Alan Messer

5 New Songs You Need to Hear: Ray Wylie Hubbard feat. Ashley McBryde + More

Each week the Wide Open Country staff rounds up our favorite newly released country and Americana songs. Here are five new songs we can't stop listening to this week:

"Hard to Say I'm Sorry," Sara Evans

Sara Evans' covers album Copy That, out May 15, brings us more than renditions of "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" and other country music classics. Instead, she's gone full Willie Nelson by cutting modern pop culture standards from various genres. For instance, here's a danceable cover of a 1982 Chicago hit co-written by the band's bassist, Peter Cetera. Notice also the brief homage to Earth, Wind & Fire's "September." From the sound of things, Evans could've been a rock star, though we're glad she chose instead to push country music into a new century.

—Bobby Moore

"I Ain't Been Nowhere," Chuck Mead

In late April, BR5-49 co-founder Chuck Mead shared a re-write of Hank Snow's "I've Been Everywhere" that's got to be the funniest quarantine parody song yet. Seriously, who else could sneak a mention of Cards Against Humanity into a classic country throwback without eliciting eyerolls? The original song was written by Australian country singer Geoff Mack and has been recorded over 130 times since Mack's fellow Australian Lucky Starr debuted it in 1962.

—Bobby Moore

"Poet's Prayer," Sunny Sweeney

Writing on the road might not suit every artist's routine, but touring, including the 20-plus hours a day spent nowhere near a venue, inspires honest depictions of a modern troubadour's life. The best recent song to back this up is Sunny Sweeney's "Poet's Prayer," a co-write with Erin Enderlin and Buddy Owen. "The only time I see my friends is on a poster on a barroom wall" begins a reflective tune which doubles as a prayer for safe travels and comfy hotel pillows.

—Bobby Moore

"Outlaw Blood," Ray Wylie Hubbard & Ashley McBryde

Ray Wylie Hubbard and Ashley McBryde sing an ode to outlaw women everywhere on "Outlaw Blood." The country rebels nod to one another in the song. "She loves to Ashley McBryde sing/ Says Jesus is like duct tape — fixes everything," Hubbard sings. In turn, McBryde drops a reference to Hubbard fan favorite "Snake Farm." The two artists clearly have a lot of respect for one another and it's difficult to image a better — or more fitting — outlaw paring. The collaboration is featured on Hubbard's forthcoming album Co-Starring (out July 10).

— Bobbie Jean Sawyer

"Hometown," Malin Pettersen

Norwegian singer-songwriter Malin Pettersen finds freedom in leaving on the country groover "Hometown," the latest release from her forthcoming album Wildhorse (out on Oct. 16).

"America has inspired this album in a very direct way, through places I've been like California, to places I've only read about like Arkansas," Pettersen said in a press release. "I am so fascinated by the way that America is so many things. So many layers... so many worlds in one. It feels like my own mind, and sometimes that many worlds in one can be difficult to co-exist, but that's one of the things that makes America so marvelous, intriguing, and fascinating - so I try to accept the same with my mind and the ways I want to create music."

— Bobbie Jean Sawyer

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