This week’s collection of new country music releases includes songs from Travis Denning, Kameron Marlowe and Margo Cilker. Meanwhile, Billy Currington and Maddie & Tae each offer a return to form with their new releases.
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Maddie & Tae, “Heart They Didn’t Break”
In 2020, Maddie & Tae earned a No. 1 hit with “Die From a Broken Heart,” a languid ballad that finds a girl seeking her mother’s advice in the wake of heartbreak. With their latest, the duo revisits a similar sentiment, this time celebrating the steadfast support of good friends, instead of mama, to help navigate the aftermath of a romantic breakup.
The duo’s latest release is written by Anna Vaus, Benjy Davis and Ryan Beaver. Though the melody of “Heart They Didn’t Break” isn’t quite as hooky and memorable as its predecessor, the song’s tastefully restrained, acoustic-based production puts emphasis on the duo’s warm, inviting vocals, which further elevate beautifully detailed lyrics depicting a best friend who would drop other commitments to drive 200 miles away to be there for a heartbroken friend.
Billy Currington, “City Don’t”
Nearly two years after surprise-releasing his synth pop-shifted album Intuition, Currington returns with this affable ode to pastoral living, written by Scooter Carusoe, Joshua Miller and Chris LaCorte, with production from Carson Chamberlain.
“They got five stars/ We’ve got millions,” Currington’s easygoing baritone offers, while the song’s leisurely melody and city vs. rural sentiments evoke some of Currington’s earlier hits, such as “Good Directions.” Over his career, Currington has dabbled in sounds like country-soul (“Must Be Doin’ Something Right”) and stadium-sized rock (“We Are Tonight”), but his latest is a welcome return to a more traditional-leaning country sound.
Kameron Marlowe feat. Erin Kirby, “I Can Lie (The Truth Is)”
In this TikTok moment-turned-official duet (Marlowe found a TikTok video of former American Idol contestant Kirby singing a duet version of the song, and surprised Kirby in the studio to officially re-record the track as a duet), these two passionate, soulful country vocalists pair wondrously, backed by a stone cold country instrumentation, accented by harmonica. Marlowe’s gravelly vocal embodies shades of early Travis Tritt as he deadpans about a hot-and-cold relationship, “So, when I promised you forever/ The truth is, I can lie.”
Fans of classic ’90s country will love this track, which Marlowe wrote with Shane Minor and Jordan Fletcher, with production from Dann Huff.
Ray Scott, “Hey Fool”
Ray Scott made headway on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart in the mid-2000s with songs including “My Kind of Music.” He still possesses one of country music’s most sterling voices. On his latest, Scott’s signature gravelly voice gets tossed up with guitar, fiddle and mandolin as he takes on the role of a wisened onlooker at a bar. “You’re gonna have to lie down in that bed you’re making/ Hey fool, It’s gonna haunt you night and day,” he sings, attempting to distill hard-earned wisdom to a man at a bar who is attempting to lure a new lover, when he’s already in a relationship.
Margo Cilker, “Keep It on a Burner”
Singer-songwriter Cilker has spent most of her time in the rural Northwest, ranging from California to Oregon, and brings a small-town sensibility, as well as a keen poet’s observations, to her latest batch of songs, having released her first full-length album, Pohorylle, in 2021. On this doo wop-tinged latest release — from the upcoming Valley of Heart’s Delight, due in September — Cilker employs horns aplenty for a stream-of consciousness cataloguing of her life at the moment, from mundane to the profound, with lyrics such as “I got sidewalks, I got sunburned, I got books I haven’t read/ I got neighbors telling neighbors they’ll bе burning up when they’re dеad… I got wasted, I got waylaid, I got stuck in Lodi again,” a nod to Creedence Clearwater Revival’s 1969 hit “Lodi.” Tying it all together is the relaxed sureness in Cilker’s honeyed vocal.
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