This week, we highlight a batch of country new tunes that range from poppy and sleek to bluegrass and Western-inflected. “Tennessee Orange” hitmaker Megan Moroney is surging on the streaming charts with her new release “No Caller ID,” while Kelsey Hart has earned a viral hit with his tender love song “Life With You.”
Meanwhile, Madeline Merlo gets confessional on her new single, while Sierra Ferrell and Colby T. Helms bring their unique brands of hard-edged country to the forefront on new releases.
Megan Moroney, “No Caller ID”
Moroney’s latest release is this superbly-crafted, fan-favorite track, which she wrote with other powerhouse writers, Jessie Jo Dillon, Connie Harrington and Jessi Alexander. The opening lyrics lay the scene as a woman whose ex always seems to re-enter her life just as she’s settled in to a better romantic situation, thanks to therapy and a newfound healthy relationship. The early verses and choruses seem to find her waffling between exhuming the past and moving on. In the bridge, she reaches the realization that answering her ex’s call equates to emotional self-harm, and refuses to replicate past mistakes, as she sings, “I’m tired of hurtin’ me/ So I let it ring.” Moroney’s debut album Lucky showcased her immense promise as both vocalist and songwriter; here, she proves her talents keep growing in depth and nuance.
Kelsey Hart, “Life With You”
Hart has earned a viral hit with this tender love song — a tuneful, tasteful track that makes for a powerful performance. Tender piano, guitar and percussion highlight Hart’s at once strong and soft-hearted voice.
Madeline Merlo, “Makeup”
Searing, courageous truths spill everywhere on Merlo’s latest, as she ponders how much of her innate mannerisms she can actually change. Gorgeously detailed lyrics of both doubt and self-acceptance abound, with Merlo asking, “Could I make love last forever if my parents never could/ Will I ever know the difference between good enough and good?” A scorcher of a performance.
Sierra Ferrell, “Dollar Bill Bar”
Ferrell sings of the longheld saloon tradition of writing names on dollar bills and stapling them to the walls of the bar. Her enchanting, lilting voice sounds effortless as she describes that she’s legendary on these bar scenes, and warns a potential suitor to not think he’s special — that her name is emblazoned on more than one dollar bill in that bar. Another sterling release from one of Americana, bluegrass and country’s most talented artists.
Colby T. Helms, “Mountain Brandy”
On his Jan. 19 album release Tales of Misfortune, Helms melds bluegrass with blues and country. Here, fiddle and mandolin wrap around an ode to homemade, mountain-spun brandy for both its medicinal properties and its connection to old-time mountain community, even as newcomers make their way into the area.