First Country: Thomas Rhett, Scotty McCreery, Tanya Tucker & More

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

Thomas Rhett, Merry Christmas Y’all

Thomas Rhett is already feeling festive, with the release of his first holiday project. The polished four-song EP finds the singer-songwriter bringing his warm, relaxed sound to classics including “Winter Wonderland” (bolstered with sleek horns and soft percussion) and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”

Scotty McCreery, “Small Town Story”

McCreery’s latest continues in his winning arc of songs pulled from chapters of his own life, chronicling his own small town story, from learning guitar and playing sports, getting his first truck and falling in love. The song will be included on his upcoming deluxe version of his album Same Truck, out Nov. 18.

Tanya Tucker, “Ready as I’ll Never Be”

In 2020, Tanya Tucker experienced a career resurgence when her album While I’m Livin’ and song “Bring My Flowers Now” earned Tucker her first Grammy wins, nearly 50 years after she got her start in the industry. Today, the documentary The Return of Tanya Tucker (Featuring Brandi Carlile) releases in select theaters and chronicles the making of the project. The doc also includes this new track, which matches Tucker’s wisdom-filled, life-weathered voice with lyrics of life, nostalgia and moving on.

Tyler Hubbard, “I’m the Only One” (Video)

A newly minted solo artist, Hubbard highlights his comedic and acting skills in this new music video. He works at an upscale clothing store, and when the shop closes, it’s time to cut up and have fun. The clip is a lighthearted complement for this jovial love song, which will be included on Hubbard’s upcoming debut solo album, which releases in January 2023.

HunterGirl, “Hometown Out of Me”

Former American Idol contestant HunterGirl makes her debut release following her time on the show, with her first release for 19 Recordings/BMG. On her first post-show song, she makes sure fans know she hasn’t left her Winchester, Tennessee roots. She wrote the song with Laura Veltz and Jimmy Robbins, and the lyrics nod to the small town as the reason for her fearlessness (“Maybe you ain’t scared of crashing/ When you got a place to land”). The sweetly sentimental song is a perfect foil for her likable, girl next door-made-good persona and strong voice, and a pleasant pop/country outing that chronicles her current moment of transcending from talented aspiring artist, to make her first steps toward the big leagues.

Jessie James Decker with Billy Currington, “I Still Love You”

Decker and Currington reunite for another duet, following the song “Good Night,” which was featured on Currington’s 2015 album, Summer Forever. “I Still Love You” centers on a couple that falls apart, only for each to discover they are better together. Sonically, the song falls neatly into Currington’s slow-groove, R&B-tinged wheelhouse and gives Decker space to let loose on some soulful vocal runs. While it would never be mistaken for Currington’s 2004 duet with Shania Twain on the boppy “Party for Two,” it does further showcase the influence Twain’s career has had on Decker.

Greylan James, “Old Truck Young Love”

This laid-back, radio-ready track is the latest release from singer-songwriter Greylan James, known as a writer on Kenny Chesney’s “Happy Does,” among other songs. Here, he continues to show his knack as both an artist as well as a writer, on a track he wrote with Jessi Alexander, Ben Hayslip, and NBA All-Star Jimmy Butler.

Noah Thompson, “Make You Rich”

Thompson draws on his Kentucky roots and past career as a construction worker, as he passes on lessons he’s learned along the way, like valuing family and friends over materialistic things, and being a person of character. “A man is measured by more than a treasure stacked up in a bank,” he sings, adding, “Be a better man than your old man was.” A promising release from this former American Idol winner.

Jessica Nicholson