6 Must-Hear New Country Songs: ERNEST, Alexandra Kay, Shaboozey & More

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This week’s batch of new music includes ERNEST’s bluegrass-tinged latest, a promising debut from Alexandra Kay, a heartfelt, timely song from Frank Ray and Shy Carter, as well as a pair of songs from Red Clay Strays and Shaboozey that are surging on streaming platforms.

Also, Texas music mainstay Aaron Watson pairs with several female artists, including Kylie Frey and Jenna Paulette, to honor songs from women artists in various decades.

ERNEST, “Kiss of Death”

On his breakthrough hit “Flower Shops,” the mononymed singer-songwriter drew upon traditional country influences, while his Flower Shops (The Album) was chock-full of twangy songs about heartbreak and alcohol. Here, ERNEST launches his “new era” by wrapping himself in bluegrass harmonies on “Kiss of Death,” with lyrics that find him willingly walking a fine line, willing to accept the inevitable heartbreak his “angel in a fire-red dress will bring,” if it means he gets a single evening of lust-fueled passion. “I think I like the pain/ And if it ends tonight, that’ll be okay,” he sings, on this track he co-wrote with Andy Albert and Ryan Vojtesak.

Alexandra Kay, “Everleave”

Kay follows her breakthrough 2021 hit “That’s What Love Is” with the 11-song debut album All I’ve Ever Known — featuring this vulnerable, solo-penned ballad that traces a woman’s decade spent languishing in an unfulfilling relationship and honors the notion of her resolve to leave. “I can’t keep pouring from a cup so empty/ Then turn my back and try to sleep at night,” Kay sings with both stunning intimacy and verve, underscoring the portrait of someone always giving to a lover who refuses to reciprocate the same kindness. The glossy, piano-led “Everleave,” like the rest of the album, presents Kay as an adept, propitious singer-songwriter.

Aaron Watson, Cover Girl

Texas music circuit mainstay Watson helps spotlight the mighty talents of numerous women artists on his latest project, Cover Girl, filled with duets on many female-fronted, classic country songs (and a pop song or two), spanning different decades. Watson and Jenna Paulette pair up on Rosanne Cash’s “Seven Year Ache,” while he teams with Kylie Frey for Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5,” Bri Bagwell for a take on Sheryl Crow’s “Can’t Cry Anymore,” Kimberly Kelly for “You’re the Reason God Made Oklahoma” and with Morgan Myles for Lady Gaga’s “Million Reasons.” The album closes with a familial collaboration, with Watson teaming with his daughter Jolee Kate for a rendition of Taylor Swift’s “Never Grow Up.”

Frank Ray and Shy Carter, “Jesus at the Taco Truck”

Shy Carter and Frank Ray posted a snippet of this song on TikTok last month and the song has quickly amassed over two million views, thanks to a vivid storyline. “Jesus at the Taco Truck” is heartfelt, timely and bridge-building. The lyrics detail meeting a man who made a harrowing journey, walking across the Rio Grande into Texas, and working long hours at a taco truck to help provide for family members still living in Mexico. Crafted by Ray, Carter, Ben Burgess and Nathan Chapman, this is a tender, compassionate tribute to the hardships so many face in a quest for freedom and a better life. This marks a crucial new release from Carter and Ray.

Red Clay Strays, “Wondering Why”

Known for their soul-meets-southern rock stylings, The Red Clay Strays have been on the road over the past year opening shows for Eric Church and Elle King. The quintet’s soulful Alabama roots and fiery live performance style permeate this song. “Wondering Why” was included on the group’s 2022 debut album A Moment of Truth, but it has been surging on streaming platforms of late, landing on Spotify’s all-genre Viral 50 chart. Written by the group’s Brandon Coleman and Drew Nix with songwriter Dan Couch (Kip Moore, Cody Johnson), the song details a highbrow-meets-hardscrabble romance that, on paper, shouldn’t work–but does. Lead singer Coleman’s gruff, impassioned vocal shines here as always, bolstered by the group’s exemplary musicianship.

Shaboozey, “Let It Burn”

“Grab the matches/ start a fire,” Shaboozey sings on this aptly-titled track, as it has been a red-hot track on streaming platforms as of late, appearing on Spotify’s all-genre Viral 50 chart. The song is a heady marriage of guitar-driven country, R&B and hip-hop elements, meshing into a distinct blend of pop melody and empowering message, as the singer-songwriter urges someone to leave bad memories and experiences behind and embrace the courage to seek a brighter future.

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