/Sean McConnell; Label: Mercury Nashville
— “Glasshouse Children,” the title tune of this guy’s debut album is a very slow dreamy ballad with strings. He picks up the pace a little on the collection’s collaborations with Keith Urban (”Kids”) or, in this case, Dolly. It’s still a ballad, but their voices brush against each other in a way that creates emotional intimacy and intensity. Sam is Hank Jr.’s boy—and the half brother of music makers Hank III, Hillary and Holly—but he is definitely his own man. Highly recommended.

BREI CARTER / “Gave Him a Girl”
Writers: Brei Carter/Mason Douglas/Jason Wyatt; Producer: none listed; Label: BC
— This Louisiana native is a PhD, the author of three books and a veteran Army officer. She’s also a feisty, sprightly country singer-songwriter. In this ditty, she flattens a bully with a right hook and announces that she can catch a bass, change a tire, skin a coon, drink, handle a gun and drive a tractor. Cute and catchy.

MITCHELL TENPENNY & CHRIS YOUNG / “At the End of a Bar”
Writers: Chris DeStefano/Chris Young/Mitchell Tenpenny; Producer: Chris Young/Chris DeStefano; Label: RCA Nashville
— Nobody sings a country song with as much power as Mr. Young, but Tenpenny gives it his all on this chesty, passionate, anthemic collaboration. These are two mighty worthy men.

CARLY PEARCE & ASHLEY McBRYDE / “Never Wanted to Be That Girl”
Writers: Carly Pearce/Ashley McBryde/Shane McAnally; Producer: Shane McAnally/Josh Osborne; Label: Big Machine/Warner
— In a word, sensational. The dobro-laced production, both women’s harmony voices, the story song, the swapped verses, the interwoven solo vocals …. everything works here. Ashley starts off, portraying the mistress. Carly picks up the tale, enacting the betrayed wife. They soar on the choruses together in dual heartache. For the love of country music, play this.

CODY JOHNSON / “Til You Can’t”
Writers: Ben Stennis/Matt Rogers; Producer: Trent Willmon; Label: Warner/COJO
— Cody has been delighting our ears by releasing track after track from his upcoming double album, Human (”Sad Songs and Waltzes,” “God Bless the Boy,” “Let’s Build a Fire,” etc). Now at last that collection has a single, and it is a dandy. It begins as a contemplative look at life and love, then evolves into a roaring barn burner about seizing today, living with gusto and chasing your dreams no matter how big. This is the sound of a superstar.

OLD DOMINION / “All I Know About Girls”
Writers: Shane McAnally/Josh Osborne/Trevor Joseph Rosen/Matthew Thomas Ramsey/Brad Francis Tursi/Whit Sellers/Geoffrey Sprung; Producer: Old Dominion/Shane McAnally; Label: Arista Nashville
— Softly jaunty and airy. The simplicity and open production of this are pleasantly ear-cleansing. As you might expect, the punch line is “I don’t know nothin’ at all.”

TYLAR BRYANT / “Stay Wild”
Writers: Bobby McLamb/Blaine Younger; Producer: Bryan Cole; Label: Riser
— No matter how work and life wear you down, remember to stay free and full of fire. Hang on for the processed-vocal chorus toward the finale. Engaging, energetic and promising.