What We’re Listening To: August Picks

NYCountry Swag’s “What We’re Listening To” playlist highlights the wide range of our team’s favorite songs and artists when it comes to the country music genre.  At the end of the day, we are all fans first with a passion for country music and are eager to share with you all what we’ve got on repeat each month.

Find below each of our team member’s favorite songs and why in our August picks. Then be sure to give our Spotify account a follow and listen to our favorite tracks!

 

AUGUST PICKS:

 

 

Stephanie Wagner, Founder

Pick: “Just About Over You” – Priscilla Block
Songwriters: Emily Kroll, Priscilla Block, Sarah Jones

This month I chose country newcomer Priscilla Block’s “Just About Over You”. When I first heard the a cappella version she posted on Instagram before the official release, I was immediately drawn to the honest and raw lyrics. 

“Why’d you have to come back in right then // Right when I was just getting good and gone? //
‘Cause I was in the wrong place at the wrong time // You must’ve heard I was moving on”

I think most people can connect with that moment when you think you’re just about over someone and then you run into them or something reminds you of them and it opens a floodgate of all of those emotions that you thought you had moved on from. Block’s ability to not only pinpoint those relatable feelings in her songwriting but to flawlessly deliver the track in such a vocally pleasing way makes her for sure an artist to watch. 

 

Christina Bosch, Managing Editor 

Pick: “Forged In the Fire” – Caylee Hammack
Songwriters: Andy Skib, Caylee Hammack, Thomas Finchum

Although Caylee Hammack revealed that this track was written after her home burned down in an actual fire, the lyrics ring true for this absolutely transformational year and era that we are living in. “Forged in the Fire” is sonically pleasing, it builds through the song, similar to the way a person who has been beaten down, picks up what is left of their life and moves on. The chorus questions how much can the human spirit take and when is there a light at the end of something so traumatizing.

“When does a phoenix learn how to fly? / Do I get my wings when I stop asking why? / How do I start moving on, moving past, stop holding on, looking back / When God’s hell-bent on making me a fighter, forged in the fire”

Facing hardships these past 6 months has made me really question God on when things will start looking up but music will always be there, the ability to hear a song, and have it change my entire outlook on something remains true through a pandemic or not.

 

Lucie Bernheim, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Chasin’ Me” – Caroline Jones
Songwriters: Caroline Jones

Since last summer, I have been obsessed with the breezy, effortless “Chasin’ Me” by Caroline Jones. It’s rare that an artist is as involved in their projects as Jones is; she writes, arranges, and produces each track. The layers of dreamy harmonies are ethereal and her electric guitar work is stunning. It is the perfect summer song! Feeling reminiscent of a time pre-pandemic, I’ve been listening to this song on repeat. Everything about “Chasin’ Me” is atmospheric.

 

Dylan Bestler, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Happy Does” – Kenny Chesney
Songwriters: Brad Clawson, Brock Berryhill, Greylan James, Jamie Paulin

“Happy Does” is definitely my favorite song off his most recent record, Here and Now. Happiness may be hard to find for some, especially in times like these, but Chesney has a simple solution: do things that make you happy. People aren’t born happy or sad, they are what they do. By listening to upbeat music, mixing your favorite drink, surrounding yourself with the people you love, and staying away from the media allows us to look at life in a positive light. Our mental health is extremely important in these trying times and we have to fill our days with joy, instead of more bad news.

“Drink a beer just because / Steal a slow dance in a rainstorm / And a kiss from who you love / Laugh and live with a half full cup / Yeah, happy is as happy does”

 

Kristina Callahan, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Bad Mother Trucker” – Eric Church
Songwriters: Eric Church, Casey Beathard, Luke Dick, and Jeremy Spillman

Anytime there’s new Eric Church music, the ante is automatically raised. Even though “Bad Mother Trucker” isn’t a particularly deep song, I do believe it has a greater meaning: women are just as capable as men at getting the job done. Church’s voice screams rock ‘n roll in this song and even has an incredible guitar solo in the middle. Joanna Cotten’s background vocals are the perfect counterpart to the gritty lyrics and beat.

She drove an ’81 Peterbilt 18-wheeler // Jet black with pink mud flaps // It was a mean piece of metal with lightning in the pedal // Thunder comin’ out the back // And them boys would chuckle when they saw her buckle // Herself in the captain’s seat // But nobody was laughin’ when she’d go to passin’ // Smilin’ at them real sweet

I can’t remember a Church song I didn’t like. His songwriting ability is unparalleled and I can’t wait to see what he has in store for the rest of 2020.

 

Jeremy Chua, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Feels Like Home” – Tyler Rich
Songwriters: Tyler Rich, Andrew DeRoberts, Jon Nite

I usually have really poignant and sad cuts picked out for this monthly feature. But, I think the world’s already as “sad” as it can be, ha. So, what better song to blast and put on repeat than Tyler Rich’s “Feels Like Home”? It’s just an overall feel-good anthem about toasting to the simplicity of a good get-together. “I came here tonight to forget why I’m here / If you’re with me then why don’t you raise up your beer / Dance with a stranger that you’d like to know / ‘Cause it feels like home,” Rich sings in the chorus. The uplifting track reminds listeners (and me!) to celebrate the here and now, and not let go of the joy of being in our “home.” Turn this one up loud for the rest of summer, and enjoy the good times with family and friends!

 

Erin Crosby, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Any Man Of Mine” – Shania Twain
Songwriters: Robert John “Mutt” Lange, Shania Twain

The 1995 hit “Any Man of Mine” has found a home inside my brain over the last few weeks. It’s a song that practically demands to be on full volume with unofficial vocal accompaniment during car rides, bedroom jam sessions and girls nights. I, without fail, sing it loud and proud in hopes that the maxed out volume will drown me out and, instead, focus on Shania Twain’s unmistakable tone.

Lyrically, “Any Man of Mine” is genius. Robert John “Mutt” Lange and the world-renowned artist herself wrote this song that has become a reminder for women that they’re worth so much more than what they might have been given thus far. It’s a reminder to not settle for any undeserving or impassive man.

 

Alexa Ebner, Contributing Writer

Pick: “The Stranger” (Reimagined) – Ingrid Andress
Songwriters: Ingrid Andress, Ryan Lafferty

“The Stranger” by Ingrid Andress, a song that was included in her debut album “Lady Like” earlier this year, is a gorgeous song. Luckily for us fans, the singer recently released a stripped-down, piano version – which takes the song to an entirely new level. This new version is very intimate, and almost solely features a piano and Andress’ captivating, magical voice. Andress has revealed to fans that this special song was inspired by her own parent’s love story, and you can feel the raw emotion radiate through her voice as she sings. This song showcases the story of two lovers who wish to forget all of the hardships their relationship has endured, and go back to a place where it can be pure again. The colorful imagery and wistful nostalgia beautifully convey the message restoring love and reconnecting. Be sure to check out this new rendition of “The Stranger”.

 

Julia Grubbs, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Gaslighter” – The Chicks
Songwriters: Emily Strayer, Jack Antonoff, Martie Maguire, Natalie Maines

I grew up with the album Fly as an adolescent wannabe performer dancing in my childhood room to the powerful female anthems and catchy tunes of these gals. It wasn’t until my roommate was playing “Gaslighter” that I remembered the strength with which their songs were a part of my memory. And they did not disappoint this time around. The a cappella harmonies at the beginning draw you right in, followed by the smooth verse and captivating chorus. They never fail to tell a tale and poetically wrap up the experiences of an individual. Now that they’re back, I can’t wait to see what’s next.

 

Pick: “Beers and Sunshine” – Darius Rucker
Songwriters: Darius Rucker, J.T Harding, Josh Osborne, Ross Copperman

My August pick is “Beers and Sunshine” by Darius Rucker. This summer has been far from ideal especially with no concerts. This song is the perfect reminder to forget about all the craziness. When I listen to it I instantly take a breath and think about all the good things to happen especially quality time spent with loved ones. It also isn’t bad to listen to with your favorite drink of choice.

 

Erica Zisman, Contributing Writer

Pick: “GIVE HEAVEN SOME HELL” – HARDY
Songwriters: Ashley Gorley, Ben Johnson, Hunter Phelps, Michael Hardy

I truly believe HARDY can do no wrong! Everything he touches turns to gold in my mind. I have truly loved or grown to love every release he has had so far and every song he has written or co-written. My song pick this month, “GIVE HEAVEN SOME HELL” is just another example of how incredibly talented HARDY is.

The song is everything I want in a country song. The lyrics are catchy, yet meaningful, and the song just hooks you in. I am in awe of HARDY’s masterful way of weaving together sentiments, and I could not be more excited for his next record. I already know it’s going to one of my favorites of the year. If you haven’t jumped aboard the HARDY train, do so, and fast!

 

Listen to our picks on our “What We’re Listening To” playlist on Spotify and be sure to give it a follow, so you can catch our monthly updates.

 

—————

SHOP THE HERO COLLECTION

The Hero Collection by NYCountry Swag is inspired by the men and women of the Fire, Police and Military Departments across the country. A portion of sales from each purchase is donated to different foundations that support our heroes. We are dedicated to honoring their service and remembering their sacrifice.

—————————-

Thank You for supporting Country Music in NYC & Beyond!

Subscribe to our Weekly Round-Up here
for ticket giveaways, meet & greet contests, upcoming events,
and all things country music in the New York metro area and beyond!

+ Follow our country music adventures on InstagramTwitter & Facebook:

What We’re Listening To: July Picks

NYCountry Swag’s “What We’re Listening To” playlist highlights the wide range of our team’s favorite songs and artists when it comes to the country music genre.  At the end of the day, we are all fans first with a passion for country music and are eager to share with you all what we’ve got on repeat each month.

Find below each of our team member’s favorite songs and why in our July picks. Then be sure to give our Spotify account a follow and listen to our favorite tracks!

 

JULY PICKS:

 

 

Stephanie Wagner, Founder

Pick: “Good Times Roll” – Jimmie Allen feat. Nelly
Songwriters: Cornell Haynes Jr. (Nelly), Jimmie Allen, Zach Kale

This month I chose Jimmie Allen’s “Good Times Roll” featuring Nelly. The infectious song only came out a few days ago, but I have been impatiently waiting for it since back in December when Allen first teased it during his opening set on the CMT on Tour with Michael Ray in New York City.

The track has the nostalgia of old school Nelly classics like “Country Grammar”, but blends Allen’s familiar and unique vocals of today’s country music. The kind of song you just want to blast with the windows down, the two paired up have created the perfect upbeat, summer anthem that 2020 really needed right now.

 

Christina Bosch, Managing Editor 

Pick: “Sunday Drive” – Brett Eldredge
Songwriters: Barry Dean, Don Mescall, Steve Robson

Through first listen I fell in love with Brett Eldredge’s album this weekend but it wasn’t until Sunday afternoon driving in the car with my husband and my son in the back looking out the window that this particular title track struck a chord. The lyrics encourage the listener to focus on the small, seemingly insignificant moments for they become the most memorable in the long run.

“And we were only young but they were trying hard to reach us / How was I to know that there was something so worth keeping?”

The simple piano instrumentation with Eldredge’s smooth and clear vocals tell the story of growing up watching your parents and then as time goes by, you take your parents out on a Sunday drive, giving them the chance to reminisce about the good old days. This entire album is a masterpiece, Eldredge mixes his Sinatra big band vibes with country storytelling and it is definitely some of his best work.

 

Lucie Bernheim, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Haven’t Even Kissed Me Yet” – Aubrie Sellers
Songwriters: Aubrie Sellers

If I had to pick my favorite sub-genre of country music, it would probably be the dreamy, more indie-folk side of it. Aubrie Sellers’ latest LP, Far From Home is a captivating piece of work front to back, but it’s the solo-penned “Haven’t Even Kissed Me Yet”  that’s my favorite. Lyrically, it’s so introspective and confessional, and it’s as if Sellers is letting you into her inner dialogue. “Cause I’ve been thinkin’ of you all day long/Wonderin’ how long it will be before you’re gone/You’re already playin’ games with my head/And you haven’t even kissed me yet.” No reverb is spared in the song, and the vocals float along with the grungy, garage electric guitar, and the fuzzy kick drum that surprises you at the end. It’s truly a stunning song, perfect for a summertime drive at night.

 

Dylan Bestler, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Come As You Are” – Tenille Townes
Songwriters: Daniel Tashian, Tenille Townes, Marc Beeson

This is such a fun song and it really stood out to me when listening to her new album. The record can be very emotional at times and definitely provokes a lot of thought with songs like “Jersey on the Wall,” and at first, I thought this song was just put on there to break up all the emotions. Upon further listens, it does that and so much more. This song is all about self-acceptance and promotes the message of ‘everyone is dealing with similar problems, so stop overthinking, let loose, enjoy yourself, and live in the moment.’ In these trying times, we all need to be reminded of this. This song is just full of good vibes.

I love Tenille Townes and was blown away by The Lemonade Stand. It takes story-telling and adds a whole new layer to it. Excluding Sam Hunt’s Southside, this my favorite album of 2020 so far. This may be a bold statement, but this might be my favorite album by a female country artist ever.

 

Kristina Callahan, Contributing Writer

Pick: “In My Veins” – Lauren Alaina
Songwriters: Jesse Frasure, Hillary Lindsey, Lauren Alaina, Cary Barlowe

This song by Lauren Alaina has been out for a while but I feel like it’s such a great summer jam. A lot of people went back to their hometowns to quarantine during the Covid-19 pandemic and this song talks about your roots and never forgetting where you grew up because those memories and experiences made you who you are today.

“But you don’t leave with roots that deep // No matter where you’re at It’s in my blood, it’s in my veins // The way I talk and the way I pray // If I close my eyes, I’m there right now // You can take the girl out of the country // But the country stays running in my veins // Running in my veins”

You can hear Alaina’s southern twang on this track. The Georgia native’s lyrics are relatable and something most of us have experienced.

