5 Must-Hear New Country Songs: Lainey Wilson, Jelly Roll, Lori McKenna & Hillary Lindsey

This week’s column features a plethora of collaborations. Superb songwriters Lori McKenna and Hillary Lindsey team up to plumb the emotional depths of a relationship, while Jelly Roll and Lainey Wilson’s power ballad details a relationship on its ragged edge. Top-shelf singer-songwriter Rebecca Lynn Howard, newcomer Zach Top and Texas artist Jason Eady also offer new music.

Jelly Roll and Lainey Wilson, “Save Me”

Labelmates Wilson and Jelly Roll (born Jason DeFord) debuted their collaboration on last week’s Academy of Country Music Awards. This smoldering power ballad (written by DeFord and David Ray Stevens) melds and highlights country music’s breadth of current-day influences, from Jelly Roll’s gritty, rock-infused style, to Wilson’s twangy, R&B-flavored country. Lyrically, the song’s subject is mired in self-recrimination and despair, pleading with a lover to leave in order to find their own freedom, engendering a sense of angst and selflessness.

Lori McKenna and Hillary Lindsey, “Killing Me”

McKenna and Lindsey have long penned sterling hits with layered nuances, including Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush.” Their latest previews McKenna’s upcoming Dave Cobb-produced album 1988, out July 21 via CN Records/Thirty Tigers. “Would it kill you to be happy?” they ask, paring for this jangly, folk-rock track, excavating the emotional weariness wrought by carrying the weight of constant attempts to ensure a lover’s emotional equilibrium.

Rebecca Lynn Howard, “I Am My Mother”

Known for her 2002 top 20 Billboard Country Airplay hit “Forgive,” Howard possesses one of country music’s most powerful voices. Here, she pays tribute to the integral, enduring influence of the mother-daughter relationship on this sweet piano and strings-inflected ballad. Howard wrote this tender ballad with Jamie Floyd, Rachel Thibodeau and Carolyn Dawn Johnson. The song’s ability to convey teenage rebellion and a sense of empathy and understanding that comes with time and experience makes this Mother’s Day release a song that will touch hearts long after the holiday.

Zach Top, “The Kinda Woman I Like”

Top recently made his Grand Ole Opry debut and has been on tour with Dwight Yoakam. Both milestones are signifiers of the newcomer’s musical ambitions to carry the torch of beloved ’90s country music legends. His latest, the flirtatious barn-burner “The Kinda Woman I Like,” features Top’s twangy vocals, conveying the influence of artists such as Tracy Lawrence and the fiddle-soaked melodies and rhythms of Alan Jackson. Top joins a growing movement of artists inspired more by throwback country sounds than rock and pop ambitions.

Jason Eady, “Way Down in Mississippi”

Texas-by-way-of-Mississippi artist Eady retraces his musical journey and his deep Southern roots on this bluesy, gospel-infused track. Sparse rhythms, tinkling piano, energetic handclaps and soulful backing vocals that would feel right at home in a fervent church service bolster lyrics that namecheck bluegrassers Bill Monroe and Ralph Stanley. This singular melding of musical synergies, layered with Eady’s husky voice, makes his latest musical iteration feel timeless. “Way Down in Mississippi” is from his upcoming Aug. 11 release, Mississippi, produced by Band of Heathens’ Gordy Quist.

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