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First Country: Morgan Wallen, Jelly Roll, Adeem the Artist & More

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First Country is a compilation of the best new country songs, videos & albums that dropped this week.

Morgan Wallen, One Thing at a Time — Sampler

Morgan Wallen has released a three-song sampler as a teaser for the new music he’s been working on in the studio. One Thing at a Time — Sampler is made of the tracks “One Thing at a Time,” “Tennessee Fan,” and “Days That End in Why.” He’s at the top of the Billboard Country Airplay chart with “You Proof,” while another Wallen song, “I Thought You Should Know” is in the top 25 on the same chart. “One Thing at a Time” teems with shades of ’80s pop, as he declares he knows he should give up booze, pills, cigarettes and the memory of her, but he knows he’s only gonna “quit one thing at a time.” In “Tennessee Fan,” he revels in making a Tennessee fan out of an Alabama girl who was “raised Roll Tide.”

Jelly Roll, “She”

Through singles like as “Son of a Sinner” and “Dead Man Walking,” Jelly Roll has crafted a slate of songs that affirm and uplift people struggling with addiction and temptation, who are looking for forgiveness and hope. His new song, which he’s a co-writer on, traces a young woman’s descent from “the life of the party” into a journey with pill addiction. His burly, everyman vocal approach rings with authenticity.

Adeem the Artist, White Trash Revelry

On this stellar album, the Tennessee-based, non-binary and pansexual artist blends classic country instrumentation with a rough-hewn voice and plainspoken, keen observations about the insidiousness of local politics (“We’re gonna run this town straight into the godd–n ground/ But we’re gonna run it,” they sing in the honky-tonk shuffle “Run This Town”), rising rents and overworked residents (alongside pedal steel in “Books & Records”), and the experience of shifting liberal perspectives in the South (the bluesy “Redneck, Unread Hicks,” with piercing lyrics about “Singing ‘Black Lives Matter’ to a Jimmie Rodgers melody,” and a backyard celebration with two wedding gowns). On “Middle of a Heart,” they sing about learning to “put a bullet through the middle of a heart,” first while learning to hunt, then sharing the passion of a first kiss, and later while in service to the military. The closer, “My America,” wrestles with the kind of country they will leave behind when they are gone.

Jenny Tolman, “It’s a Boy”

Tolman, known for plucky, quirky songs including “High Class White Trash” and the concept project There Goes the Neighborhood, wrote this track with co-writer Corey Wagar after finding out she and husband Dave Brainard were expecting a son. This sweet ode to motherhood takes familiar phrases that pepper songs about pining over a romantic crush and reinterprets them, in light of the joy of soon welcoming her son.

Parker McCollum, “Stoned”

In this moody track, Parker McCollum’s feeling misunderstood, alone and missing the one he used to hold — all reasons to find a way to numb the emotional pain. “Well, I know it’s not the answer but it’s all I know to do,” McCollum declares, his flawlessly rendered vocal capturing both urgency and resignation.

Lainey Wilson, “New Friends”

Wilson recently made her acting debut on season 5 of the hit TV series Yellowstone and performed this new song as part of the show. Her warm, intimate voice purrs on the soft acoustic track, which finds her longing for both a lost love and something to provide a distraction from the heartbreak. “New Friends” has been newly added to her excellent October album, Bell Bottom Country.

Shane Profitt, “Country Boys”

A rapid-fire beat under shimmering guitars sets the tone for Profitt’s listing of all the ways country boys will continue to be country boys — and the requisites to do so, including tins of Skoal, beer cans, Texaco, Walmart, Dollar General, hunting dogs, Zebcos, and deer in the woods. The song’s premise is nothing new, but Profitt sings it with gusto and exudes personality.

Muscadine Bloodline, “Made Her That Way”

Duo Charlie Muncaster and Gary Stanton earned a breakthrough with their raging “Dispatch to 16th Avenue” and hard-charging “Me on You.” They shift toward self-recriminating regret in their latest release, acknowledging the stubbornness that led to a fizzled relationship. This stripped-down song, written by Muncaster and Jordan Fletcher, proves to be another ace outing from this duo.

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