 

Erin Crosby, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Then You Do” – Brett Eldredge
Songwriters: Brett Eldredge

Brett Eldredge’s new album is full of sentimental, lyrically-beautiful tracks. It’s definitely one of his most honest and creative productions. Though, “Then You Do” seemed to be the one that instilled the most significant reaction out of me, the first time I truly listened. It was one of those moments that demand attention, leaving you blind and unaware of anything except the lyrics spewing out of the speaker, and the music that paints the background. “Then You Do,” tells a story of a relationship from the moment of meeting, and continues to narrate how it evolves and develops. And, eventually, how it ends. A song rarely covers so much ground in one song, at least not so naturally, but Eldredge and Scooter Carusoe did exactly that. And they did it well.

 

Julia Grubbs, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Waste of Lime” – Ingrid Andress
Songwriters: Shane McAnally, Derrick Southerland, Ingrid Andress, John Phillips, Michael Edward Love, Sam Ellis, Scott McKenzie, Terence Melcher

Ever since I saw/heard “More Hearts Than Mine” on NYCS Instagram story, I was obsessed with Ingrid Andress. An exquisite lyricist, with songs that hit the heart of single 20-somethings, but really touch those of all ages, Andress lightens it a little with this beachy tune, “Waste of Lime”. With a taste of the Beach Boys’ “Kokomo” sound, you think you’re on the beach, but then she proceeds to tell the tale of another wasted drink on another unworthy mate. Her tone points to a little heartache, but really the overall mood of moving on to the next one, trying to match the carefree mindset of island time. She’s no longer wasting time on the wrong people, but she’s still considering it a waste of a lime.

 

Pick: “Why We Drink” – Justin Moore
Songwriters: Casey Beathard, David Lee Murphy, Jeremy Stover, Justin Moore

My pick is “Why We Drink” by Justin Moore. I chose this song because it’s a fun song that was needed during this quarantine summer. It’s the perfect song to put on after a long day of working from home, on a Friday night or for Sunday Funday. Cheers!

 

Erica Zisman, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Think About You” – Alana Springsteen ft. Filmore
Songwriters: Alana Springsteen, Chris Gelbuda, Jeremy Lister

I got the chance to interview talented songstress, Alana Springsteen for our Swag Spotlight feature. I already knew how extremely talented she was, but I didn’t know how humble and passionate she was for music until our conversation. In preparation for our interview, I listened to all her released music and ultimately fell in love with one above the rest. My pick this week is “Think About You” by Springsteen featuring one of my favorite rising artists, Filmore.

I am a sucker for a good duet because of that push-pull dynamic that duets often offer. This particular song is both vocally pleasing and lyrically expressive- two things I love in country music. The combination of Springsteen and Filmore is the vocal duo I never knew I needed!

Listen to our picks on our “What We’re Listening To” playlist on Spotify and be sure to give it a follow, so you can catch our monthly updates.

—————

SHOP THE HERO COLLECTION

The Hero Collection by NYCountry Swag is inspired by the men and women of the Fire, Police and Military Departments across the country. A portion of sales from each purchase is donated to different foundations that support our heroes. We are dedicated to honoring their service and remembering their sacrifice.

—————————-

Thank You for supporting Country Music in NYC & Beyond!

Subscribe to our Weekly Round-Up here
for ticket giveaways, meet & greet contests, upcoming events,
and all things country music in the New York metro area and beyond!

+ Follow our country music adventures on InstagramTwitter & Facebook:

What We’re Listening To: June Picks

NYCountry Swag’s “What We’re Listening To” playlist highlights the wide range of our team’s favorite songs and artists when it comes to the country music genre.  At the end of the day, we are all fans first with a passion for country music and are eager to share with you all what we’ve got on repeat each month.

Find below each of our team member’s favorite songs and why in our June picks. Then be sure to give our Spotify account a follow and listen to our favorite tracks!

 

JUNE PICKS:

 

 

Stephanie Wagner, Founder

Pick: “Would Have Loved Her” – Chris Bandi
Songwriters: Chris Bandi, Zach Kale

This month I chose Chris Bandi’s “Would Have Loved Her” off his recently released debut EP. When I say I’m listening to this song on repeat, I mean literally I’ve got it looped all day long. I fell in love with the concept of the song even before hearing it and once it was officially released I was immediately hooked. Much like the song I chose last month, this is another piano-led ballad, but the heartfelt tearjerking lyrics are truly what drew me in. The song starts with the singer speaking to his late father, talking about meeting a girl he wishes his Dad could have met and he knows he would have loved her.

“She’s from a small town just like you // She’s got a smile that could light up the room // She’s pretty as a hallelujah // But don’t let it fool ya / ‘Cause she’ll dance when she drinks // And she’ll say what she thinks // She makes me a better man like you did // I miss you and wish you could just meet each other // ‘Cause I bet you would’ve loved her”

As the song progresses, each line moves through the phases of falling in love, getting married, and having a baby of his own, circling back to the idea that the late father would love her. From start to finish it’s an all-around beautiful song that truly deserves to be heard.

 

Christina Bosch, Managing Editor 

Pick: “Never Will” – Ashley McBryde
Songwriters: Ashley McBryde, Blue Foley, Chris Harris, Christian Sancho, Matt Helmkamp, Victor Hill

One of the most authentic creators in the country genre is Ashley McBryde. Her powerful voice carries over some of the truest lyrics ever written, and she has a way of recording and releasing music that is so specific to her story and yet, I always find a way to relate.

“Never Will” the title track of her latest full-length project, tells the tale of looking back proudly of never giving up, never giving in to the people who didn’t believe in you. In McBryde’s case, it probably is a reflection of her early years in the music business, in my case, it’s following a determination and a dream.

The lyrics in the bridge are the perfect kick in the ass that the CMA New Artist of the Year winner is known for and inspire dreamers everywhere: “Money and fame, it’ll go to your head if you get it / They never did understand all the reasons we did it / I can call out the names and the faces of the people who said it / Oh, but honestly, I just don’t want ’em to get any credit” 

Her entire sophomore album is a masterpiece, each song tells the truth about life and I constantly listen in awe of her talent.

 

Lucie Bernheim, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Love Me Now” – Josh Kerr
Songwriters: Josh Kerr, Tom Douglas

My friends and I have loved watching movies over Zoom during quarantine, and one of the movies we watched was “Perks of Being a Wallflower”. So much moved me about the movie; besides longing for my time at high school to end as it did in the final scene, it started a conversation amongst my friend group: what would our tunnel song be? The song that we turned up to listen to so freely while driving down the highway, feeling forever young in that moment?
“Love Me Now” by Josh Kerr isn’t that song, although he has plenty of epic songs that could be. “Love Me Now” is the coming of age movie. It’s about high school, graduation, youth, hurting, moving on, and evolving into a better version of yourself. “I admit I’m kind of broken, but I’ll heal,” Kerr sings honestly on the second verse. It’s not the song they play in the beginning or at the end, it’s the song that sits perfectly in the middle. You’ve changed, and you know you have, but there’s still so much life you’ve yet to live and experience. There is something so poignant about the delivery of this song. It’s cinematic and thoughtful, equal parts due to Kerr and Douglas’ writing, Kerr’s flawless production, and the vulnerability in his voice. When I think about finishing high school, I think about how much I have evolved since freshman year. Walking in 14 and leaving 18 is a huge difference, and as Kerr says, “Candles at both ends burning / Baby don’t the world keep turning”.

Dylan Bestler, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Worldwide Beautiful” – Kane Brown
Songwriters: Kane Brown, Jordan Schmidt, Ryan Hurd, Shy Carter

In a time when everyone is fighting each other on all different issues, I find comfort in songs that talk about unity. If we all stop judging individuals based on their skin color, uniform, political view, etc. and come together as a nation, the world would be a better place to live in. This is the message Kane is trying to get across in this song. I know I am so greatly influenced by music and hope this song reaches and impacts those who, like Kane says, have unmovable hearts.

“We ain’t that different from each other / From one to another, I look around and see worldwide beautiful”

 

Kristina Callahan, Contributing Writer

Pick: “We Do” – Kenny Chesney
Songwriters: Kenny Chesney, Craig Wiseman, David Garcia, Scooter Carusoe

Everyone has a summer anthem and after listening to this Kenny Chesney song about 500 times, it’s safe to say this is mine. The first song off his Here and Now album, it’s one of those songs that’ll bring a smile to your face every time you hear it. When I close my eyes, I see myself tailgating at MetLife Stadium before his 2018 concert and it brings back so many great memories.

Yeah, we laugh and we love // And we can’t get enough // As loud as we’re livin’, man / We still turn it up // We’re amplified, come alive // Side by side // No matter where it goes // You know we’re here for the ride// Who gets to roll like we do? // We do // // Yeah, who wants to rock like we do? // We do // Yeah, who ain’t gonna stop, man, no matter what? // And who gets to live like we do? // We do

Everyone is still bummed about the Chillaxifcation tour being postponed until 2021 but this song and this entire album give me hope that next year’s version of the tour will be even better, even if we have to wait another year for it.

 

Jeremy Chua, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Soldier” – Craig Morgan
Songwriters: Gavin DeGraw

This is a track off Craig Morgan’s latest album, God, Family, Country, and a cover of Gavin DeGraw’s original song. Morgan’s rendition kicks an emotional punch, in a good way. It’s an undeniable feel-good anthem with uplifting lyrics like “I’ll get it if you need it / I’ll search if you don’t see it / If you’re thirsty, I’ll be your rain / If you get hurt, I’ll take your pain.” Also, I love that Morgan and producer/writer Phil O’Donnell enlisted a choir of vocalists to do the background vocals. There’s something special when you hear the soulful “oooo’s” and soaring echoes of certain words in the song! If you need a good pick-me-up, especially during this time, take a listen. You’ll have it on repeat after, I’m sure!

 

Alexa Ebner, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Church in a Chevy” – Jordan Davis
Songwriters: Jordan Davis, Josh Jenkins, Matt Jenkins

I cannot stop listening to “Church in a Chevy” by Jordan Davis. This song is featured on his self-titled EP, released in May. From the very first listen, this is the type of song where you feel the deep emotion flood throughout your entire body as each lyric is sung. I love Davis’ music for the refreshing energy, but this mid-tempo ballad shows us a different side to the singer.

He raises the idea one does not have to attend church in order to practice their own personal form of religion. For Davis, the cathartic act of driving in a car is a mode for personal growth and self-discovery. The song is filled with vivid imagery, making one feel very connected to the message. At the close of the chorus, Davis sings, “Amazing grace came flooding through the windshield / felt some broken parts of me start to heal”. Everyone can relate to feeling that healing is personal to everyone, and can happen at any time and in any place.

 

Julia Grubbs, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Hard To Forget” – Sam Hunt
Songwriters: Shane McAnally, Ashley Gorley, Audrey Grisham, Josh Osborne, Luke Laird, Mary Jean Shurtz, Russ Hall, Sam Hunt

I have always been a fan of Sam Hunt, from his very beginning to songs you’ve never heard of. My aunt is friends with his aunt, so I basically feel like I know him, and have heard stories about watching him grow up doing small shows in his hometown. This song does him justice with his constant talk-singing and the unforgettable catchy beats. We were waiting for new music, and this does not disappoint. The opening is such a cool modern twist on an old song banjo vibe, and a bit different from some of his others. It’s another perfect song for the summer to drive with the windows down, or in my case, the top down. Everyone always talks about playing hard to get, but they never mention playing hard to forget. A little more lighthearted than his “Break Up In A Small Town”, but with the same themes, you can jam while maybe feeling a little bitter about a breakup. This will be on my playlist for a while.

 

Molly Holmberg, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Make Em Wanna Change” – Adam Sanders
Songwriters: Adam Craig, Adam Sanders, Dallas Wilson

This month I have been listening to Adam Sanders’ new song “Make Em Wanna Change”. While you may not know him as a singer, yet, you definitely know his songs including Cole Swindell’s “Ain’t Worth The Whiskey” and Dustin Lynch’s “Hell of a Night”. Sanders’ ability to write honest songs is what has kept me inching to hear everything he puts out. In his latest, he explains how some relationships, some people, just have something about them that makes you want to become a better person. With an upbeat tempo, a catchy chorus, and lyrics that you can instantly apply to your life, I see Sanders’ new song doing very well in the coming months.
“Yeah ’cause guys like me just need a girl like you to make ’em wanna change,”

 

Pick: “Break. Up. Drunk” – Chase Rice
Songwriters: Chase Rice, Hunter Phelps, Jordan Schmidt

My June pick is “Break. Up. Drunk.” by Chase Rice. I chose this song because it’s not your typical sad song. Rice took a sad situation and put an upbeat twist on it.  It’s the perfect song to dance to this summer whether you are going through a breakup or not.
Pick: “What Could’ve Been” – Gone West
Songwriters: Colbie Caillat, Danelle Reeves, Jamie Kenney, Jason Reeves, Justin Kawika Young
It’s hard to find a breakup song that feels unique from what’s already out there, especially in country music, but this track does it for me. Between the perfect harmonies, the simple arrangement, and the poignant lyrics, it checks every box. I have always been a Colbie Caillat fan but I think she and her new bandmates fit perfectly in the country genre. The story in the song is so relatable to listeners but told in a way that feels new and different. I’m so excited to follow this group as they continue to release new music!
“‘Cause we left blood the on the tracks / Sweat on the saddle / Fire in the hills / A bullet in the barrel / Words never said in a story that didn’t end / Looks like you’re on the mend and I’m on the bottle / We folded our hands with money on the table / Tried moving on but I keep coming back again, hmm / To what could’ve been”

 

Erica Zisman, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Show Me Around” – Carly Pearce
Songwriters: —

A lot of songs this month have hit me hard in the best possible away. My favorite thing about music is when a song can make me feel something and Carly Pearce’s unreleased “Show Me Around” did just that for me. Although it has not yet been released, Pearce blew me away with her tribute to her late friend and phenomenal producer/songwriter busbee. I cannot fully articulate how much the lyrics touched me.

