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Keith Urban, The Speed of Now, Part 1

Musical explorer Urban returns with his latest sonic alchemy that blends several music genres, all united by his singular guitar playing and vibrant vocals. From the funk/electronica of “Out The Cage,” featuring Breland and Nile Rodgers to a gorgeous duet with P!nk on “One Too Many” and his sizzling guitar work on “Forever” and the social justice call of “Say Something” (which turns into a much more personal statement as the song progress), Urban creates one of his sonically diverse albums yet.

Luke Combs featuring Amanda Shires, “Without You”

Combs pairs with the supremely talented Amanda Shires on violin this mid-tempo sweet ode to his parents and others who have sacrificed to make his success possible. “They never hear the crowd scream your name…I’d give it all up to keep your love, but you wouldn’t let me because you care too much about watching me watch all my dreams come true.” Combs debuted the song at an All For The Hall event in Los Angeles last year when it was a work in progress and it’s nice to hear it fully realized. The last verse is dedicated to the fans who come to his shows including “paying $20 damn dollars for a place to park so you deserve every line of your favorite tune.” May he always stay as humble as he is in this song.

Bon Jovi and Jennifer Nettles, “Do What You Can”

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Bon Jovi and Nettles struck gold before with “Who Says You Can’t Go Home” 15 years ago. While this song doesn’t have the irresistible chorus that nugget contained, it serves as an undeniably detailed and moving time capsule to life during the pandemic. They lyrics and the New York-centric video (including the voice over opening) are the same as the band version (although Nettles is added in and her vocals replace the band’s backing vocals).

Brett Eldredge, “When The Party’s Over”

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It’s always fun to hear artists cover songs from other musicians. Eldredge shows off his love for Billie Eilish’s “When The Party’s Over” with this live cover. While Eilish’s original has more layers and is more atmospheric and haunting, Eldredge brings a stripped-down interpretation to the dark song that shows off his strong vocals.

Andrew Jannakos, “Gone Too Soon”

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You may remember Jannakos from his blind audition for The Voice in 2019, but if you don’t, prepare to be hearing his name a lot more soon. “Gone Too Soon” has already topped iTunes all-genre Sales chart in the U.S. and has lit up TikTok and Shazam. The mid-tempo, guitar-driven song recounts a lover who proves elusive. “Just when it’s getting good, you hit me with goodbye” in this track that captures Jannakos’ vulnerability perfectly. (Spoiler alert: the story has a happy ending. Jannakos wrote it about his then-girlfriend, who is now his fiancé).

Adam Doleac, “Meet Me in the City”

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Doleac’s latest is one of his most contagious and sonically interesting. With his yearning vocals, he longs to meet his love to meet him in city “where the sun don’t set” and promises a night “we’ll never forget.” It’s a feel-good, propulsive song when we can use it the most that deserves to be heard blaring out of car radios everywhere.

Ian Munsick, “Long Haul”

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New Warner Music Nashville signee stands out from the raft of sound-alike new male vocalists that country music continually churns out. Between Munsick’s distinctive voice and the mandolin-laced melody, mid-tempo “Long Haul” is a testament to a lasting commitment no matter what comes. Also, at a time when many of us in lockdown, the visuals of Munsick’s native Wyoming are a feast.

Elvie Shane, “My Boy”

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Like Musick, new Wheelhouse Records artist Shane goes for the personal and rises above the cluster with this tenderhearted tribute to his stepson. “I wasn’t there for his first steps, but I haven’t missed a ballgame yet,” he says on this moving ballad. “He ain’t my blood, but he’s my boy,” Shane sings in a song that could become an anthem for stepdads the world over.

Luke Laird, Music Row

Laird turns his focus inward on this deeply personal collection of songs that chronicles his journey from rural Pennsylvania to one of Nashville’s top songwriters, collecting more than 24 No. 1s for such artists as Carrie Underwood, Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney. No matter how personal the song, whether it be about his path to sobriety on “That’s Why I Don’t Drink” to a look at marriage on “One More Divorce” or a salute to his pals on “Good Friends,” universal truths shine through and make the entire effort relatable no matter what your career.

RoadHouse, RoadHouse

New duo, Dee Jay Silver and DJ Ikon, aim to be country’s answer to the Chainsmokers, presenting a blend of remixes of established hits as well as new productions. The three-track EP serves as a nice introduction between the nostalgic “Reckless Kids” featuring Odell, insinuating “No Peace” featuring RaeLynn and “Talking with Our Hands” featuring Jimmie Allen. The only question is what took so long?

Ashley Campbell featuring Vince Gill, “If It Wasn’t”

Glen Campbell’s daughter, Ashley, shows that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. On this gorgeous track that recalls Roy Orbison, Ashley sings of a love that leaves her crying every night. As he always does, Gill adds lovely, understated harmonies. Campbell’s album comes out Oct. 9.

Roman Alexander, “Cocktail Conversations”

Newcomer Alexander shows off a genial, easy-going style on this radio-friendly song about striking up a conversation with woman at a bar and being willing to see where it will lead. Alexander has been working with Jerry Flowers, Keith Urban’s longtime musical director, on his songwriting for his EP, which comes out in November.

https://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/country/9452226/first-country-keith-urban-luke-combs-bon-jovi-jennifer-nettles/

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