Kelsea Ballerini feat. Kenny Chesney, "Half of My Hometown"
I wouldn't think these two voices would work together, but they actually really do. They compliment each other well, but the production veers a little too much towards generic pop-country, particularly the backing track. Still, it's competently written and well-performed, so it's close to as good as you'll get on mainstream radio.
Brantley Gilbert feat. HARDY and Toby Keith, "The Worst Country Song of All Time"
This isn't funny or clever, as much as they probably thought it was the most hilarious track ever known to man. Amounts to nothing more than "haha city folks bad my truck good". It sounds like most bad Brantley Gilbert songs with the obnoxious guitars and bravado, and it's not especially catchy. Waste of time from three artists known to waste our time frequently.
Dan + Shay, "Steal My Love"
Sounds more or less like their last eight singles. The act's growing old. They sound nice singing but the production is slick, not at all country, and completely uninteresting. They haven't sounded interesting singing sappy love songs since "From the Ground Up", and haven't been entertaining at all since "Tequila", and this is an entirely low-effort track from a duo that has run out of ideas.
Jordan Davis feat. Luke Bryan, "Buy Dirt"
I have a soft spot for Jordan Davis. He's a solid vocalist who can sing good songs, when he's not trend chasing. His debut album blended decent storytelling with big sounds, and I enjoyed it. This is a rootsier sound, and he sounds awesome. It's charming, well-constructed, and actually country. Luke Bryan adds to rather than takes away from it. Nice work.
Scotty McCreery. "You Time"
This song says nothing you haven't heard a thousand times already. He has a good girlfriend, very nice, but who cares. Production is generic and sterile. You won't remember this by this time next year. It's one thing to be actively bad; it's another to be this mind numbingly pointless.
Lainey Wilson, "Things a Man Oughta Know"
Delightfully bouncy production that's actually rooted in the traditions of country music. Wilson is a compelling vocalist and performer and delivers this with a charming sincerity. It's a little bit too reliant on the list structure, but this still really works and I'm glad it's a hit.
Luke Combs, "Cold As You"
He sounds good. The writing is fine. It sounds fine. But it also sounds like a lot of his other stuff. Big chorus, a few clever lines, but he needs to start changing it up a bit, because the melody and structure here are reminiscent of most everything he's done lately. I appreciate that it's actually a country record, but at some point that's not enough.
Lady A, "Like a Lady"
Ocean was a great album that saw Lady A blending their AC pop tendencies really nicely with more organic foundations. This feels more like the nonsense they put out circa 747. No melody, no personality, and nothing that sonically grabs you. Melody is so grating as to be physically painful to listen to. Hard pass.
Kane Brown, "One Mississippi"
Brown sounds really good on this, and he delivers it well. I've always thought he's a strong vocalist, and he proves it here. The chorus veers too much into generic pop-country, but there are some nice production elements here (the opening, the acoustic guitar in the bridge), and there's a real sense of urgency. Hardly perfect, but pretty good.
Zac Brown Band, "Same Boat"
They seem to be at least somewhat aware of their behaviour the past few year and are trying to move back towards their roots. That's good, this is not. It's just "Toes" but worse. I get that the beach thing works for them, but this feels like phoning it in, honestly.