I hope you know you left your mark on this world / I swear I’d give anything on this earth to see your face, but for now I’ll wait.”

I often think about the “afterlife,” and the only thing I know for certain is I hope my loved ones are the first people I see. Although it can feel like a taboo or morbid subject, “Show Me Around” somehow evokes pain and hope in the most beautiful of ways. I look forward to hopefully adding this song to my music library one day.

 

Listen to our picks on our “What We’re Listening To” playlist on Spotify and be sure to give it a follow, so you can catch our monthly updates.

—————

SHOP THE HERO COLLECTION

The Hero Collection by NYCountry Swag is inspired by the men and women of the Fire, Police and Military Departments across the country. A portion of sales from each purchase is donated to different foundations that support our heroes. We are dedicated to honoring their service and remembering their sacrifice.

—————————-

Thank You for supporting Country Music in NYC & Beyond!

Subscribe to our Weekly Round-Up here
for ticket giveaways, meet & greet contests, upcoming events,
and all things country music in the New York metro area and beyond!

+ Follow our country music adventures on InstagramTwitter & Facebook:

What We’re Listening To: May Picks

NYCountry Swag’s “What We’re Listening To” playlist highlights the wide range of our team’s favorite songs and artists when it comes to the country music genre.  At the end of the day, we are all fans first with a passion for country music and are eager to share with you all what we’ve got on repeat each month.

Find below each of our team member’s favorite songs and why in our May picks. Then be sure to give our Spotify account a follow and listen to our favorite tracks!

 

MAY PICKS:

 

 

Stephanie Wagner, Founder

Pick: “Think About You” – Alana Springsteen feat. Filmore
Songwriters: Alana Springsteen, Chris Gelbuda, Jeremy Lister

This month I chose Alana Springsteen and Filmore’s “Think About You”. The piano ballad gives off a pop-friendly vibe, but at its core, the lyrics speak country music. Describing two old flames and the tension that comes along with running into each other unexpectedly, the emotional song focuses on the ins and outs of mutual unspoken love.

“You walked in tonight and I watched the whole room fade around you / 
Oh I’m not alright I just act like I am because I have to”

Newcomer, Alana Springsteen flawlessly delivers the track while Filmore showcases his soft-spoken vocals in comparison to his generally more upbeat music that we are used to hearing from him. The two paired together make for a great duet in this beautiful song.

 

Christina Bosch, Managing Editor 

Pick: “Payin’ Hard” – Kip Moore
Songwriters: Blair Daly, Dave Nassie, Kip Moore, Westin Davis

From the first notes of the final song on Kip Moore’s masterpiece album, Wild World, I was hooked. “Payin’ Hard” clocks in under 3 minutes long but in that short time, you can feel true emotion as the regret-soaked ballad tells the story of sacrifices made to follow a dream.

“At the expense of my heart Lord, I’ve cashed in my soul / Chose this old guitar before the only love I’ve known / I gotta live with that, lose sleep with that when I close my eyes I’ll die with that yeah / My life’s a credit card, play now, pay later and I’m paying hard”.

For anyone who is pursuing an unconventional career whether it be music or not, “Payin’ Hard” is a quiet anthem, reflective on the choices you have made and what they have meant for your life.

 

Lucie Bernheim, Contributing Writer

Pick: “The Days” – Hailey Whitters
Songwriters: Ben West, Hailey Whitters, Hillary Lindsey

Hailey Whitters has been a longtime favorite of mine, and her sophomore record, The Dream, is one of my most-listened-to albums this year. I’m a senior in High School, and I would have graduated next month. “The Days” is like my personal mantra right now. For everyone, including me, this time at home has been a rollercoaster of feelings. When you’re young, you’re told that these are “the days” to look back on. You hear it in the movies and on the radio, and there’s even a magazine called Seventeen. When I turned eighteen in April, my perspective changed. I realized that these moments I had been waiting for look different, but I can still make the most of them. There are plenty of things I can still celebrate because time won’t slow, and the world is still spinning. In the words of Whitters, “instead of counting up the days, I just want to make them count.”

 

Dylan Bestler, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Detours” – Jordan Davis
Songwriters: Dave Turnbull, Jacob Davis, Jordan Davis

I feel like I didn’t know anything about Jordan Davis before this song, but after hearing it I now know about his whole life, which says a lot about how deep and beautiful this song is. He tells the story of what it was like growing up as a wild child with divorced parents to becoming the loving husband and father he is today. He thanks the good Lord for helping him find his direction and turning his life around.

I think this song is a big turning point for Davis in his career. His first few singles were fun and very radio-friendly, but it takes a lot of heart to release a song as vulnerable as this one and it really shows how much he has matured as an artist. I’ve been singing these lines in my head since the song was released:

“Yeah, I lost my way / Damn near lost my mind / Pedal to the metal, let the devil leave me blind / I was way outside the lines”

 

Kristina Callahan, Contributing Writer

Pick: “A Little Lime” – Jordan Davis
Songwriters: Jacob Davis, Jordan Davis, Josh Kerr

Jordan Davis delivers another jam with “A Little Lime” off his new EP. The upbeat, feel-good tempo makes me want to drive around with my windows down blasting.

“Oh, the next song’s kinda slow // I could pull you in close // Spin you around then wash it down with another round of // A little lime and a lot of tequila”

It’s the perfect summer song that describes meeting someone at a bar and immediately hitting it off. The Louisiana native teamed up with his brother, Jacob Davis and hit songwriter Josh Kerr for the song. I dare anyone to listen to this song and not want to scream it at the top of their lungs.

 

Erin Crosby, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Hey World” – Lee Brice
Songwriters: Adam Wood, Dallas Davidson, Lee Brice

“Hey World” is not only the type of song that I would regularly have on repeat for weeks. It’s not only a strong, stripped-down production of honest lyrics with a soft instrumental. It’s all of these things mixed with a worldwide understanding and mutual prayer that the world unplug from the rest of us. The coronavirus pandemic allows these lyrics to hold value with more depth which creates the song to strive solely based on relatability.

It’s pretty rare for a ballad to gain so much attention, but I am all for it when they do. In fact, Brice was practically forced to release this track after posting a clip of it on social media, and we’re glad he did. Besides, the world needs to hear this right now. It’s the official unofficial sponsor for when the quarantine becomes unbearable or when “normal life” seems unbearably far away. Despite the sorrowful words and slow melody, the song has a way of making one feel connected to the rest of the world. Brice is asking the world to leave us alone, but the world answers back with a sense of hope that bonds each of us together.

 

Alexa Ebner, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Slow Down Summer” – Thomas Rhett
Songwriters: – – 

Thomas Rhett has been giving the country music community many treats throughout this quarantine period – by sharing new, acoustic songs that he’s written. “Slow Down Summer” has been one of my favorites, with the soothing melody and heartfelt lyrics. Rhett sings nostalgically about a summer love that must come to an end when the season changes. The song is relatable to all, detailing the feeling of wanting something beautiful to last. The singer beautifully picks his guitar while his voice gently sings this mid-tempo ballad. He uses vivid imagery throughout the song, singing “tangled up with your lips on mine / I’ve never seen a brighter green in those eyes”. The listener is transported to the times in their lives when they’ve experienced something they cherish slip away. To listen, visit @thomasrhettakins on Instagram and head to his IGTV. I really hope that he releases these songs soon!

 

Julia Grubbs, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Here” – Mitchell Tenpenny
Songwriters: Jordan Schmidt, Marc Beeson, Mitchell Tenpenny

I think the most important thing I’ve learned over the last two months is to live in the moment because that is really all we have. The future is full of uncertainty, and nothing more than this minute is promised. Mitchell Tenpenny ultimately captures this idea in “Here”, which has been a regular on my playlist throughout May. He says we only have so many years, so I want to “go too far…play too hard…live it up”; basically just do everything we can to feel all of life’s emotions, good and bad, because that’s what makes life worth living. Why hold back? Why not say what you mean? Need a drive to release some stress? Turn on this song and sing it loud, enjoying the beauty and the heart of country music and the relief and community it brings to its fans.

 

Nicole Piering, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Champagne Night – Lady Antebellum
Songwriters: Andrew DeRoberts, Charles Kelley, Dave Haywood, Dave Thomson, Ester Dean, Hillary Scott, Madeline Merlo, Patricia Conroy, Ryan Tedder, Shane McAnally, Tina Gezma

A song I can’t get enough of lately is “Champagne Night” by Lady Antebellum. While the song actually came from a songwriter on NBC’s hit show, Songland, it wouldn’t have sounded out of place on the group’s latest album, Ocean. The song celebrates not needing anything fancy to have a real good time, and the chorus reminds us that it’s not about what you’re drinking, but with who.
“Raisin’ plastic cups to a life of luxury/ C’est la vie on a Friday / We get dressed up in a blue jean tux/ And we go where we don’t hear the highway / Don’t need doubles and bubbles/ To get in all kinds of trouble/ Out in the country/ Don’t need a crystal chandelier/ To have a real good time / We’re drinkin’ beer on a champagne night”
“Champagne Night” is a fun, summer-ready anthem, and while most of us are still stuck inside, it’s nice to hear songs that remind us of normalcy and that better days are ahead.

Pick: “Single Saturday Night” – Cole Swindell
Songwriters: Ashley Gorley, Michael Hardy, Mark Holman

No surprise that my pick is “Single Saturday Night” by Cole Swindell. New music during this time has been something getting me through since we can’t enjoy live music and Swindell’s new song is no exception. It’s the perfect song to kick off the summer season with of course a White Claw in hand.
Pick: “Second Guessing” – Florida Georgia Line
Songwriters: Shane McAnally, Andrew DeRoberts, Benjamin Simonetti, Brian Kelley, Corey Crowder, Ester Dean, Geoff Warburton, Griffin Palmer, Ryan Tedder, Tyler Hubbard 

I’ve been a huge fan of the NBC series “Songland” since it premiered, but the episodes featuring country artists are obviously my favorite. I was excited to watch Florida Georgia Line on the show, but I didn’t expect to be so obsessed with the song they chose to record. This ballad has a smooth and sincere melody and one of my best hooks I’ve heard in a long time. With a title like “Second Guessing,” I like many people assumed the song would be about doubting a relationship. Instead, the lyrics paint a beautiful picture of the certainty that only comes with experiencing great love.

“Since I met you, I / I ain’t spent one second guessin’ / I made up my mind / I never knew, I / Just had to find my direction / Gettin’ lost in your eyes / Because I’ve turned days into nights / And spent all of my life askin’ questions / Now I don’t spend one second guessin’ “

 

 

Erica Zisman, Contributing Writer

Pick: “i don’t really like your boyfriend” – Avenue Beat
Songwriters: Sam Backoff, Savana Santos, Sami Bearden, Summer Overstreet

This month I ended up choosing another Avenue Beat song as my pick of the month by happenstance. “i don’t really like your boyfriend” has been stuck in my head, since the moment the songstresses previewed it on their social media. It is catchy, clever, and just so real. I cannot get enough of Avenue Beat’s unprecedented honesty and their authenticity. I truly fall in love with just about every song they release.

“Here’s a solid reason why he’s actually the worst / You can’t get trashed at a party without checking with him first / And he says it’s cause he’s worried cause the world is filled with creeps / But he’s really just projecting his own insecurities, yeah / I don’t really like your boyfriend”

The song is a certified bop that you must listen to ASAP!

Listen to our picks on our “What We’re Listening To” playlist on Spotify and be sure to give it a follow, so you can catch our monthly updates.

—————

SHOP THE HERO COLLECTION

The Hero Collection by NYCountry Swag is inspired by the men and women of the Fire, Police and Military Departments across the country. A portion of sales from each purchase is donated to different foundations that support our heroes. We are dedicated to honoring their service and remembering their sacrifice.

—————————-

Thank You for supporting Country Music in NYC & Beyond!

Subscribe to our Weekly Round-Up here
for ticket giveaways, meet & greet contests, upcoming events,
and all things country music in the New York metro area and beyond!

+ Follow our country music adventures on InstagramTwitter & Facebook:

What We’re Listening To: April Picks

NYCountry Swag’s “What We’re Listening To” playlist highlights the wide range of our team’s favorite songs and artists when it comes to the country music genre.  At the end of the day, we are all fans first with a passion for country music and are eager to share with you all what we’ve got on repeat each month.

Find below each of our team member’s favorite songs and why in our April picks. Then be sure to give our Spotify account a follow and listen to our favorite tracks!

 

APRIL PICKS:

 

Stephanie Wagner, Founder

Pick: “Be A Light” – Thomas Rhett feat. Reba, Hillary Scott, Chris Tomlin & Keith Urban
Songwriters: Josh Miller, Josh Thompson, Matt Dragstrem, Thomas Rhett

This month, I’m listening to Thomas Rhett’s “Be A Light” with Reba, Hillary Scott, Chris Tomlin, and Keith Urban. Often times I feel lucky to be a country music fan and a part of the country music industry in general, but in times of turmoil, my pride for the country music world only grows stronger. In the past month, as the world struggles with our new reality surrounding COVID-19, country music stars have worked relentlessly to continue to push positivity forward. “Be A Light” is a strong example of this. Surprising fans with the release of the song, Rhett and friends remind others that through times of darkness, we can all do our part to help by being a light. It’s a song of hope, encouragement, and leaves a feeling of togetherness that the world needs right now. I’ve been listening to it daily and have enjoyed the reminders and positive vibes the song leaves.

 

Christina Bosch, Managing Editor 

Pick: “Water in his Wine Glass” – Maddie & Tae
Songwriters: Jimmy Robbins, Jon Nite, Maddie Marlow, Taylor Dye

One facet of my life that I have been leaning on intensely during this pandemic is my faith and when I first heard this track from Maddie & Tae’s sophomore album, The Way It Feels, I stopped what I was doing, closed my eyes and just listened. The intricate details in the lyrics that act as a quiet prayer pull you in and curate feelings of sympathy for those who have dealt with addiction.

