Three-time Grammy winner Trisha Yearwood released her 12th album, Heaven, Heartache and the Power of Love, last November.
DOWNLOAD: “They Call It Falling for a Reason,” an energetic tune about the ups and downs of chasing love.
HER INSPIRATION: The singer, 43, didn’t write the song, but she’s lived its lyrics. “I haven’t always been stupidly happy,” says Yearwood, who’s been married to Garth Brooks for 2½ years. “I’ve had that feeling of falling in love, getting my heart broken and breaking someone else’s heart. It’s easy to put yourself in that place.”
THE LOST TRAILERS
Lead vocalist Ryder Lee and lead guitarist and songwriter Stokes Nielson met in a church band as teenagers. Years later they joined forces with guitarist Manny Medina, keyboard player Andrew Nielson and drummer Jeff Potter. The group’s fifth album, Holler Back, hits stores Aug. 26.
DOWNLOAD: “Holler Back,” an uptempo, get-up-and-dance song that celebrates a small town’s equivalent of the urban nightclub scene, complete with lyrics like “all the cowgirls shaking their sassafras.”
THEIR INSPIRATION: “I just wanted to get back to the simplicity of those Friday nights growing up, where it’s just my buddies and some cowgirls, and we all went out to the pecan orchards and just had a party,” says Nielson, 32, who is a native of rural Georgia. “The song is a celebration of getting back to country life.”
The former lead singer of Alabama has a debut solo album, One on One, out Nov. 11.
Download: “Like I Never Broke Her Heart,” a rueful song about a guy whose ex has moved on.
His Inspiration: Owen, 58, was drawn to “the great story,” he says. ” ‘She loves you like I never broke her heart’: I’d never heard anyone say it that way.”
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After releasing three albums with Trick Pony, Newfield left the band in 2006 to pursue a solo career.
DOWNLOAD: “What Am I Waiting For?” an uplifting, go-get-’em tune about following your dreams.
HER INSPIRATION: Newfield, 37, wrote the song with her Trick Pony bandmates Keith Burns and Ira Dean. “We were all not having as much fun in the band,” she says, but notes that the song is not mean-spirited: “It’s really sort of an ode to them. This is a happy song.”
Sisters Becky, Emily and Joanna Robertson have musical roots; their folks (Mom’s a singer; Dad’s a keyboardist) toured with Waylon Jennings.
Download: “Different Breed,” an anthem about a woman living off the beaten path.
Inspiration: “We’re not perfect girls,” says Emily, 23. “We don’t have perfect hair, our toenails aren’t always painted. A lot of women can relate to that.”
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The Greenville, Miss., native describes the soulful sound on his third album, Indianola, as a “return home” to his Delta roots.
DOWNLOAD: “You’re My Life,” a ballad dedicated to a longtime love.
HIS INSPIRATION: After finally being able to get back to his family following a monthlong gig on the road, “I just started thinking about my wife and three kids and was moved by how happy I was to be home,” says Azar, 44. “As sappy as it sounds, I started writing these verses.”
The only child of famed country artists Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter—he spent his toddlerhood in a crib on his parents’ tour bus—Jennings spent several years fronting southern rock band Stargunn before going solo. The new dad to 8-month-old daughter Alabama with actress Drea de Matteo released his latest album, The Wolf, last fall.
DOWNLOAD: “Blood from a Stone,” an angsty ballad about moving on from a destructive relationship.
HIS INSPIRATION: The song is based on “a friendship of mine,” says Jennings, 29, who wrote the lyrics after a falling-out. When it comes to negative people, “you realize that you’ve got to cut them out of your life or they’re going to drag you down,” he says.
ZAC BROWN BAND
Zac Brown played in bars for years before assembling his band, which includes bassist John Hopkins, fiddler Jimmy De Martini, guitarist Coy Bowles and drummer Chris Fryar.
DOWNLOAD: “Chicken Fried,” a song celebrating those simple pleasures of American life like cold beer, jeans that “fit just right”—and, of course, fried chicken.
THEIR INSPIRATION: Brown, 30, says the band “wrote a list of all the things we love. No matter what your background or religion or social class, the things that are in that song are on a human level.”
After playing Nashville bars and writing songs like “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” and “Give It Away,” Alabama native Johnson just released his second album, That Lonesome Song.
DOWNLOAD: The autobiographical “Between Jennings and Jones.”
HIS INSPIRATION: “I just went out to tell part of my story—about why I moved to Nashville,” says Johnson, 33, who got the song’s hook from a friend who pointed out that Johnson’s first album was on the CD racks between Waylon Jennings and George Jones.
The former Miss California left the West Coast for Nashville’s country flavor. Besides writing songs for the likes of the Wreckers, she’s put out her second album, Thankful.
Download: “Kick the Jukebox,” a lament about boring pop music.
Her Inspiration: On a drive between Orange County and Los Angeles, “I was stuck in traffic, flipping between stations, and couldn’t find anything inspiring,” says Hanson, 34. “The song came from that.”
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