It’s time for another installment of the NCR Friday Five, and I clearly have a thing for country’s talented duos and solo artists this week.

1. “Trouble Is As Trouble Does” by Striking Matches
This song is as spunky as the band’s energy. Recorded earlier this year at 1 Mic 1 Take session with Capitol Records, “Trouble Is As Trouble Does” tells us the story of two star-crossed lovers’ attraction despite the warnings of others. The progressive country duo’s twang stays true to their Nashville hearts.

Striking Matches
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2. “Nashville Grey Skies” by The Shires
The Shires bring us along on their journey back home to Nashville with their song “Nashville Grey Skies.” The band, with their acoustics and resounding vocals, reminds country fans that there’s just no place like home.

The Shires
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3. “Bury Me in Blue Jeans” by Granger Smith
Granger Smith brings out the country boy in all of us with this ode to some good ol’ fishing, pickup trucks, and Levi’s. Smith fans anticipate new music after he announced his contract with Broken Bow Records earlier this year.

Granger Smith
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4. “Never Mine” by Rainey Qualley
Climbing the country music charts, female artist Rainey Qualley recently signed with Cingle Records to release her first full-length album. This love-longing ballad from her first self-written EP hits any listener right in the feels.

Rainey Qualley
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5. “Used to Love You Sober” by Kane Brown
I’ll admit, the first time I heard Kane Brown’s voice, I was taken aback. Brown’s punk, bad-boy look — that makes you either drool or roll your eyes — may have clouded my judgment. Those notions dissipated after listening to his single, “Used to Love You Sober.” The independent artist’s softer side shines through with his newest EP, Closer.

Kane Brown
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Photo by Chuck Marshall