Wishing things could be different, lamenting alcohol and what it can do to a person, this track is so raw and real. “I don’t wanna lose him / Oh, but he’s already lost / And the only one who can find him is looking down here from a cross”  they sing in angelic harmony. “I’m on my knees and all I ask / Is Lord, pour water in his wine glass”

This perspective can be taken by so many who have coped with the disease of alcoholism and while an ask for help, it can also be a cornerstone for those who believe.

 

Lucie Bernheim, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Brave” – Ruston Kelly
Songwriters: Ruston Kelly

The last few months have been some of the most life-changing of my life, and music has been what’s gotten me and so many others through. When I heard Ruston Kelly’s new single, “Brave”, I was instantly stunned, as I am when I hear most of his songs. I love it when songs are stripped to their core because the story stands out amongst everything else. While the lyrics are specific to his life and his journey, it’s easy to place yourself in the track. It’s achingly relatable. Kelly is truly a poet, and his words say things that so many want to say but can’t. “And I didn’t give up to the darkness/I fought with all my might/And I never took for granted/All the love in my life.” Spring has just started, and this is the perfect reflection of the changing season and the changing times.

 

Dylan Bestler, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Young Once” – Sam Hunt
Songwriters: Josh Osborne, Matt Jenkins, Sam Hunt, Zach Crowell

I love everything about this album, so it was hard to pick just one song. I’ve been singing the chorus of “Young Once” over and over again in my head because it’s so catchy and brings me back to a time when nothing really mattered and I could just focus on having fun and trying not to get in trouble. Country music in general is really good at putting you back in that mindset.

Two lines in this song that stand out to me are “Time goes by and it’ll dull the razor” and “Someday we’re gonna know too much to know it all.” Both are cool ways of saying ‘let’s enjoy being young and naive now because we won’t have opportunities like this when we’re older.’ The first is a sadder way of saying it and the second makes me laugh, as it reminds me of times when I’d get in trouble and argue with my parents because I thought I was the smartest person in the world.

I loved my childhood and songs like these help me re-live moments from it in my head.

 

Kristina Callahan, Contributing Writer

Pick: “overshare” – Kelsea Ballerini
Songwriters: Kelsea Ballerini, Jesse Frasure, Josh Osborne, Tayla Parx

Kelsea Ballerini is one of the best at writing relatable and raw songs and “overshare” is a perfect example. It’s the first song on her third studio album, kelsea, and it’s extremely personable about how she gets nervous in situations and tends to talk and in the process, embarrass herself at times.

“I overshare, because I over-care // ’bout the person over there, who’s completely unaware that // I overthink, then I overdrink to overcompensate // Yeah, I know, there’s moments that I’m missin’ // If I’d just shut up and listen // But silence makes me scared // So then I overshare”

Ballerini’s writing is so honest and as a listener, you see yourself in her songs. Her whole album rings true to that and that’s why I can’t stop listening.

 

Jeremy Chua, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Getting Good” – Lauren Alaina
Songwriters: Emily Weisband

Lauren Alaina’s current radio single and invitation to live in the moment cannot be any more apt. In a time where many of us are forced out of our comfort zone by circumstances beyond our control, “Getting Good” brings encouragement to the weary heart. Covering relatable themes of love, life, material wealth, loss and contentment, Alaina reminds us that pursuing of wants is OK, but they should co-exist with this simple motto: “Once I learn to grow right where I’m planted, maybe that’s when life starts getting good.” If your life has also been a roller-coaster ridden with doubt and uncertainty, go check this song out. I’m almost certain it’ll speak to you and provide some comfort to the heart. After all, isn’t that what country music does?

 

Erin Crosby, Contributing Writer

Pick: “2016” – Sam Hunt
Songwriters: Josh Thompson, Zach Crowell, Sam Hunt

Southside, Sam Hunt’s second studio album, opens with an authentic approach that deals with taking responsibility and holding yourself accountable for former mistakes. This track, titled “2016”, sets the stage to showcase the singer-songwriter inside of Hunt. The stripped-down production holds the type of emotion that speaks to the listener; the one where less is not more.

“And I’d drive a thousand miles to your house / Walk in like I walked out / Put the tears back in your eyes / ‘Cause all my lies could still come true / I’d tell you everything was alright / And hold you, baby, all night / When your heart was all patched up / And our love was good as new / I’d take 2016 / And give it back to you”

In fact, in July of 2018, when this bad-boy country singer sat down in front of a piano for “Make You Miss Me” on the Atlantic City BeachFest stage, it wasn’t hard to admit how gifted of an entertainer Hunt truly is. The performance was done very intimate: just him and the keys. It portrayed the musician.

“2016” does the same. After each listen, the emotion doesn’t soften.

 

Alexa Ebner, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Bad Advice” – Ingrid Andress
Songwriters: Derrick Southerland, Ingrid Andress, Jamie Moore

So far, I’ve loved every song that Ingrid Andress has released – her debut album, Lady Like is captivating. One of my favorites on the album is the playful, yet sorrowful opening track, “Bad Advice”.  The production is unique and fresh to listen to, most notably with the tropical and soothing extended introduction.

The lyrics are casual, raw, and super relatable! In the very first line the songwriter sings, “I drove / down to Trader Joe’s / straight to aisle 5 / got a bottle of Merlot”. She mixes it up with several ‘talking’ verses that lead us straight into the catchy chorus, which features the juxtaposition of fun-loving lyrics and pure emotional desperation. You can hear the conviction come through Andress’ voice throughout the song, making this one so special.

 

Julia Grubbs, Contributing Writer

Pick: “I Kept The Roses” – Tenille Townes
Songwriters: Chris Gelbuda, Dustin Christiansen, Tenille Townes

It’s one thing to be alone during this time, but for anyone going through a breakup, this song hits right to the heart. Tenille has been my number one lately, and this song doesn’t disappoint. It might be a breakup song, and you can tell it truly hurt, but rather than being resentful or pitying herself, she’s found the seed for growth. She realizes that to have loved and lost is better than to have never loved at all and that she realizes that love is still possible, even though she’s dealing with a broken heart. It reminds us all that no matter how low we might feel, we can always grow and learn something, and be so grateful for the journey.
“And they should make me lonely / But I’m smiling instead / Oh, ’cause you weren’t the one, babe / But you were the closest”

Molly Holmberg, Contributing Writer

Pick: “This Woman and This Man” – Clay Walker
Songwriters: Jeff Penning, Michael Lunn

Ever since COVID-19 hit I have decided to move home for a few weeks to spend more time with my family since school is all online. One thing I have missed is listening to old, classic country with my dad. The song that I, shamefully, forgot existed is Clay Walker’s “This Woman and This Man”. The song, well it’s a heartbreaker. The singer confronts his partner sharing his feelings that he beforehand was unable to explain. This hypothetical situation he is singing about attempts to get the woman to see it is their relationship as they drift apart. The lyrics in the song are masterfully crafted and it is songs like these that make me fall in love with classic country all over again.

 

Nicole Piering, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Be A Light” – Thomas Rhett feat. Reba, Hillary Scott, Chris Tomlin & Keith Urban
Songwriters: Josh Miller, Josh Thompson, Matt Dragstrem, Thomas Rhett

In these crazy times, most of us use music to escape. For this reason, I’m picking Thomas Rhett’s “Be a Light” as my April pick. On the track, Rhett enlists some famous friends including Reba McEntire, Hillary Scott, Chris Tomlin, and Keith Urban to spread his message of doing what’s right and being a light in the darkness. “Don’t hide in the dark, you were born to shine,” They sing. “In a world full of hate, be a light.” It’s a message we could all use right now, and the combination of these five distinct, yet familiar voices, make the song all the more special.

 

Michal Pietrzak, Contributing Writer

Pick: “That’s Everything” – Matt Kennon
Songwriters: Aaron Scherz, Adam Browder

Matt Kennon “That’s Everything” – This song is my an early contender to become The Most Beautiful Country Songs of 2020. Calm, slow tunes and compelling lyrics are my cup of tea. The song is about little things in life that matter the most. How a pinch of love and a message on a mirror can change your day in a positive way. Matt Kennon’s raspy voice makes this song a gem, at least, for me. “Listening to her even though I don’t have a thing to say/ Making sure she knows she’s the best part of my day/ A random outta nowhere just because I can steal her kiss/ I’ve burnt a couple of dinners trying to give her all that I get/ It don’t seem like much/ But a little bit of love doing what it does/ It’s more than enough”.

 

Rebekah Milsted, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Humble and Kind” – Tim McGraw
Songwriters: Lori McKenna

My April pick is Humble and Kind by Tim McGraw. This song was always special to me, I even have a sign hanging up in my living room. But now during these weird times, the lyrics mean more than ever. While we may not like being able to live our normal routine, we have to remember that we are all in this together. Be nice to those around you, especially those essential employees who are putting themselves in danger to make sure we have everything that we need.

Pick: “Both” – Ingrid Andress
Songwriters: Derrick Southerland, Ingrid Andress, Jordan Schmidt

Andress exploded onto the country music scene with “More Hearts Than Mine” earlier this year, but one of my favorites off her new album is a track titled “Both”. We’ve all had someone who wants to have their cake and eat it too when it comes to love (or maybe we’ve been that person) – getting close enough to reap the benefits of a relationship but not close enough to fully commit. It can be infuriating when the other person is half in, half out, especially when you just want to know where you stand. Andress’ chilling vocals on this song and the poignant lyrics around the topic are sure to give you all the feels.

“You can tell me to stay / You can push me away / Have space or get close / But you can’t do both / You can kiss me goodnight / Or kiss me goodbye / Baby, love me or don’t / But you can’t do, you can’t do both”

 

Erica Zisman, Contributing Writer

Pick: “thank you anxiety” – Avenue Beat
Songwriters: Sam Backoff, Sami Bearden, Savana Santos, Summer Overstreet

This month I chose to highlight Avenue Beat’s brand new song “thank you anxiety.” First and foremost, if you have not yet heard of Avenue Beat, stop what you’re doing, and go listen to them. They are a trio of extremely talented ladies, who not only can sing but have swagger for days and killer lyrics. This particular song is extremely relatable for me, and I am sure many others out there.

Typically anxiety is not something discussed in a country song, but the group does it in such a way that rids it of its taboo, while maintaining a necessary level of sass, maturity, and sarcasm. The songstresses deliver a song that is especially relevant in today’s climate. Their honesty and openness to discuss something so personal, yet important is refreshing. I appreciate their ability to ‘go there’ with their music, and I look forward to more inspiring songs by the girls!

Listen to our picks on our “What We’re Listening To” playlist on Spotify and be sure to give it a follow, so you can catch our monthly updates.

—————

SHOP THE HERO COLLECTION

The Hero Collection by NYCountry Swag is inspired by the men and women of the Fire, Police and Military Departments across the country. A portion of sales from each purchase is donated to different foundations that support our heroes. We are dedicated to honoring their service and remembering their sacrifice.

—————————-

Thank You for supporting Country Music in NYC & Beyond!

Subscribe to our Weekly Round-Up here
for ticket giveaways, meet & greet contests, upcoming events,
and all things country music in the New York metro area and beyond!

+ Follow our country music adventures on InstagramTwitter & Facebook:

What We’re Listening To: March Picks

NYCountry Swag’s “What We’re Listening To” playlist highlights the wide range of our team’s favorite songs and artists when it comes to the country music genre.  At the end of the day, we are all fans first with a passion for country music and are eager to share with you all what we’ve got on repeat each month.

Find below each of our team member’s favorite songs and why in our March picks. Then be sure to give our Spotify account a follow and listen to our favorite tracks!

 

MARCH PICKS:

 

Stephanie Wagner, Founder

Pick: “Man Enough Now” – Chris Bandi
Songwriters: Jason Allen Duke, Jason Massey

After seeing Chris perform this song live for a Swag Session earlier this month, I loved it even more than I had originally. The lyrics depict a story that everyone who has been in a relationship can relate to. I’m really looking forward to seeing this song take country radio by storm.

 

Christina Bosch, Managing Editor 

Pick: “Janice at the Hotel Bar” – Hailey Whitters
Songwriters: Lori McKenna, Hailey Whitters

This was always going to be my pick for March but the words to “make a good life” ring true even more as we face these scary times with COVID-19. The thing I love about this song most is I have been following Living with Landyn on Instagram for over 5 years and I remember her telling a story about a woman that she met in a hotel bar in NYC and one of my all-time favorite songwriters, Lori McKenna heard the story and teamed up with Hailey to write the song.

We all have a ‘Janice’ in our life, someone who has great advice and who has lived a life to admire. The words in this song resonate so clearly to not take anything for granted and to remember what truly matters in life.

“Make good love, good company / Drink good wine, make good coffee / Keep your chin up, but every once in a while / Have a good cry / Well, go on and make a good living, girl, don’t forget / To make a good life”

 

Lucie Bernheim, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Small Town Hypocrite” – Caylee Hammack
Songwriters: Caylee Hammack, Jared Scott

I’ve liked all of Caylee Hammack’s previously released singles, but when I heard her new song, “Small Town Hypocrite”, I was instantly stopped in my tracks. The delicate guitar is stunning, and the lyrics are evocative and cut you right to your core. “And that scholarship was a ship that sailed/When I chose you and daddy gave me hell”, she sings on the second verse, telling the story of a girl who’s dreams were bigger than her town but had succumbed to what she described as a small town hypocrite: everything she used to hate. It’s clear that Hammack is on her way to becoming one of country’s best songwriter-artists. Her voice soars on the chorus, where she sings with everything in her, “And I’m staring at a picket fence/Wondering where the hell time went/I should’ve been running, running, running by now/But I just hang around.” It’s a powerful song that is very autobiographical but manages to still be universal.

Dylan Bestler, Contributing Writer

Pick: Pretty Heart” – Parker McCollum
Songwriters: Parker McCollum, Randy Montana

This song is getting a lot of airtime on Sirius XM and for good reason. This track is extremely catchy and Parker’s distinctive vocals give it that uniqueness that will make this a smash-hit for him. I never heard of McCollum before this song. I thought he was a new, up-and-coming artist but after looking him up, I discovered he has two full-length albums. I guess I have something to do during the quarantine.

