First Country: New Music From Brandy Clark, Tenille Arts, Steve Martin & More

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

The start of 2020 brings the promise of several new albums, including this week’s Love, Heartbreak, & Everything in Between by Tenille Arts, as well as countless singles by newcomers and legends alike.

Revered songwriter Brandy Clark has announced her much anticipated third studio album, Your Life Is a Record, out March 6. The news comes with the unveiling of her first single from the project, “Who You Thought I Was.” Meanwhile, ahead of the Cadillac Three’s upcoming Feb. 7 release of Country Fuzz the trio have dropped the infectious barn burner “Hard Out Here for a Country Boy” with Chris Janson and Travis Tritt.

Newcomer Filmore as well as film icon, comedian and American roots musician Steve Martin also have new singles out. Martin teams up with the Steep Canyon Rangers for the endearing “California” while Filmore struggles saying goodbye to an ex on “State I’m In.”

Below, listen to some of the best new country releases this week.

Brandy Clark, “Who You Thought I Was”

Clark returns with her descriptive lyrics and mesmerizing vocals on the uplifting “Who You Thought I Was.” On the soaring ballad, Clark tells an ex that she wants to be a better person now that her significant other is gone from her life. “Now I wanna be better/ I wanna be the me I should’ve been when we were together/ I wanna be at least almost close to worth your love,” she croons on the chorus.

“The seed of the song came from something that John Prine said a couple of years ago at the Americana Awards,” Clark says in a statement. “He walked out onstage at the Ryman and everyone stood up and clapped for what felt like five minutes. When everyone sat down, he said with a little laugh, ‘Well, I’m John Prine, but I’d like to go back to being who you thought I was.’ Man…that hit me. The songwriter in me instantly knew it was a song and the heart in me knew it was how I had felt in my own life many times. I mean who of us hasn’t let somebody down or wanted to be the version of ourselves that someone who loved us thought we were?”

Filmore, “State I’m In”

Filmore can’t seem to stop thinking about his ex on the infectious “State I’m In.” With slick beats and his warm, yearning vocals, it’s evident that the singer is having a hard time moving on despite the danceable track. While he tries his best to ignore an ex's text messages throughout his travels, he can’t seem to “outrun your memory," a sentiment we've all felt before.

Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers, “California”

Martin teams up with the Steep Canyon Rangers for the roots-based “California.” A relationship song that serves, in part, as an ode to the Golden State and all it has to offer, Martin & Co. try to convince a girl to move there with them. “Oklahoma’s got tornadoes/ Don’t you want the L.A. sun,” they ask while singing on the front porch drinking rum. All the while, Martin’s steady vocals combined with Steep Canyon Rangers’ finger-picked rhythms strike a chord.

Tenille Arts, Love, Heartbreak, & Everything in Between

The title of Arts’ new album Love, Heartbreak, & Everything in Between explains it all. Twelve carefully crafted songs that Arts wrote or co-wrote herself, the singer/songwriter’s heart bleeds onto every page. There are hopeful songs that uplift and poignant breakup songs that leave a mark on the listener. Delicate love songs like “Slow It Down,” the hopeful “Butterfly Effect,” and rollicking "Wouldn't You Like to Know" are optimistic while Art’s emotive vocals can be heard loud and clear on breakup song “I Hate This” and the striking piano ballad “In Another Life.” Whether an upbeat tune or piano ballad, all the while, her delicate vocals enchant.

The Cadillac Three, “Hard Out Here for a Country Boy” feat. Chris Janson and Travis Tritt

The Cadillac Three capture the listener’s attention the moment the first chord of “Hard Out Here For a Country Boy” is played. With foot-stomping rhythms, ear-grabbing guitar riffs and a choir-like singing style thanks to assistance by Chris Janson and Travis Tritt, “Hard Out Here For a Country Boy” begs to be put on repeat. Additional harmonica features by Janson make the already fast-paced song a certified barn burner.

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