They may seem like less of a vital cog in country stars' promotional machines than they were when multiple cable channels devoted to the medium helped make Shania Twain and John Michael Montgomery household names, but music videos still enhance the stories told by some of your favorite artists and songwriters.
Read on for a roundup of the best music videos released in recent weeks by country, folk, bluegrass and Americana acts.
"Freedom Was a Highway," Jimmie Allen Feat. Brad Paisley
Superstar collaboration "Freedom Was a Highway" was already one of the best songs on country radio, an ideal jam for August road trips and a comforting reminder of simpler times for those of us who are no longer summer young.
Somehow, it's gotten better with the addition of a music video co-directed by Jimmie Allen. An ideal mile marker for where country music's at in 2021 resonates even more with visuals ranging from the sentimental (that classic, red Ford Mustang) to the surreal (Allen's superhero landing (Black Widow's sister would give him hell for that, as we learned from a summer blockbuster)).
It's all in line with Allen and co-writers Ash Bowers and Matt Rogers' appeal to the hometown dreamer in all of us.
"When I was writing this song with my co-writers, I imagined myself driving down my favorite roads in Delaware," Allen said in a press release. "This song takes me back to simpler moments such as an innocent, childhood crush on the next-door neighbor or feeling freedom in the wind as you drive with the windows down. I've loved this song from the creation. I'm a huge admirer of Brad Paisley. I love what he brings to music and I had to have him bring that same magic to this song. I'm humbled to have him join me on this song - he brought the freedom to the highway."
"One Mississippi," Kane Brown
Kane Brown tells a story of romantic rendezvous from the country fair in the music video for "One Mississippi." Musically, it's a cross between Brown's high-octane vision for pop influenced country music and a fiery fiddle tune.
The story behind the song begins on social media.
"So this song, I found a guy from Alabama tagged me in a story on Instagram," Kane told Audacy. "And he tagged two other artists and I'm super excited that I opened it. He was a great singer... It was a really good song that he was singing that he wrote. So I asked him to come up to Nashville and write a song with me to see if we could get something to sign into my publishing company. He came to Nashville with the title called 'One Mississippi,' and I kind of sat back and let him do his thing... He's batting 1000 for the first time we wrote. It's his first single so thank you Levon Gray."
Gray has since signed to Brown's publishing company, Verse 2 Music.
"Good Life," Timmy Brown
Consider the title track of Timmy Brown's newest album Good Life for a rocking addition to your summertime country playlist.
Sure, there's plenty of modern country songs about spending carefree days with small town friends, but "trope" is just a highfalutin word for something that continually connects with country audiences. There's no shame in going to that well if, like Brown, you add your own personal touch.
Brown's lyrical take on reminiscing about past fun to get pumped for the coming weekend and its music video paint pictures of a beer-chugging, beach-bumming good time with buddies made long before the singer-songwriter charted his current course toward country stardom.
"We had a blast filming during a mini-tour I had in Florida," Brown said in a press release. "I hope everyone can feel the positive energy throughout the music video and listening to the song!"
"Buy Dirt," Jordan Davis Feat. Luke Bryan
Another superstar duet that's brought rich storytelling to country radio pairs Jordan Davis with Luke Bryan. Together, they hat-tip small-town life and earthy wisdom without it descending into predictable talk of drinking cold beers or courting Midwest or Southeast farmers' daughters.
It's an easy sell for fans of mainstream country, but frankly, no flowery description of the song's themes of family, faith and farming will win over many potential listeners who aren't familiar with Davis or fans of Bryan. What might impress old souls is this: the intro pays tribute to the late John Prine and his song "Blow Up Your TV."
Davis covers "Blow Up Your TV" on his Buy Dirt EP.
"I have stood by how much Prine meant to me, but I've never introduced that to my fan base," Davis told American Songwriter. "Including 'Blow Up Your TV' is my way to show a younger generation his music. By giving them an excerpt, maybe they'll dive further into the goodness that is John Prine. I know how his songs make me feel, and I hope someone else can find that through this EP."
"Boat Names," Brian Kelley
"Boat Names," the opening track on Brian Kelley's (BK from Florida Georgia Line) debut solo album Sunshine State of Mind Season One, holds a special meaning for him and his wife, the former Brittney Marie Cole. It's about the lofty relationship goal of affording to own a boat so you can name it after a significant other, as the BK did when he purchased the Brittney Marie.
"I wrote it true to being a dreamer, and just being like, 'Hey babe, one of these days I'm gonna make your name one of them boat names. We're gonna do it,'" he told Taste of Country Nights.
Bethany Ashton Wolf's heartfelt music video follows Brian and Brittney's love story, from meeting on a dock in Florida as kids to their current status as a celebrity couple.
"We started crying reading it down, like, 'Oh my gosh, this is absolutely incredible,'" BK told Taste of Country Nights. "I love the mini-movie idea, and I think it's, some of it's been done before in a sense, but for me and Brittney and our love story, showing that, it's just ... it feels fresh to us and we couldn't be more excited to get it out."
"Girl Who Didn't Care," Tenille Townes
The video for Canadian country troubadour Tenille Townes' "Girl Who Didn't Care" tells four stories about dreamers' journeys from wide-eyed children to notable contributors in their chosen fields.
Beyond telling her own story, Townes shines a spotlight on Alyssa Carson, an astronaut with a shot at becoming one of the first humans to land on Mars; Sarah Fuller, the Vanderbilt University kicker who became the first woman to ever play and score points in a Power Five conference college football game; and Shannon Wells, a firefighter in Nashville and the type of hero that doesn't always make headlines.
"For the music video, I knew I wanted to capture the wonder of a few different little dreamers in that sweet age spot of believing anything is possible in this music video," Townes said in a press release. "And then it became such an important part of my vision for the video to highlight real stories of real women who have made the seemingly impossible happen."