 

Kristina Callahan, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Thinking ‘Bout You” – Dustin Lynch
Songwriters: Dustin Lynch, Andy Albert, Hunter Phelps, Will Weatherly 

This album has been out for more than two months and I’m still playing it on repeat. The mix of Dustin Lynch’s smooth, southern twang and Lauren Alaina’s powerhouse vocals gives me a chill every time. The concept is simple as Lynch sings about an old love interest calling him and immediately all these memories come to mind.

“I was just thinkin’ ’bout that weekend out on Cumberland Lake // And that one time in Baton Rouge when we made out in the rain // Where we went chasin’ fallin’ stars on a hill at your daddy’s farm // Don’t be sorry for callin’ me up out of the blue // I was was just thinkin’ ’bout you”

I think almost everyone can relate to a song like this and Lynch, as a songwriter and a singer, is so good at bringing out those nostalgic moments.

 

Jeremy Chua, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Ain’t Lookin’ Back” – Mo Pitney
Songwriters: Derek George, Tony Martin, Wendell Mobley

Mo Pitney’s back with new music this year, baby! His latest release, “Ain’t Lookin’ Back,” reflects on his decision to not let the past define his future while acknowledging the undeniable impact past events have in shaping his life. I think this aspect and two-way thought really resonates with me because, again, of the recent changes and happenings in my life. His sentiment on this encouraging tune comes out at a timely point in my life. “I spend enough time watching the sunset / All the way down into the darkness / Now I just wanna drive every day / Right into the sunrise,” he sings, almost as if he’s lived through these questions, doubts and resolution. Hell, maybe he has– and that’s what makes this delivery special. (side-note: excited about Mo’s sophomore record, due for release later this year! “A Music Man” will hit home for many.)

 

Erin Crosby, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Halfway Home” – Carly Pearce
Songwriters: Carly Pearce, Jimmy Robbins, Laura Veltz

Carly Pearce lays down her soul with a freeing yet guilty revelation in a new track, from her sophomore self-titled album, “Halfway Home”. It sets the stage to annotate a halfway-out-the-door type of relationship that is preserved solely out of the fear and reluctance in breaking a heart.

The lyrics are magic and take on a more conversational route than what one might be used to. This couplet introduces the humble goodbye to a love grown out of itself which immediately grabs the listeners’ attention and gives Pearce the chance to tell the rest of her story:

“Blame it on me, I’m an actor, I’m a fake / Blame it on me, I broke your heart but by mistake”

The production involves guilt, but somehow the heartbreaker is seen as an innocent. It’s all in the delivery and this singer-songwriter delivered well.

 

Molly Holmberg, Contributing Writer

Pick: “God Whispered Your Name” – Keith Urban
Songwriters: Chris August, James Slater, Micah Carter, Shy Carter

“God Whispered Your Name” is Keith Urban’s newest music release since his single “We Were” alongside Eric Church. The song sets the somber mood of a lost soul looking for its way in the world. It was not until God whispered a name that the world suddenly began to make sense again. Whether it was a person that came into your life or a realization you had, everyone can relate to going through a journey of being lost and found again. I personally can relate to that in so many areas of my life and the lyrics really hit me upon first listen.

“Suddenly I wanna live / More than I ever did / I’m never gonna be the same / When God whispered your name”

 

Briana Lopez, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Giving You Up” – Kameron Marlowe
Songwriters: Kameron Marlowe

Kameron Marlowe is an artist that I recently came across. His song “Giving You Up” is a somber story of growing from a heartbreak.

The lyrics and melody tell a story that I feel like everyone can relate to. Everyone loves a good heartbreak song and this one hits every major point. Marlowe begins the song by telling the person who crushed his heart not to come around anymore after how the relationship ended.

“Don’t you dare try and reappear after you already got me standing here/ I can’t believe you would come at me looking for a little bit of sympathy/ Like I wasn’t the one you left all alone crying/ Looking like a hot mess/ Don’t show your face’ round here any more honey/ This is something you better get through your head”

For me, the best part of the song is the chorus because it shows the transition from hurting to realizing what is actually happening in his life.

“And I’m giving you up/ The same way I did the whiskey on ice/ And it’s all so tough/ You turned me into a man I don’t even recognize/ I’m giving you up/ The same way you did me out in the moonlight”

This is definitely the ultimate bounce back from a break-up song. Showing that there is hope in the heartache and hope in rebuilding your heart after someone does you wrong.

 

Nicole Piering, Contributing Writer

Pick: “If The World Was Ending” – Hannah Ellis & Nick Wayne
Songwriters: JP Saxe, Julia Michaels

Even before all of the madness that is COVID-19 and social distancing, I was hooked on the song “If the World Was Ending” by Nick Wayne and Hannah Ellis. The song tells the story of two ill-fated lovers, as he asks if she’d come over if the world was ending. The pair may not be meant for each other long term, but there’s love there that they need to express upon the end of the world. On the mostly-acoustic duet, the pair harmonize mournfully over Wayne’s guitar strumming. “But if the world was ending/ You’d come over right?”, they implore each other, and this song has never felt more timely than in these uncertain times. Sometimes you just need a sad song, and “If the World Was Ending” is the perfect one, especially now.

 

Michal Pietrzak, Contributing Writer

Pick: “I’ll Be The Sad Song” – Brandy Clark
Songwriters: Brandy Clark, Chase McGill, Jessie Jo Dillon

I don’t know if it’s her storytelling or voice but she’s simply wonderful. I guess I love sad songs because I can’t stop listening to it since it had been released. This record has all the features I adore, beautiful melody, true to the core lyrics, delightful voice, and amazing performance. So far Brandy Clark’s Your Life is a Record album is my favorite album of the year.

“If your life is a record/ People and places are the songs/ I’ll be your sad song/ Your “what we almost had” song/ Your “might’ve been but wasn’t meant to be”/ Couldn’t be your happy song/ But at least we had a song/ So I’ll be the sad song you sing/ ‘ Cause you’ll always be that song to me”

Pick: “One Margarita”- Luke Bryan
Songwriters: Josh Thompson, Matt Dragstrem, Michael Carter

My song for March is “One Margarita” by Luke Bryan. Times are crazy right now, one thing getting shutdown after another. This song came out at the perfect time to remind us to live in the moment, relax and enjoy a margarita, even if at the moment this has to all be done from home. We can’t stop enjoying life just because we’re stuck inside. The world will hopefully return to normalcy soon.

Pick: “What Are You Gonna Tell Her” – Mickey Guyton
Songwriters: Emma-Lee, Karen Kosowski, Mickey Guyton, Victoria Banks

I can’t remember the last time a song gave me chills from the first verse through the final note but the timely ballad from Mickey Guyton absolutely blew me away. The new song, which she premiered during Country Radio Seminar in Nashville last month, got a standing ovation from the crowd for its haunting reminder of the inequities women face in our society. One of the things that make country music so powerful is the honesty with which artists write, and you can tell from listening to this track that Guyton feels incredibly passionate about this topic. The verses describe an innocent young girl with the world at her fingertips and the hard truth that the deck is stacked against her.

“But what are you gonna tell her when she’s wrong? / Will you just shrug and say it’s been that way all along? / What are you gonna tell her when she figures out / That all this time you’ve built her up / Just so the world could let her down? / Yeah what will you tell her?”

 

Erica Zisman, Contributing Writer

Pick: “White Lightning” – The Cadillac Three

Songwriters: Jaren Johnston

This month I’m throwing it back to a song from five years ago, “White Lightning” by The Cadillac Three. After recently seeing the incredible trio perform in New York City, and falling in love with their newest album, I rediscovered how much I enjoy this particular song. Although different than their typical ‘rough around their edges’ tunes, I truly believe the song was one of the first to really show how versatile and musical the band can be.

“Faster than number three breaking every record / Faster than a tree dies in the desert / Faster than a bug splattered on my windshield / Faster than you die when you take too many pills / Ooh, I saw white lightning / Ooh, I saw white lightning”

Additionally, I love that it’s a love song because it’s unexpected. The vulnerability in the song is both endearing and believable, and I especially love how pretty, yet strong the vocals are. Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the song is a solo-write by Jaren Johnston, which to me, makes it that more special. So in the midst of all the new and great music that is constantly being released, I encourage you to add this old-school jam back to your playlist!

Listen to our picks on our “What We’re Listening To” playlist on Spotify and be sure to give it a follow, so you can catch our monthly updates.

—————

SHOP THE HERO COLLECTION

The Hero Collection by NYCountry Swag is inspired by the men and women of the Fire, Police and Military Departments across the country. A portion of sales from each purchase is donated to different foundations that support our heroes. We are dedicated to honoring their service and remembering their sacrifice.

—————————-

Thank You for supporting Country Music in NYC & Beyond!

Subscribe to our Weekly Round-Up here
for ticket giveaways, meet & greet contests, upcoming events,
and all things country music in the New York metro area and beyond!

+ Follow our country music adventures on InstagramTwitter & Facebook:

What We’re Listening To: February Picks

NYCountry Swag’s “What We’re Listening To” playlist highlights the wide range of our team’s favorite songs and artists when it comes to the country music genre.  At the end of the day, we are all fans first with a passion for country music and are eager to share with you all what we’ve got on repeat each month.

Find below each of our team member’s favorite songs and why in our February picks. Then be sure to give our Spotify account a follow and listen to our favorite tracks!

 

FEBRUARY PICKS:

 

Stephanie Wagner, Founder

Pick: “Like I Used To Love You” – Russell Dickerson
Songwriters: Casey Brown, Parker Welling, Russell Dickerson

It’s been nearly two and a half years since we got new music from Russell Dickerson, but the wait is finally over and “Love You Like I Used To” surely doesn’t disappoint. The sweet love song in honor of Dickerson’s wife Kailey is exactly what was missing in country music today. We have the new love songs, the break-up songs, the cheating songs, but what about the songs that praise a love that only gets better and better. I love how the opening lines could lead you to believe the song may end differently, but as you get closer to the chorus you’re hit with the idea that the love isn’t like it used to be, it’s even better, creating a picture-perfect idea of what every relationship should be, stronger with time. The song has powerful lyrics paired with a radio-friendly beat and I can already picture fans across the country singing this song back during RD’s live shows.

Christina Bosch, Managing Editor 

Pick: “What I’m Leaving For” – Lady Antebellum
Songwriters: Laura Veltz, Micah Rayan Premnath, Sam Ellis

As a mom, this song really struck a chord with me the first time I heard it. It doesn’t matter what industry you work in when you have to leave the house each day, you miss your children terribly. I was instantly brought to tears with lyrics like “And it kills me that I gotta go / Couldn’t do it if I didn’t know / That every time I’m walking out that door / You know what I’m leaving for”.

By pursuing my dreams, I am becoming a role model for my son, to chase after what you love and that hard work will pay off.

 

Lucie Bernheim, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Southern Accident” – Caroline Spence
Songwriters: Caroline Spence

The days are getting longer as we approach spring, and one of my favorite things to do when it’s nice enough is take long walks through the city listening to music. I love the alternative, more singer-songwriter side of country, especially when taking these walks. Caroline Spence’s “Southern Accident” is one I’ve had on repeat for the past month. It’s a song written solely by Spence about her childhood and how it’s nothing like her significant other’s.

It’s thoughtful but really hopeful. The build-up is a slow burn; it starts off with just an acoustic guitar and adds elements like a slow kick-drum and a gliding electric guitar solo. Her voice is stunning as she tells her significant other that while she may be a little skeptical about love, she’s willing to give it a try. “Honey I’m doubtful/Honey I’m hopeful/Honey I’m a handful/But I’m a hand you can hold onto” she sings on the chorus. This season of life feels very transitional, and it’s the perfect song to listen to when reflecting on all these changes.

 

Dylan Bestler, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Asphalt” – Hot Country Knights
Songwriters: Brett Tyler, Jim Beavers, Jon Nite

I was shocked the first time I heard this song. I thought ‘wow, the Hot Country Knights put out a sad, serious song.’ Then I read the lyrics over and I understood the real meaning. As an avid Dierks Bentley fan, I’m going to love anything he puts out, but even as a comedy song, it’s extremely witty and well-written. The whole song is a play-on-words and at first listen, it may seem like the singer just loves driving on the open road but in reality, he’s chasing something else. There are eight different butt jokes that are cleverly thrown into the lyrics, that when tied together with the music video, make it such a hilarious, enjoyable track. I love this whole bit and I’m anxiously waiting to see more from the Hot Country Knights.

It ain’t my fault / It’s that asphalt / Yeah, it calls out my name and I’m gone just like that/ I don’t really care if it’s curvy or flat / I could stay, but there’s always a “but”

 

Kristina Callahan, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Best Night Ever” – Chase Rice
Songwriters: Chase Rice, Chris DeStefano, Matt Jenkins

When I first heard Chase Rice tease this song on his Instagram, I knew it’d be one of my favorite songs. It tells an intimate, personal and fun story about a special night. The lyrics are extremely catchy and you get a look into his world as they paint a vivid image.

“Never seen you so beautiful, darling // Running through rain in the dark, best night ever // Then you pulled me in hard under that pole barn // Oh my God, it was the best night ever”

I think most people can relate to having a specific memory or night ingrained in their mind and this song speaks to that.

 

Jeremy Chua, Contributing Writer

Pick: “It Won’t Always Be Like This” – Carly Pearce
Songwriters: Carly Pearce, Natalie Hemby, Sam Ellis

Coinciding with the Big Machine Records artist’s sophomore album release week is my choice for this month’s team picks– “It Won’t Always Be Like This” by Carly Pearce. This poignant song speaks to me so much right now, after being hit with a big life/educational/college curveball and detour. The lyric that resonates most? “I had big wings but didn’t have a sky / Just a front-row view of everybody flying high / Waiting for my time.” I believe this vulnerable lyric must have come from a place of doubt, fear and disappointment, something that perhaps writers Pearce, Natalie Hemby and Sam Ellis personally drew from. While I’m excited to hear CP2 in its entirety, I have a good feeling this song will be a standout and favorite for me, and anyone else who’s on a journey to chase their passion-fueled dreams.

