Wide Open Country's Six Pack: Michael Ray, Kacey Musgraves + More

Wide Open Country's Six Pack: Michael Ray, Kacey Musgraves + More

Every week, the Wide Open Country team rounds up our favorite newly released country, bluegrass and Americana songs. Here are six songs we currently have on repeat.

"Alive and Well," Eddie Montgomery

Eddie Montgomery, one-half of Montgomery Gentry with the late Troy Gentry and the older brother of John Michael Montgomery, candidly recounts a hellish stretch of his life with his first solo offering, "Alive and Well."

Indeed, the Montgomery, Ira Dean and Chris Wallen co-write digs deep into the journey of a country star who's faced two unspeakable losses: 19-year-old son Hunter Montgomery's 2015 death and Gentry's sudden 2017 passing in a helicopter crash.

"This was a hard song to write, but it's one that I thought so many could relate to,"  he says in a press release. "We've all had losses, fought the good fight and rose to celebrate a new day. I hope friends and fans take away a renewed sense of gratefulness for the life they live when they hear this song."'

Though the lyrics cut straight to the point at times ("It's hard to get back up again / When you lose two sons and your best friend / I won't lie and I won't pretend / I wouldn't be me if it wasn't for them"), there's a brief sense of levity when Montgomery cleverly sings about getting Haggard drunk and Willie high.

-- Bobby Moore

"Whiskey and Rain," Michael Ray

Michael Ray goes a step further than his peers when flaunting his country roots. While others turn to acoustic guitars and small-town talking points to connect with the genre's past, Ray blends fiddle accompaniment and time-tested tales of heartbreak with more modern elements. The shining example of this, "Whiskey and Rain," is in the same wheelhouse as Clay Walker's latest album (a recent high point for those of us wanting a little more twang in the mainstream).

For a chaser, consider "Holy Water," which covers the common musical ground of Travis Tritt and Blake Shelton.

-- Bobby Moore

"10-4," Jordan Rowe (Feat. Tracy Lawrence, Eddie Montgomery and Rhett Akins)

Just as Dolly Parton gave Sam Williams her stamp of approval by appearing on his song "Happy All the Time," an impressive trio of Nashville icons co-signed that Jordan Rowe's an act to watch by lending their talents to "10-4."

The closing track on Rowe's debut album Bad Case of the Good Ole Boy blends a voice you'll know soon enough with the familiar pipes of Tracy Lawrence, Eddie Montgomery and Rhett Akins. It's a fast-paced, '90s-inspired stomper likely to draw comparisons to "Be My Baby Tonight" and other classics by Eddie's little brother, John Michael Montgomery.

It's not the only collaboration on Rowe's debut. There's also breakup song "Who Needs You" (with Ashland Craft) and the sentimental "Mama's Not Jesus" (with Lainey Wilson).

-- Bobby Moore

"justified," Kacey Musgraves

Kacey Musgraves' new album star-crossed arrives on Sept. 10 and I'm anxiously waiting to listen to it. She's been releasing new songs recently, with "justified" being the second single off her fifth major-label album. The video follows Musgraves driving around as she sings, "Movin' backwards, hurt comes after/ Healing' doesn't happen in a straight line/ If I cry just a little and then laugh in the middle/ If I hate you and I love you, and then I change my mind."

Safe to say the song is a beautiful heartbreak anthem. Musgraves stated that the album is structured like a "Greek tragedy." She told Rolling Stone. "This last chapter of my life and this whole last year and chapter for our country -- at its most simple form, it's a tragedy. And then I started looking into why portraying a tragedy is actually therapeutic and why it is a form of art that has lasted for centuries."

- Silke Jasso

"If It Weren't For You,"- FINMAR

What's better than a good, slow love song? Nothing! FINMAR gives us just that with "If It Weren't For You." Beautifully written with lyrics such as, "You know you drive me crazy and you know I kinda love it/ This kind of settle down ain't what I ever woulda wanted." The duo comprising Alex Marshall and Thomas Finchum wrote the song back in 2019, saying that the lyrics ring true to their personal lives. About the song, Finchum stated, "From the day we wrote 'If It Weren't For You' back in 2019, both of us knew this song was special. We've always felt connected to the lyric because it rings true to our personal lives. I never really loved red wine, but now I drink it all the time because it's my wife's favorite."

- Silke Jasso

I Wanna Remember (Acoustic)," NEEDTOBREATHE ft. Carrie Underwood

Now I know what you're thinking, this song has been out for quite some time, but not the acoustic version. That's new! I think I like the acoustic version more than the regular because it brings out the vocals very well. The country superstar decided to join the South Carolina Christian rock band one more time for a beautiful rendition of "I Wanna Remember." It's really a gorgeous song that makes you want to remember all the good moments that you have lived. Underwood herself stated that she has been a huge fan of the band for a long time and revealed she was honored to lend her voice to the gospel album. Needless to say, it's beautiful!

- Silke Jasso

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Wide Open Country's Six Pack: Michael Ray, Kacey Musgraves + More