Brantley Gilbert oftentimes comes off like a tough guy in his music, but he's opening up on his new duet with Lindsay Ell. "What Happens in a Small Town" reveals a new layer of emotion to Gilbert's music.

The powerful mid-tempo ballad opens with Gilbert reflecting on a love that he's lost, lamenting, "I can't go for a ride to clear my head / 'Cause everything I pass puts you back in it." It's a hauntingly poetic turn of phrase that paints a portrait of two lovers who are no longer together, but find due to their proximity that they can never be completely apart, either.

"'Cause what happens in a small town stays in a small town / Every back road we've ever gone down / Friday night bleachers, Sunday pews / Ain't a county line mile without a memory of you / Every whisper, every room I walk in / Every time the bartender fills it up again / Everybody knows why I'm here and you ain't around / 'Cause what happens in a small town stays in a small town," they sing together in the chorus.

Gilbert previously admitted to Taste of Country that the premise for the song was inspired by his on-again, off-again past relationship with his now-wife, Amber.

"That’s one of the great things about being in a relationship with a goodbye in it," he says, adding with a laugh, "It's easy to write those breakup songs when you know how it ends."

Ell not only sings on the song, she also contributed her considerable guitar prowess, making for a powerful track that is a massive step forward toward the commercial mainstream for both artists. Listen by clicking on the song above.

Did You Know? Gilbert first became a fan of Ell's after taking his now-wife and her younger brother to the Grand Ole Opry, where she happened to perform that night.

Brantley Gilbert and Lindsay Ell, "What Happens in a Small Town" Lyrics:

I can't go for a ride to clear my head / 'Cause everything I pass puts you back in it / Yeah we're done /Moving on / But you can't be too far gone

CHORUS:

'Cause what happens in a small town stays in a small town / Every back road we've ever gone down / Friday night bleachers, Sunday pews / Ain't a county line mile without a memory of you / Every whisper, every room I walk in / Every time the bartender fills it up again / Everybody knows why I'm here and you ain't around / 'Cause what happens in a small town stays in a small town

Oh, we said this goodbye as the last / I guess I could leave, I could run from the past / And from us, and from you / But this is where I belong, this is my home too

REPEAT CHORUS

I'm still here

And every time I see that little white Jeep / Yeah, that hand me down Ford pulling down your street / I wonder if somebody's in my seat / If you're moving on or you're stuck like me

REPEAT CHORUS

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