 

Erin Crosby, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Drunk Again” – Nick Wayne feat. Hannah Ellis
Songwriters: Emily Shackleton, Joe Ginsberg, Nick Wayne

Nick Wayne has been on my playlists for years, though somehow I am only just realizing how truly gifted of a singer-songwriter he is. I watched Wayne and Hannah Ellis on IGTV during their Bobby Bones Show visit a few weeks ago and ever since I’ve been hooked on the way their voices merge and flatter one another. “Drunk Again” is a new release from Wayne that includes background vocals from a rising female country artist, Ellis. It coincides with the “Tequila” by Dan + Shay theme whereas alcohol is a reminder of a romance gone wrong, though this new track contains a more desperate heartache that is amplified with the Nashville native’s earthy rasp and a bit of a more stripped-down production with piano as the sole instrument heavily present throughout.

 

Alexa Ebner, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Life Of the Party” – Ingrid Andress
Songwriters: Ingrid Andress, Jason Yik Nam Wu, Jesse “Babyface” Thomas

I’m so excited that Ingrid Andress is finally releasing new music in anticipation of her upcoming album “Lady Like” on March 27th. I love how honest and raw her songs are – she shows her fans that she’s really just like all of us. In her new single, “Life of the Party”, Andress plays the role of a fun, carefree party girl masking her emotions. In her NYC live show at Rockwood Music Hall in October 2019, the singer-songwriter previewed this track with the audience among other songs that will be on her new album. She shared with the audience this song is about her struggling through a breakup, and how she’d hide her pain and pretend everything is okay. This is a relatable song, showing that no matter how one appears on the outside, you never know what struggles they are facing. I love the passion and intensity in Andress’ voice and how she’s 100% real with her fans through the lyrics. There is a perfect balance of an upbeat tempo with somber undertones – mirroring the dual nature of the song’s meaning.

 

Julia Grubbs, Contributing Writer 

Pick: “Both” – Ingrid Andress
Songwriters: Derrick Southerland, Ingrid Andress, Jordan Schmidt

Ingrid Andress has definitely been flying to the top of my go-to listens lately, but this is definitely one of my favorites. She is such an amazing lyricist, with words that touch the pinpoint of the emotion that pulls you in every time. “Both” captures the heart of so many almost-relationships of today, with a true dichotomy of intentions being displayed. This, in so many words, is what I hear all my girlfriends say. This song has the singer-songwriter vibe that is present in most of her songs but doesn’t fail to ring true to the heart of the country spirit.
“You’re blurring the lines, you’re playing two sides / Just make up your mind / You can tell me to stay, you can push me away /Have space or get close /But you can’t do both”

 

Molly Holmberg, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Thinking ‘Bout You” – Dustin Lynch
Songwriters: Andy Albert, Dustin Lynch, Hunter Phelps, Will Weatherly

“Thinking ‘Bout You” by Dustin Lynch is a song that I have been playing nonstop since he released his latest album, Tullahoma, earlier this year. The song features Lauren Alaina’s vocals and is the perfect nostalgic song for anyone who has had a past relationship they cannot get out of their head. Reminiscing on a past love, the lyrics read “Don’t be sorry for callin’ me up out of the blue, I was was just thinkin’ ’bout you”. The song would appear to be a slow ballad although upon first listen it is upbeat and has a melody that gets you singing for months to come.

 

Briana Lopez, Contributing Writer

Pick: “I Do For You” – Dillon Carmichael
Songwriters: Dillon Carmichael, Jimmy Melton

Dillon Carmichael is an artist that I recently came across this past month. His song “I Do For You” co-written by him and Jimmy Melton made me fall in love with his music.

The lyrics mixed with the soulful upbeat music makes for a great track with a sweet gesture behind it. The song is all about changing up the things you do for the person you love.

Carmichael begins the song by naming all these things that he’d never do.

“I don’t take phone calls when I’m fishing/ I don’t do weddings and I don’t do dishes/ I’m not gonna sit in the front pew/ I don’t go to the mall on Saturday/ I never felt the call to spend my time that way/ But I’m proud to say I do for you”

As if the song couldn’t get better, it most certainly does, especially with the sweet ending in the last verse.

“Trim my beard up/ Put a suit on/Pick a preacher/ Pick a love song/ Never thought I’d see the day I say “I do”/ I do for you”

If you’re looking for the perfect love song that is full of fun, love, and meaning then this one is definitely a contender!

 

Nicole Piering, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Nobody But You” – Blake Shelton feat. Gwen Stefani
Songwriters: Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne, Ross Copperman, Tommy Lee James

My pick of the month is “Nobody But You” by Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani. On paper, the two make absolutely no sense together, musically or otherwise. He’s Blake Shelton, all Oklahoma country, and she’s Gwen Stefani, all California cool and No Doubt swag. Somehow, however, they manage to use their differences to create magic, as evidenced on this duet, and it works. Really well. I absolutely love this song and I’ve had it on repeat since it was released.

 

Michal Pietrzak, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Whiskey Kinda Night” – William Michael Morgan
Songwriters: Adam Woods, Doug Johnson, Warner Tamerlane

I hope this song is just a tease of the new album because it’s amazing and the video clip is beautiful (glimpses of the bar are the reason why I want to go to the USA and drink a beer or two in that kind of bar) and he hasn’t released an album in four years. Soft and slow sounds make this song perfect at least for me. He sings about the pain/regret of losing someone you love especially if you’re the side which messed things up, so he drinks to get through the night that’s the reason why it’s whiskey kind night. I don’t know how, but a line like “It ain’t a buzz from a rum and coke” subconsciously convinced me to buy a rum and coke.

“It ain’t a buzz from a rum and coke/ A Miller Light? Yeah right, that’s a joke/ It can’t touch this heartache inside/ No, it’s whiskey kinda night”

Pick: “Forever To Go- Chase Rice
Songwriters: Casey Brown, Geoffrey Warburton, Jordan Minton

“Forever To Go” is my monthly pick for February because, of course, it’s the “month of love”. It’s a great song that shows marriage is more than just a honeymoon phase. It shows that even if you and your significant other have been together for years, your love can continue to grow each day.

 

Pick: “Seeing Other People” – MacKenzie Porter
Songwriters: Emily Falvey, Jason Afable, Matt McGinn

I’ve loved MacKenzie since I saw her perform in all-female writers round a year ago. Her newest release depicts a situation we’ve all been in: when we think we are over someone until we see them with someone else. Feelings are complicated, and no matter how much you think you’ve moved on, seeing your ex out with someone new can make every the most confident person jealous. You second guess yourself, you start making comparisons, and it’s natural to notice yourself acting pretty crazy. The lyrics are simple yet relatable, and it’s a total earworm!

“I thought that seeing other people was something I wanted / yeah I think I hate it if I’m being honest / It kills me to see you with somebody new / Thought we should see other people ’till I started seeing other people with you”

Erica Zisman, Contributing Writer

Pick: “My Person” – Spencer Crandall

Songwriters: Kelly Archer, Lalo Guzman, Spencer Crandall

This month, my song pick came by happenstance. I was watching Sabina’s (Tyler Rich’s wife) Instagram stories when she posted this song by Spencer Crandall called “My Person.” I could barely hear it, but I knew it sounded good. I immediately went to Apple music, looked it up, and fell in love with the love song.

“My person / My heartbeat / My slow dance / My Sunday morning sippin’ on coffee / In bed / My know-when-you-know best friend / The stealin’ / of my t-shirts / My reason for speedin’ home from work / My saving grace / My everything / I’ve never been more sure that you’re / my person”

I learned later on that Tyler Rich has a playlist on Spotify with all his current favorite songs, and this was one of them! Spencer Crandall is a rising country artist I have yet to hear of, so It was cool discovering a new artist with a fresh sound. “My Person” is super relatable and honest, and although love songs are not usually my jam, it deserves the recognition! I wouldn’t be surprised if this tune became someone’s wedding song!

 

Listen to our picks on our “What We’re Listening To” playlist on Spotify and be sure to give it a follow, so you can catch our monthly updates.

—————

SHOP THE HERO COLLECTION

The Hero Collectionby NYCountry Swag is inspired by the men and women of the Fire, Police and Military Departments across the country. A portion of sales from each purchase is donated to different foundations that support our heroes. We are dedicated to honoring their service and remembering their sacrifice.

—————————-

Thank You for supporting Country Music in NYC & Beyond!

Subscribe to our Weekly Round-Up here
for ticket giveaways, meet & greet contests, upcoming events,
and all things country music in the New York metro area and beyond!

+ Follow our country music adventures on InstagramTwitter & Facebook:

What We’re Listening To: January Picks

NYCountry Swag’s “What We’re Listening To” playlist highlights the wide range of our team’s favorite songs and artists when it comes to the country music genre.  At the end of the day, we are all fans first with a passion for country music and are eager to share with you all what we’ve got on repeat each month.

Find below each of our team member’s favorite songs and why in our January picks. Then be sure to give our Spotify account a follow and listen to our favorite tracks!

 

JANUARY PICKS:

 

Stephanie Wagner, Founder

Pick: “Make Me Want To” – Jimmie Allen
Songwriters: Jennifer Denmark, Jimmie Allen, Paul Sikes

This month I chose Jimmie Allen’s “Make Me Want To”. When this song came out on his debut album over a year ago, it was instantly one of my favorites, but as it continues to climb the charts and is played more and more on radio, I constantly find myself going to put it on as soon as I open Spotify. It’s the kind of jam you just have to put a little louder and bop along to. I hope we can see this song hit # 1!

 

Christina Bosch, Managing Editor 

Pick: “Martha Divine” – Ashley McBryde
Songwriters: Ashley McBryde, Jeremy Spillman

Country music does a lot of things well, especially revenge songs. On “Martha Divine”, released just this past Monday, Ashley McBryde continues the narrative from the first hint of new music from the reigning CMA New Artist of the Year award winner, “One Night Standards”. The story is brought to life with the music videos that accompany the songs but what really caught my attention was the powerful drum beat and production.

It’s been over two years since I’ve seen her live, but I can guarantee that “Martha Divine” is going to become a staple in her live set. Revenge killing has been done before, the cheating husband, all of the two-timing bastards, but putting a new twist in this track, it isn’t the man but the mistress getting the ax.

McBryde’s delivery and final ‘nail in the coffin’ line gets me every time I listen, “It ain’t murder if I bury you alive, Martha Divine”. 

 

Lucie Bernheim, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Sugar Coat” – Little Big Town
Songwriters: Jordyn Shellhart, Lori McKenna, Josh Kerr

One of my favorite songs of the past year is Little Big Town’s “Sugar Coat.” It’s a poignant anthem for women and people everywhere. It’s about women feeling the need to gloss over things even when they do not want to. They have been taught to from a very young age, and oftentimes, that weight gets really heavy, as if wearing a coat – hence the play-on-words title. “Passed down from my mom / She wore it so well / She’d rest it on my shoulders / Say it’s colder out there than you think,” member Karen Fairchild sings on the second verse.

The narrator of the song is not the type to turn to alcohol or pills or one-night stands. But sometimes she wishes she was, just so she could feel something other than pain. “Sometimes I hardly can stand it/I just smile with a lump in my throat/Sometimes I wish I could bear it/Didn’t have to wear this sugar coat,” the band sings on the chorus. It’s brilliantly written and brilliantly performed, and as a young woman myself, I resonate with the sentiment.

 

Dylan Bestler, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Sinning With You” – Sam Hunt
Songwriters: Emily Weisband, Josh Osborne, Paul DiGiovanni, Sam Hunt

I’ve been waiting for Sam Hunt to release this since he played it for the first time in September. Written from the perspective of an unmarried man, love puts his faith to the test as he confesses to God that because his feelings for this girl are so strong and he knows they will end up together, the actions they partake in shouldn’t be considered sins.

“As long as you’re for me / as long as I’m for you / who could be against us, baby?”

I find his relationship story so intriguing. The girl he sang all of those songs about on Montevallo (her hometown) is now his wife. In “Drinkin’ Too Much” he straight-up says “Hannah Lee, I’m on my way to you”, and here he is in 2020 singing “I always knew that I would end up with you”. If that’s not love (and perseverance) then I don’t know what is. Like he says in the song, nothing should interfere with true love and they shouldn’t feel guilty about whichever way they want to express it. I believe this song carries more weight than people think.

 

Kristina Callahan, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Front Seat” – Rayne Johnson
Songwriters: Joe Jordan

I first heard this song on Sirius XM “The Highway” and fell in love with it. When I heard the title I immediately thought it’d be a fun, upbeat song about sitting in the front seat of a car but it’s the complete opposite.

“You belong on the right side /Of the right guy that puts you first ’cause you’re the grand prize / And I ain’t saying you belong with me / But you belong in the front seat”

Johnson compares being in the front seat of a car to being someone’s priority. Country music has a ton of cliche yet catchy love songs but I think the lyrics in this one are so unique and I was immediately hooked.

 

Alexa Ebner, Contributing Writer

Pick: “London” – Filmore
Songwriters: John-Luke Carter, Filmore

I love this song, as it’s super honest and relatable. I also enjoy that it’s a little bit slower and calmer than Filmore’s other music. The prominent acoustic guitar makes Filmore’s voice shine and also creates a very nostalgic and comforting mood. It’s interesting to see this different side of him and connect with his music on a deeper level, with the extremely honest lyrics and smoother sound. Throughout the song, Filmore features in clever mentions of the city of London, as he sings about visiting a city alone with someone that you once dreamed/and or planned that you’d be going with.

