Here are the latest tunes and artists you should be listening to in the new year.
From bona fide icons to up-and-comers, we’ve compiled our favorite country releases for a fresh C&I-curated country music playlist.
Raye Zaragoza, “Enough” with Milck (from the album Hold That Spirit, out now)
With brilliantly strong vocals, Zaragoza sings about the push and pull between ambition and contentment. Her O’odham heritage on her father’s side has always informed her artistry, and her latest album is no exception.
Tyler Childers, “In Your Love” (from the album Rustin’ in the Rain, out now)
Childers can go from down-home authenticity to elegant, big statement romance with such ease. This one will jerk a tear or two if you’ve ever known that kind of love.
Maren Morris, “The Tree” (from the EP The Bridge, out now)
She’s laid bare her struggles to find open-mindedness in the country music genre. Not unlike The Chicks before her, she now makes a calculated move to leave the darker parts of the genre behind while retaining her rootsy style and storytelling lyrics that make her great.
Luke Grimes, “No Horse To Ride” (from the EP Pain Pills or Pews, out now)
We talked to the Yellowstone star back when he was working on his debut EP, and the results haven’t disappointed. He sounds right at home with a raspy voice and a message of love.
Vincent Neil Emerson, “Little Wolf’s Invincible Yellow Medicine Paint” (from the album The Golden Crystal Kingdom, out now)
This East Texas troubadour with Choctaw-Apache roots honors his heritage in the hauntingly beautiful story song and accompanying music video for the first single from his latest album.
Rhiannon Giddens, “Yet To Be with Jason Isbell” (from the album You’re the One, out now)
Giddens and Isbell bring their most confident vocals on a toe-tapping country blues story song.
Willie Nelson, “Still Is Still Moving To Me” (from the album Bluegrass, out now)
Willie always keeps it interesting for his listeners and himself. On his latest collection, he tackles many of his older hits with urgent bluegrass arrangements. It’s quite a natural fit, especially on his tune about the virtues of staying in motion.
Chris Stapleton, “White Horse” (from the album Higher, out now)
A touch of Southern gothic eeriness at the beginning makes the payoff of Stapleton’s soul-stirring anthem that much sweeter.
Brothers Osborne, “Goodbye’s Kickin’ In” (from the album Brothers Osborne, out now)
These brothers always put some muscle into their arrangements, and this tune also adds some soulful vocal refrains. We like where these guys are going.
Ashley McBryde, “Women Ain’t Whisky” (from the album The Devil I Know, out now)
She continues to be one of the most vital songwriters in country; this one urges a cowboy barfly not to take a good woman for granted.
Tanya Tucker, “Breakfast In Birmingham” with Brandi Carlile (from the album Sweet Western Sound, out now)
We’re so glad Brandi and Tanya found each other. As singing and songwriting partners, they’re both seasoned and refreshing.
Dolly Parton, “What’s Up?” with Linda Perry (from the album Rockstar, out now)
The original version of this reflection-and-recovery anthem was an over-the-top rocker. Dolly turns it into a melancholy but hard-driving folk jam. It’s brilliant.
Zach Bryan, “I Remember Everything” with Kacey Musgraves (from the album Zach Bryan, out now)
If this tune doesn’t floor you on the first listen, we’ll need to check to make sure you have a heart. Bryan’s nearly tearful delivery pairs so well with Musgraves’ ethereal vibes.
Vince Gill and Paul Franklin, “Sweet Memories” (from the album Sweet Memories, out now)
Find our interview with the Nashville luminaries here — they spoke to us about the inspired cover versions of Ray Price hits on their latest collaborative record.
Wade Bowen, “Cowboy Kid” (single out now)
The red dirt country star has a winner with his seemingly biographical tune about growing up without being fenced in. It makes you want to run free just as he does in the lyrics.
Check out the official C&I-Approved Spotify country music playlist.
This article appears in our January 2024 issue.