Small towns can still have room for big personalities, and two of them come together today on “What Happens in a Small Town,” a wistful new country power ballad that pairs Brantley Gilbert with Lindsay Ell.
Gilbert, who has stayed true to his own small-town roots in Georgia even as he’s become a popular country performer, co-wrote “What Happens in a Small Town” with Brock Berryhill, Josh Dunne, and Rhett Atkins. More than a reflection on how quickly word gets around in a close-knit community, the song dwells on the inescapable memories that come with a broken heart, the pain of which are brought to life by Gilbert’s forlorn delivery. Ell, however, balances things out not only with her soaring vocal but with her pyrotechnic guitar work, ringing the cloudy skies with a few rays of light.
While Ell released The Continuum Project, a track-by-track remake of John Mayer’s Continuum, last May, “What Happens in a Small Town” marks the first new original material from either artist since 2017. Both are currently between tours, but Ell is set to hit the road next month starting with a stop in Dallas, Texas, on January 9th.