 

Autumn Haile, Contributing Writer 

Pick: “Good Times” – The Lone Bellow
Songwriters: Aaron Dessner, Brian Elmquist, Jason Pipkin, Zach Williams 

If you need a funky, blues-inspired pick-me-up in the form of a Country/Americana track, look no further than “Good Times” by The Lone Bellow. Nashville transplants by way of Brooklyn, NY, this group of musicians and songwriters make music filled with meaning and washed in stunning harmonies. “Good Times” is no different. It’s a bit more upbeat and atmospheric than some of their previous work, but it’s a reminder as to why these guys have continued to build a strong fanbase year over year — they’re just that good. You’ll want to lift your hands in exultation when the track comes to its wild end.

 

Molly Holmberg, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Damn Strait” – Adam Sanders
Songwriters: Adam Sanders, Ben Stennis, Jordan Rager

Adam Sanders is one of my favorite people I worked with in Nashville last year. Not too shortly after I got to hear him play a song called “Damn Strait” and I fell in love and prayed he would release it. Months go by and Granger Smith cuts the song and Sanders released his own version shortly after. The song makes references to King George Strait’s biggest hits, “Amarillo by Morning” and “Nobody in His Right Mind Would’ve Left Her.” Adam’s grittiness in his voice gives this song the passion to the lyrics, making it a great ode to Strait himself.
“Between the still and the whiskey, something just hit me / Maybe I might’ve been wrong / I’m living every line and nobody in his right mind / Praying that it ain’t too late / Damn Strait”

 

Briana Lopez, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Noise” – Cody Johnson
Songwriters: Gordie Sampson, Jim McCormick, Radney Foster

I’ve been a Cody Johnson fan for about five years now and every song he releases I catch myself calling it my favorite but, his song “Noise” off of his Ain’t Nothin’ To It album is definitely my go to.

The lyrics and music are so powerful and make a good song but, the emotion that he pours into it when he sings makes it a GREAT story.

“Your eyes cut through every distraction/ Through the rage of the machine and the roar of the engines/ This rock keeps turnin’, this city don’t sleep/ You’re my secret shelter when I can’t find peace/ The way you touch, the way you whisper/ The way you love and how it lingers/ You can make it all go away”

This part sends chills up my spine and makes me feel warm inside, especially when he sings it live. His voice and songs make him a powerhouse, and something us local Texans can be proud of.

 

Nicole Piering, Contributing Writer

Pick: “On A Night Like This” – Lady Antebellum
Songwriters: Dave Barnes

One of the songs I can’t get enough of is Lady Antebellum’s version of “On a Night Like This.” I’ve been a huge fan of singer-songwriter Dave Barnes for well over a decade, so to hear Lady A re-record one of his songs was a treat. Their version is stunning and orchestral with a hint of a Christmas vibe, as evidenced by their performance of it on CMA Country Christmas. Make sure to check out the original version as well – they’re both so beautiful and different.

 

Pick: “Everywhere But On” – Matt Stell
Songwriters: Lance Miller, Matt Stell, Paul Sikes

I love songs that tell common storylines but in a new way, and I was intrigued the first time I heard this new one from Matt Stell. The lyrics tell of a familiar tale: a heartbreak that makes you want to run away and start over. But as the character in this story learns, trying to escape the memories and feelings is easier said than done. He moves from state to state, hoping that leaving his small town will be enough to get over his ex. Eventually, though, he realizes he won’t move on until he stops running. Doesn’t that just hit you right in the feels??

“I’ve been from Savannah to Long Beach / Trying to keep your memory out of reach / But there you were in the Delta nights / The Santa Fe sun, the Colorado sky / I could add another pushpin to the map / But that don’t stop me from missing you and looking back / Guess there’s just one place I haven’t gone / I’ve moved everywhere but on”

 

Rebekah Milsted, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Reasons To Drink” – Cole Swindell
Songwriters: Brandon Kinney, Cole Swindell, Michael Carter

My song for this month is “Reasons to Drink” by Cole Swindell. It may be older but it’s a song that can bring anyone together. Whether you’re celebrating a life event, hanging out with your friends, or getting over a breakup, we all have a reason to drink.

 

Erica Zisman, Contributing Writer

Pick: “This Bar” – Morgan Wallen
Songwriters: Ernest Smith, Jackson Morgan, Jake Scott, HARDY, Morgan Wallen, Ryan Vojtesak

This month I had to pick yet another Morgan Wallen song. In my opinion, the rising artist’s newest track “This Bar” is just as good as all the tracks on his debut record. The new song is honest, personal, and relatable- and of course, complete with a catchy hook and chorus.

“I found myself in this bar / Making mistakes and making new friends / I was growing p and nothing made sense / Buzzing all night like neon in the dark / I found myself in this bar”

Wallen is one of the most exciting artists out there right now, and so far, he has yet to disappoint. I am eager to see what his next releases sound like and how he continues to grow as a singer-songwriter.

Listen to our picks on our “What We’re Listening To” playlist on Spotify and be sure to give it a follow, so you can catch our monthly updates.

—————

SHOP THE HERO COLLECTION

The Hero Collectionby NYCountry Swag is inspired by the men and women of the Fire, Police and Military Departments across the country. A portion of sales from each purchase is donated to different foundations that support our heroes. We are dedicated to honoring their service and remembering their sacrifice.

—————————-

Thank You for supporting Country Music in NYC & Beyond!

Subscribe to our Weekly Round-Up here
for ticket giveaways, meet & greet contests, upcoming events,
and all things country music in the New York metro area and beyond!

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NYCS Team Favorite Country Lyrics Of All Time

Country music is known for its incredible storytelling and having lyrics that can change your perspective, mood, and even your life. Our team reflected on their favorite country music lyrics from some of the most iconic songs. Take a look below and let us know in the comments what your favorite country lyric is.

Lyrics

 

Stephanie Wagner, Founder

Lyric: “Follow your arrow, wherever it points” – Follow Your Arrow, Kacey Musgraves

 

Christina Bosch, Managing Editor 

Lyric: “Cause when push comes to shove, you taste what you’re made of / You might bend till you break, ’cause it’s all you can take / On your knees, you look up, decide you’ve had enough / You get mad, you get strong / Wipe your hands, shake it off, then you stand” – Stand, Rascal Flatts

 

Lucie Bernheim, Contributing Writer

Lyric: “Bitterness keeps you from flying, always stay humble and kind”- Humble & Kind, Lori McKenna

 

Dylan Bestler, Contributing Writer

Lyric: “Some days you just get by and some days you’re just alive, some days you’re living.” – Dierks Bentley

 

Kristina Callahan, Contributing Writer

Lyric: “I go back to watchin’ summer fade to fall / Growin’ up too fast and I do recall / Wishin’ time would stop right in its tracks. – I Go Back, Kenny Chesney

 

Erin Crosby, Contributing Writer

Lyric: “I’ve heard of God the Son and God the Father / I’m just looking for a god for the daughters”- The Daughters, Little Big Town

 

Alexa Ebner, Contributing Writer

Lyric: “We’re all flawed and we’re all perfect / we’re all lost and we’re all hurtin’ / and just searchin’ for somebody to love” -Somebody to Love, Kacey Musgraves

 

Julia Grubbs, Contributing Writer 

Lyric: “If I bring you home to mama, I guess I’d better warn ya, she feels every heartache I go through /  And if my dad sees me crying, he’ll pour some whiskey over ice and tell a lie and say he never really liked you / Oh, if we break up, I’ll be fine / But you’ll be breaking more hearts than mine” – More Hearts Than Mine, Ingrid Andress

 

Molly Holmberg, Contributing Writer

Lyric: “Life’s not the breaths you take but the moments that take your breath away.” – The Breath You Take,  George Strait

 

Nicole Piering, Contributing Writer

Lyric:  “Sometimes I thank God/ For unanswered prayers/ Remember when you’re talkin’/ To the man upstairs/That just because he doesn’t answer doesn’t mean he don’t care/ ‘Cause some of God’s greatest gifts / Are unanswered prayers” – Unanswered Prayers, Garth Brooks

 

Lyric: “We all have a song that somehow stamped our lives / takes us to another place and time” – I Go Back, Kenny Chesney
Lyric: “Hey, you call me up again just to break me like a promise. So casually cruel in the name of being honest” – All Too Well, Taylor Swift
Lyric: “Don’t take for granted the love this life gives you” – Humble and Kind, Tim McGraw
Lyric:  “I wanted the world until my whole world stopped.” – What We Ain’t Got, Travis Meadows

 

Shanna Vitaliano, Contributing Writer

Lyric: “Funny how a melody sounds like a memory, like a soundtrack to a July, Saturday night…Springsteen” – Springsteen, Eric Church

Erica Zisman, Contributing Writer

Lyric: “I know my heart will never be the same / But I’m telling myself I’ll be okay / Even on my weakest days, I get a little bit stronger” –  A Little Bit Stronger, Sara Evans

—————

SHOP THE HERO COLLECTION

The Hero Collectionby NYCountry Swag is inspired by the men and women of the Fire, Police and Military Departments across the country. A portion of sales from each purchase is donated to different foundations that support our heroes. We are dedicated to honoring their service and remembering their sacrifice.

—————————-

Thank You for supporting Country Music in NYC & Beyond!

Subscribe to our Weekly Round-Up here
for ticket giveaways, meet & greet contests, upcoming events,
and all things country music in the New York metro area and beyond!

+ Follow our country music adventures on InstagramTwitter & Facebook:

The Ones We Had On Repeat: NYCS Favorite Albums of 2019

As 2019 comes to a close, the New York Country Swag team is highlighting the wide range of our team’s favorite songs and artists when it comes to the country music genre by featuring our favorite album picks of 2019.  At the end of the day, we are all fans first with a passion for country music and are eager to share with you all the albums we’ve had on repeat this year.

Find below each of our team member’s favorite albums and why in our 2019 album picks.

Favorite Albums 2019

 

Stephanie Wagner, Founder

Pick: GIRL – Maren Morris

It was an interesting year for new music in the country genre and I am so proud of the eclectic mix of choices that our team chose for their favorite album picks. For me, Maren Morris’ GIRL was absolutely iconic. During a time when it feels like women needed it most, Maren Morris reminded the world of female empowerment. Morris sings on the album with such fearlessness and delivers each and every track with empathy, compassion, and encouragement.

Delivering a sophomore record after your debut does so well is not always an easy task but Morris stepped up, included tracks that showcased her maturity over the years as well as the changes that occurred in her life between albums. While HERO had standouts like “My Church”, “Second Wind”, and “I Could Use A Love Song”, Morris dug deep for GIRL, producing an album that highlights messy love, empowering emotions and a sense of Girl Power that men, women, young and old will enjoy for years.

 

Christina Bosch, Managing Editor 

Pick: Hixtape Vol. 1 – HARDY

There was no question in my mind which album I was going to choose this year. The concept behind HARDY’s Hixtape is genius, taking artists from different generations, different genres and different major labels in country music and put them all on one project that showcases the best parts of living in a small town. The guest features include Keith Urban, Morgan Wallen, Trace Adkins, Lauren Alaina, Devin Dawson, Mitchell Tenpenny and many more, totaling 17 stars.

Being an early fan of the project, it was particularly incredible to sit down with HARDY and discuss the decision to release this collaboration album during our Swag Session earlier this year.

While each song on the album makes me want to move to a small town in the south, they are still relatable for this country-music-loving New Yorker.

HARDY’s masterful songwriting is on full display with lines like “Somewhere the dirt will stain your boot soles red, like the words I was raised up on” referencing Jesus’s words in the Bible (“My Kinda Living”)  or “But when I get to missin’ my roots, sittin’ somewhere West of wherever, you can find me tapping these Red Wing boots together, cause there ain’t no place like home town” referencing The Wizard of Oz and the ruby slippers (No Place Like Home Town”).

Hands down my favorite song on the record, however, is “One Beer”, a modern-day “There Goes My Life” story that has an infectious chorus and features Lauren Alaina and Devin Dawson. While HARDY narrates the story, Dawson and Alaina become the couple who experienced one beer turning into a whole lot more, eventually ending up with a baby in the carriage. The kicker and the moment that gets me every single listen is the fact that the drumbeat is a baby’s heartbeat, one that you hear for the first time during that initial sonogram.

HARDY’s persona, his clever wordplay, and his impeccable delivery make our team so truly impressed and excited to see what comes next for him in 2020.

 

Lucie Bernheim, Contributing Writer

Pick: How Do You Remember Me – Josh Kerr

There were so many albums that came out in 2019 that I loved start to finish, like Kelleigh Bannen’s Favorite Colors and Maren Morris’ GIRL. But my favorite was Josh Kerr’s debut album, “How Do You Remember Me”. Kerr has been one of the most sought-after songwriters in Nashville for almost half a decade, and his debut is absolutely phenomenal. It’s cohesive, fun, and vulnerable, and it’s as purely singer-songwriter as it is crisp pop-country. Songs like “In Case I Never See You Again” and “It Wasn’t That Long Ago” are upbeat, hit-ready songs, although the latter is a sad song disguised by its poppy elements, which I love.

The standout tracks on Kerr’s project are the confessional “If I’m Being Honest”, and “Love Me Now”. “If I’m Being Honest” is cinematic and pulsing; a song that is impossible not to feel when listening to and stops me in my tracks every time. “Love Me Now” is softer, but is equally as gut-punching. Kerr’s lyrics and artistry are reminiscent of John Mayer and Sam Hunt, as reflected throughout all 11 songs. This is an example of an album that is amazing shuffled or in order, and that is equally strong in lyrical content and production.

Dylan Bestler, Contributing Writer

Pick: Can’t Say I Ain’t Country – Florida Georgia Line

Honestly, not many albums reach my ridiculously high expectations on the first few listens, Can’t Say I Ain’t Country did and then some. A great country album to me is one that can get the party started and then pull at your heartstrings right after. This album has something for everyone; feel-good jams like “Y’all Boys”, slow ballads like “Women” and everything in between. FGL showed their softer side on Dig Your Roots, which I loved, but the ability to do both makes this one really special.

