RS Country Music Picks for Week of July 5th

Whether it’s coming out of Nashville, New York, L.A., or points in between, there’s no shortage of fresh tunes, especially from artists who have yet to become household names. Rolling Stone Country selects some of the best new music releases from country and Americana artists. (Check out last week’s best songs.)

Tosha Hill, “Forty Miles”

Alabama singer-songwriter Tosha Hill’s “Forty Miles” opens on a quintessentially bleak scene. “Forty miles west of Little Rock/Not a penny to my name,” she sings, her powerful voice carrying shades of Margo Price and Linda Ronstadt with a muscular country-rock arrangement pushing things along. The title track from a 2021 EP, “Forty Miles” follows in that grand tradition of weary road songs like “Little Past Little Rock” and “Amarillo by Morning,” a promising entry that makes Hill a young performer worth watching.

Ashley Cooke, “Already Drank That Beer”

The best country music can always find a fresh way to write about stale beer. Jessi Alexander, Jessie Jo Dillon, and Wendell Mobley do that here in “Already Drank That Beer,” a ballad about dead-end romances brought to vivid life by Ashley Cooke. The up-and-coming singer is all sultry regret when she sings about past New Orleans trips and how “crazy good” those days were. But as Cooke admits, she and her ex should both know how this ends. They’ve been there before: “It’s too bad, baby, that we already drank that beer.”

Greta Gaines, “Empty Spaces”

Former world snowboarding champion Greta Gaines is back with the new album Pale Star, her first musical release since 2017. One standout track is “Empty Spaces,” which Gaines penned in honor of her late collaborators Bucky Baxter and Rick Will. “Can’t go home without you there, it’s just not fair,” Gaines sings in a clear tone reminiscent of Aimee Mann, while the music blooms from a sturdy folk-rock arrangement into a psychedelic swirl of pinging keys and brass. It’s a cavernous sound that reverberates with the ache of loss.

Ray Fulcher, “Bucket List Beers”

It may not be the radio single off Ray Fulcher’s new EP (that’d be the charming “Girl in It”), but “Bucket List Beers” is the track we have on repeat. A concise, less-than-three-minute gem, it boasts a clever take on beer songs, a catchy AF hook, and early Eric Church production. It’s Fulcher’s earnest delivery that sells it all, however, as he equates a brew with a “12 ounce cold-can stamp on time/marking the highlights of a damn good life.” It even opens with a lyrical call-out to the Fourth of July — just perfect for your holiday weekend playlist.

Raleigh Keegan, “Drink for That”

“There’s always gonna be loose strings for beat-up old guitars,” Raleigh Keegan sings in his latest single “Drink for That,” but as he notes, healing for a broken heart isn’t so easy to come by. Less of a drinking song than a breakup song, “Drink for That” pits the soulful vocals of Cincinnati native Keegan against a backdrop of brooding alt-rock guitar work, deepening the feeling of loneliness. But when the drums kick in, the song breaks loose from those moorings and drives toward a brighter tomorrow. Keegan doesn’t have a solution for his heartbreak at hand; his song might be a lifeline for anyone else feeling the same.