Inspired to detail her own story after seeing a video of a young girl who was sent home from school because her hair was deemed by school officials as “too distracting,” Guyton penned this powerful missive of self-love and self-acceptance with Anna Krantz. “I found my freedom when I learned not to care/ Now I’m not scared I love who I am/ I love my hair,” Guyton sings, her capable voice filled with hard-earned wisdom and joy. “Love My Hair” will be included on Guyton’s upcoming album Remember Her Name, out Sept. 24.
Sam Hunt, “23”
Hunt gets wistful and nostalgic on his new track “23,” blissfully recalling the days he and an ex-lover spent in Memphis, New Orleans and at Folly beach. Even though he and his ex have each moved on with their lives — new jobs, new cities, new romances–those memories of young love come easily, as he sings, “no matter where I go, no matter what I do/ I’ll never be 23 with anyone but you.” Hunt wrote the song with Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne and Chris LaCorte.
Walker Hayes feat. Kesha, “Fancy Like”
Walker Hayes’ infectious, inescapable single about living it up on date night with bourbon street steaks and Oreo shakes from Applebee’s is currently in the Top 10 on Billboard‘s Hot 100, but here, he teams with Kesha (a Nashville native) to give the song an extra shot of swagger. Kesha tweaks the lyrics to include her preference for the “cheap thrills” of the Deep South, like Waffle House over Dom Pérignon. She joins Hayes on the chorus while sprinkling in plenty of ad libs and soulful vocal riffs.
Jon Randall, Jon Randall
Singer-songwriter Randall, known for writing songs including “Whiskey Lullaby” and “Tin Man,” has stepped more into the spotlight this year, first as one-third of The Marfa Tapes collective alongside Miranda Lambert and Jack Ingram. Now, Randall releases his first album in nearly 15 years with this nine-song, self-titled project. One track from the album, “The Road,” a solo write from Randall, seems especially poignant, detailing life on the road, from sharing stories over glasses of wine, late morning wakeup calls, and a place where “the diesel in my lungs startin’ to smell like home.” Throughout the project, Randall’s talent for exquisite detail is on display, particularly on songs like “Driving to Mexico” and “Streets of Dallas,” which bring an intimate world-weary tone to lyrics of despair and loneliness.
Cole Swindell, “Some Habits”
He’s got a few habits he’s not so proud of, but staying with his lover is one habit he doesn’t plan on breaking. “As long as it’s you that I don’t gotta lose/ then everything else I can,” Swindell sings on this followup to his previous Billboard Country Airplay chart-topper “Single Saturday Night.” Swindell’s warm, everyman voice lends credibility to his rendering of this song about his affinity for strong love and good bourbon. The song was penned by Chris LaCorte, Scooter Carusoe and Josh Miller.
Tanya Tucker and RuPaul, “This Is Our Country”
Defiant lyrics, trap beats and the influence of the Lil Nas X/Billy Ray Cyrus smash “Old Town Road” drive this collaboration between Grammy winner Tanya Tucker and television personality and drag queen RuPaul. The track drips with determination and confidence, and was featured in the season finale of RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars 6, which also featured an appearance from Tucker. The song namechecks Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash, but also champions loving who you love and being proud of overcoming setbacks to forge your own path.
Erin Enderlin feat. Terri Clark, “If There Weren’t So Many D–n Songs”
Enderlin welcomes Terri Clark on this refreshing, fiddle-drenched ode to the enduring lure of barrooms as a balm to cure (or at least temporarily numb) a broken heart. “Everything’s been said about the ways my heart’s breaking/ And honky tonks were made for fools like me,” they sing, Enderlin’s lighter, soothing tone a perfect match with Clark’s slightly grittier tone. Enderlin wrote the song with Kayla Ray and also produced the track, which is included on Enderlin’s upcoming EP Barroom Mirrors, out Oct. 15.
Dylan Schneider, “21 and Over”
Time goes fast, but memories last forever. On the surface, Schneider’s new track seems to be simply another song filled with nostalgia for younger days. However, Schneider and his co-writers Gabe Foust and Nate Kenyon deepen the song’s emotional resonance, filling the song with details of a young love that fizzles as two people who were once just teens longing to grow up, have now quickly grown up and moved on from each other.
Jordan Fletcher, “Rather Be Broke”
Shimmering guitar work is an undertow on Fletcher’s first release on Triple Tigers Records, as he sings of how he’d readily prefer being cash-strapped, but with his lover over riches and mansions with ocean views. “I’d rather be broke/ Penny pinching just to stay afloat, instead wishing for the stuff I don’t need/ ‘Cause I got you,” he sings, making it clear that his current romance is a stronger lure than expensive wares. Fletcher wrote the track with Ian Christian and Stephen Carey.
MacKenzie Porter, “Unlonely Me”
Porter co-wrote this track with Craig Wiseman and Nick Bailey. The track simmers with yearning for a former love, powered by Porter’s killer vocals and perfectly radio-friendly production. Though she’s perfectly aware she and an ex are just friends and knows “love has made us jaded,” she still longs to rekindle the relationship — and makes the bold choice to say something about it.
Tiffany Woys, “About Love”
Penned by Jason Saenz, Sara Haze and Sam Ellis, this smooth pop-country confection revels in the rush of the earliest moments of a close relationship on the precipice of tumbling from friendship to romance. “It’s layin’ your heart out on the line just to feel that rush,” Woys sings, as her intimate (yet chipper) vocal imbues the song with an extra buoyancy. The song’s sunny production feels reminiscent of the irresistible sounds of some of Taylor Swift’s early work and late ’90s country acts such as SheDaisy.