“May We All” was a song I really related to and I didn’t think Florida Georgia Line would ever come back with a song I loved like that one; then I heard “Simple”. Right after hearing the first two lines, (The way your fingers fit in mine / It’s five plus five, not rocket science) I was hooked and couldn’t turn it off repeat. Also, one of my favorite music videos in the past few years.

Another underrated aspect of this album are the skits with Brother Jervel. First off, he’s hilarious. Second, it’s a unique way of bringing their hip-hop influence into country music. Finally, they support the overall theme ‘you can take the boy from the country but you can’t take the country out of the boy.’

In a year that featured a number of fantastic album releases, I would be remiss if I didn’t reveal my honorable mentions: Center Point Road – Thomas Rhett, Real Friends – Chris Janson and Heartache Medication – Jon Pardi.

 

Kristina Callahan, Contributing Writer

Pick: Different ‘Round Here – Riley Green

Pure country is what comes to mind when I first heard the album Different ‘Round Here by Riley Green. I had high expectations after Green’s “There Was This Girl.” There are tracks similar to that like “In Love by Now” and “Same Old Song,” but it’s the deep yet simple songs like “I Wish Grandpas Never Died” and “Hard to Leave” that really sold me on this album.

“And I wish even cars had truck beds / And every road was named Copperhead / And coolers never run out of cold Bud Light / And I wish high school home teams never lost / And back road drinkin’ kids never got caught / And I wish the price of gas was low and cotton was high / I wish honky tonks didn’t have no closing time / And I wish grandpas never died”

I love an artist who’s not only a performer but a songwriter and that’s exactly what Green is. He co-wrote all of the 14 tracks on the album and even gave writing credit to both his grandfathers, who he wrote “I Wish Grandpas Never Died” about. He sings about love, family, hometown friends which almost every country fan can relate to.

Jeremy Chua, Contributing Writer

Pick: MagnoliaRandy Houser

It perhaps is no surprise that one of the most underrated albums emerges as one of my top favorite country records of this past year. Randy Houser has an incredible way of blending his powerhouse (and also smooth) vocals and the genres lines of country and soul together to a perfect musical concoction. Highlights include “No Good Place To Cry,” “What Whiskey Does (feat. Hillary Lindsey),” “Running Man” and the Lucie Silvas duet, “Our Hearts.” However, the best song on this album has to be “No Stone Unturned.”

With lyrics that everyone can relate to on this roller-coaster journey of life and a great hook of a chorus (“no stone unturned, no turn unstoned”), I would boldly declare this song as one of Houser’s career highlights. If you haven’t checked this record out, you need to. And if you haven’t since him live yet, you also need to. Get ready to be blown away, I know I was.

 

Erin Crosby, Contributing Writer

Pick: What You See Is What You Get – Luke Combs

Luke Comb’s What You See Is What You Get was released last month and is the perfect addition to his earlier album themes of both good-time party vibes and lovey-dovey ballads. This sophomore release opens with “Beer Never Broke My Heart” which is a fun, upbeat track devoted to loving beer and its constant loyalty despite other setbacks. For instance, the lyric “a couple beautiful girls tell me goodbye/ trucks break down and dogs run off” acts as examples to solidify the argument that beer is one of the few creations worthy of relying on. To quote Combs, “long neck, ice cold beer never broke my heart”.

Rightfully so, there are several tracks that take on more heartfelt, sentimental tones, such as “Even Though I’m Leaving”, “New Every Day”, “Dear Today” and “Better Together”. This is where Combs stands out from the rest of the genre. The raspy, hardcore tone stripped down to a subtle instrument backdrop and honest, poetic lyrics is simply an addictive “match made up in heaven”; a lyric from “Better Together”, arguably the most played song on the What You See Is What You Get collection. This track closes the album and establishes Combs’ songwriting abilities, with credit to Dan Isbell and Randy Montana who together created this metaphorically dense piece.

There are two collaborations within this album, which is new for Combs, though it came at an appropriate time in his career and not a minute too soon. Eric Church plays a role in “Does To Me” while Brooks and Dunn put down vocals on “1,2 Many”. These tracks are successful in the feel-good song that usually fits into the male country song partnerships. Church and Combs mesh well together so much so that I wouldn’t mind the special guest to have a more evident vocal presence. The same goes for “1,2 Many”, Brooks and Dunn are introduced late in the song without giving the listeners a sense of the chemistry between the two acts. Still, a great addition to the album that breaks up the continuity of the seventeen track production.

What You See Is What You Get is a great cluster of songs from Combs and is a step in the right direction so early on in his career, definitely an artist to pay attention to if this level of artistry is achieved after only a couple of years in the industry.

Alexa Ebner, Contributing Writer

Pick: A Very Kacey Christmas – Kacey Musgraves

When I think of country music in 2019, I think of discovering Kacey Musgraves’ music and falling in love with her as an artist! I’ve spent the last 9 months, since “Golden Hour” won Album of the Year at the Grammys exploring her past and present music.

What better way to close off the year than Musgraves releasing a Christmas special, The Kacey Musgraves Christmas Show, which premiered on Amazon Prime Video on Friday, 11/29. Alongside the Amazon special, Kacey re-released an updated version of her Christmas album from 2016, A Very Kacey Christmas. This album includes interludes from the show, in addition to the music, making it especially entertaining and unique.

dir=”auto”>Musgraves invites an exciting array of collaborators to join her for both old and new songs. My favorite is a new song on the album called “Glittery”, performed by Musgraves and Troye Sivan. This love song uses a holiday take to describe the feeling of ‘butterflies’ towards your significant other. The song feels magical and evokes the holiday spirit.

Other highlight guest performances include Camila Cabello, who joins Musgraves for “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” and Lana Del Ray, who helps sing the classic Christmas ballad, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”. One of the most emotional moments of the album is when Musgraves sings her original song, “Christmas Makes Me Cry.” On this tune, Musgraves sings about feeling sad emotions during a time where everyone helps seems to be happy.

The show and the accompanying album is eclectic, joyful, and brings you into the holiday spirit. I feel like I’m in a dreamy winter wonderland when I listen, especially after I’ve had the chance to watch the songs come to life visually.
I’m hoping for more new music from Musgraves in the new year!

Julia Grubbs, Contributing Writer 

Pick: Rivers – King Calaway

From their first show ever in front of an audience in New York City (put on by New York Country Swag), to opening for Garth Brooks, playing the Grand Ole Opry, and releasing their first album, 2019 has been an exciting year for King Calaway.  And they definitely don’t disappoint.

This band works so hard, and seems to have a blast doing it. Rivers is an album I keep on repeat now, never getting tired of the beautiful harmonies and interesting arrangements. “Rivers” is probably my favorite on the album, with such a cool rhythm to jam to. “World for Two” and “I Do” have a bit more laid back feel, that is great background music, or a love song, if you’re looking for it. “Driver’s Seat” picks it up again for an awesome song for a drive on the open road. Their cover of “Love the One You’re With” is such a cool new spin on the classic.  The vocals show the band’s true talent and individuality.

Whether you want to jam or chill, Rivers gives you all you need. The band is finding their voice, and I think they definitely have a lot to say. If they did all this in 2019, I can’t wait to see what’s in store for them in 2020.

 

Autumn Haile, Contributing Writer

Pick: GIRL – Maren Morris

It always feels impossible to pick an album of the year when there is so much amazing music coming out of Nashville. However, the first release that came to mind when I looked back at 2019 was Maren Morris’ GIRL. In what Nashville could call the “year of the women,” this album just about sums up what it means to be a woman in this crazy world right now.

From “A Song For Everything,” which takes me back to every melody that is connected to a memory, to the honest and heartbreaking title track, “GIRL” — it’s by far one of the most cohesive, emotional, and well-written albums of the year. A perfect listen from start to finish.

 

Nicole Piering, Contributing Writer

Pick: Ocean – Lady Antebellum

Although there were a ton of great albums released in 2019 that I’ve had on repeat, my favorite is probably Lady Antebellum’s, Ocean. I’ve been a huge fan of Lady A since the beginning of their career, and the best part about this album was seeing them return to their roots as a trio.

The album is full of the country songs and stellar harmonies that made them a superstar group and I couldn’t be a bigger fan of it. Over the years, Lady A has sampled with solo projects and different sounds, but this album is them in their wheelhouse on songs like “Ocean,” “What If I Never Get Over You,” “Be Patient With My Love,” and the up-tempo, “You Can Do You.” On top of all of that, there’s a collaboration with Little Big Town on “The Thing That Wrecks You” that’s absolutely magical.

 

Pick: Center Point Road – Thomas Rhett

It was very hard to pick a favorite album of 2019, but Spotify doesn’t lie, and TR’s latest project was my most-played for a million reasons. I’ve been a fan of his since the beginning, but this album seemed to let fans into his life like never before. Every track tells not just a story about his life, but reminds us that even though his lyrics are uniquely his, we can all relate to the sentiments he describes.

From the love songs about his wife Lauren like “Notice”, “Look What God Gave Her” and “Blessed” (they are the definition of couple goals) to the picture he paints of living a simple life away from the spotlight in “That Old Truck” and “Center Point Road”, the album takes you on a journey. Full of ballads, fun upbeat anthems, and killer collaborations, this project definitely defined my year. It’s tough to pick a favorite song, but I can’t listen to “Remember You Young” without getting chills no matter how many times I hear it, and seeing it live twice, once during his “Very Hot Summer Tour” and again at the CMA Awards were unforgettable (pun intended).

Pick: Center Point Road – Thomas Rhett
With so many great albums of the year, it was incredibly difficult to choose, especially with Luke Combs releasing a new album, but in the end, Thomas Rhett took the trophy for me. Center Point Road takes the prize because it shows us a very personal side of the singer-songwriter we don’t get to see too often. He not only took us back to his childhood in “Center Point Road” and “That Old Truck,” but he gave us an inside look as what it is like to be a dad.

To be honest, when the first single, “Look What God Gave Her,” was released, I was nervous about the album, but that quickly changed. If you haven’t given it a listen yet, be sure to add it to your playlist ASAP.

Pick:  Center Point Road – Thomas Rhett

My favorite album of 2019 would definitely have to be Thomas Rhett’s “Center Point Road.” In the past, I’ve always thought Thomas Rhett had lovable and catchy songs based off of “Die a Happy Man”, “Life Changes”, and “T-Shirt”, and an adorable family, but never actually took the time to listen to his albums all the way through. Over the summer, I realized it was time for me to stop limiting myself to the same couple of songs that everyone knows by him and actually give his new album a listen, especially after watching the touching video for “Life Changes.”

Some albums take some time to get used to, but being that I really invested myself in actually listening to the lyrics and songs instead of having it on as background music while I looked at other things online, I felt an instant liking towards so many of the songs on Center Point Road. I feel like this album is the perfect balance of nostalgic while at the same time celebrating life and being thankful for everything it is in the current moment.

Songs like “Remember You Young” and “Center Point Road” make me think back to all of the special memories I’ve shared in my younger life, even though I’m only 21, while at the same time, “Don’t Threaten Me with a Good Time” and “Beer Can’t Fix” provide the perfect mix of tailgate friendly summertime songs that fit perfectly right into where I am in life right now, just having turned 21.

“Blessed” and “Things You Do for Love” are the type of songs I want to play at my wedding, with some of the most touching country lyrics I’ve ever heard, and every country music fan knows, there are far too many. Last night, I was surprised to actually find out Thomas Rhett was my Spotify most-streamed artist of the year, which is a huge deal considering I listen to John Mayer almost 24/7. I can’t wait to hear all the music Thomas Rhett will release in future years and hopefully, 2020 will include me seeing him in concert for the first time! (Fingers crossed)

Shanna Vitaliano, Contributing Writer

Pick: Let It Roll– Midland

This year there were so many incredible albums released that picking my favorite one made it very difficult.  However, Midland’s album Let It Roll is traditional, fun, honky-tonking music at its finest.

After seeing Midland live in New York City, I was hooked.  Their album Let It Roll had been released earlier that week, so I was listening to it on repeat.  I love their authenticity and defined style they bring to each track. Their massive hit “Mr. Lonely” set the foundation for the record, and their clever songwriting mixed with their unique twang on some of my favorite tracks like Playboys” and “Let It Roll” proved they really are the best  “21st Century Honky Tonk American Band.”

Brianna Vacca, Contributing Writer

Pick: The Highwomen – The Highwomen

The Highwomen’s self-titled debut released earlier this year influenced me heavily as a country music listener, creator and music journalist. I commend the album’s dynamic steal on family and love while disentangling the stereotypical frame society views women through.

This project embroiders conventional country music aesthetics which tends to be my favorite projects coming out. My favorite tracks on this September release are “If She Ever Leaves Me,” written by one of the female-powerhouse fronts Amanda Shires with husband and fellow bandmate Jason Isbell, featuring Brandi Carlile on lead. Second, “Cocktail And A Song” is another front-runner. I look forward to the supergroup’s impending endeavors.

 

Erica Zisman, Contributing Writer

Pick: k, i’m done – Lacy Cavalier

This year has been a great year for country music. 2019 gave us so much new music from emerging artists, as well as, records from established singers. I went back and forth trying to decide, which album I wanted to highlight as my favorite of 2019, either Christina’s pick, HARDY’s Hixtape Vol. 1 or Lacy Cavalier’s k I’m done. It was a close call, but I went with the latter because I truly believe 2019 was a monumental year for women in country music.

Technically Cavalier’s record was an independent EP release with only six songs, but those six songs are so special. Almost instantly, the songstress had me rooting for her success. I really believe in her talent and her knack for writing vulnerable, personal, yet deeply relatable song lyrics. “Single” and “Cheating on U” are two of the standout tracks off the EP and my personal favorites.

Furthermore, a mark of a good record is one you never get tired of, and k i’m done has that appeal. I cannot wait to see how Cavalier’s career evolves and how her artistry grows, as she moves passed the period of her life in which this record was created from. I can only hope that her connection to her fans and to her music continues with her next project. If you haven’t managed to listen to her just yet, do yourself a favor and listen to the record!

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