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!
Pick: “Before You” – Drew Baldridge
Songwriters: Chris Lucas, Drew Baldridge, Preston Brust
Pick: “Tired of Flying” – Ryan Kinder feat Brandy Clark
Songwriters: Jen Schott, Luke Sheets, Ryan Kinder
I’ve been a fan of every song that Ryan Kinder has released for the past six years. His voice is unmatched, it’s unique and his storytelling abilities are what country music is all about. Recently, he announced he will be dropping an album full of features, and “Tired Of Flying” is the second track previewed from his new project.
In a time of such anxiety and uncertainty, it’s normal to feel completely drained and as a mom, I have felt so tired this past year. The lyrics of “Tired Of Flying” hit me so hard, when Brandy Clark comes in and her gentle voice sings “Does the sun wish it could just stop shining? it cuts deep.
“As I look out the window, I wonder, where the sparrow, goes to find shelter from the storm / Does that blue-grey sky get tired of crying, does that lonely bird get tired of flying?”
Being a mother is most days, a very thankless job that comes with a burden and obstacles that many do not ever get to see. I’m grateful for the refuge that music brings me, the healing, and country songs like this one that really showcases the power of lyrics and how important a song can be.
Pick: “To Be Loved By You” – Parker McCollum
Songwriters: Parker McCollum, Rhett Akins
I’m not entirely sure what it is I love about this song. I do really like the lyrics and the story McCollum tells, but I think what draws me in most is the melody and his vocal delivery. It’s country, but it feels kind of desperate and pleading in that indie-rock way which is something I often gravitate towards. “Well I’ve been running as fast as I can/And you’ll never get over what you can’t understand/Pissed off, hanging up the telephone/Forever ain’t fair, I’m heading home”. It’s exciting to see a Texas artist blowing up the way McCollum is, and if this new track is any indication, I can’t wait for what’s next.
Pick: “Home Sweet” – Russell Dickerson
Songwriters: Russell Dickerson, Charles Kelley, Casey Brown
For me, “Home Sweet” was the stand-out song from Russell Dickerson’s latest record, Southern Symphony. Even if you believe the “home is where you are” message is becoming a cliché, the images Dickerson describes (and the pictures in his new video) make their relationship feel real, relatable, and extra special. One lyric I found interesting was: Went from all-inclusive margaritas in Malibu / To prayin’ we could pay rent this month. It is funny that couples who are barely scraping by pay for this expensive wedding and honeymoon. In a way, it is a sign of real love, like ‘memories we share are more important than finances’ – it’s cute. The song’s catchy chorus also makes it almost impossible not to sing along to.
Pick: “I Bet You Wanna Know” – Priscilla Block
Songwriters: Priscilla Block, Sarah Jones, Stone Aielli
I first heard of Priscilla Block during one of my late-night Tik Tok scrolling fests and immediately loved her infectious personality and catchy lyrics. Her song “Just About Over You” has been a huge hit and can now be heard on your favorite country radio station and even got her signed to a record label. I was anxious to hear what other music she’d release so cue her follow-up single: “I Bet You Wanna Know.” Where “Just About Over You” is exactly what the title suggests, almost being over someone but then seeing them out, the singer-songwriter’s new song is about having the upper hand and knowing you’re on that person’s mind.
“You just wanna know where I’m at tonight // If I’m all up on someone new I like // Busch Light sippin’, midnight kissin’ // Did it lead us back to my place? // Did he drop me off or did he stay // ‘Til the sun rose? // Did we lose our clothes? // How far we’d go? // I bet you wanna know”
Block has such a fun, carefree edge to her that makes her and her lyrics so relatable. I can’t wait to hear more of what she has up her sleeve in the coming months.
Pick: “California, Missouri” – Kassi Ashton
Songwriters: Shane McAnally, Kassi Ashton, Luke Laird
During Alex Hall’s virtually intimate Six Strings release show, hosted by the singer-songwriter hub of Nashville, The Bluebird Cafe, Kassi Ashton performed a stripped rendition of her 2018 debut single “California, Missouri”. In such a setting, artists are given room to showcase their unfiltered vocals while portraying the sentiment that stemmed the song’s conception through performance. And, the anguish yet tender regard involved in the track then laid out for the viewers, including a small group of musicians surrounding her in the round such as Tenille Townes and Brad Tursi, was palpable.
Lyrically, “California, Missouri” astounds those listeners that, similar to Ashton, feel like the outsider in their own place of birth.
Pick: “Wish For The World” – Ryan Hurd
Songwriters: Aaron Eshuis, Joe Clemmons, Ryan Hurd
When Ryan Hurd released his new song “Chasing After You” with his wife Maren Morris earlier this month, it really made me want to dive back into all of his music. One song that I really loved hearing again was “Wish for the World”. It’s a humbling piece off of Hurd’s Platonic EP about the simple things in life that are sometimes overlooked but ultimately end up having a big impact, even if we don’t know it at the time. This song has always provided a refreshing and much-needed reminder, but the message was particularly nice to hear at a time like this. As I was listening, I couldn’t help but think about the way the meaning of a song can change, or even the memories it can bring back, depending on what stage of life you’re listening to it in.
Pointing out the little things, Hurd mentions the cup of coffee you drink while you’re soaking in the morning, the power of apologies and forgiveness, music, friendship, everything that the Summertime brings, Christmas time, and more. However, the most special thing of all is the love you have for your person, and your ability to give them it.
“A little more starin’ at the stars / A little more sittin’ round the fire / A little less comin’ up with reasons not to chase your heart’s desire / But when it really comes down to it / If just one wish could come true / I wish everyone could find someone to love like I love you”
In terms of lyrical expression, unique sound, artistry, and genuine personality, Ryan Hurd is one of my favorites in music, and the reason for this easily shines through in this song. His live version of “Wish for the World”, which he likes to close his shows with, is featured on his EOM EP. I really love listening to this version because of the way it allows the love he has for his fans and his music to really stand out, which is such a huge part of what this song is about. Especially this past year, Hurd’s music has had an extra special meaning to me ever since I went to his show in Philly last March, not knowing that within the next few days the world as we knew it would shut down. For right now, his music symbolizes the last time my world was normal, and the last concert I’d get to go to for a while. This song, and specifically the live version, takes me back to one great night spent at a small intimate venue, where I got to sing and dance along to one of my favorite artists – my absolute favorite thing to do. Right now, my wish would be to be able to relive that night.
Pick: “Chasing After You” – Maren Morris and Ryan Hurd
Songwriters: Brinley Addington, Jerry Flowers
Ryan Hurd and Maren Morris are two of my favorite artists. I am so happy that this unstoppable duo recorded this beautiful song together. The song has a passionate feel and highlights both of the singer’s vocals, as they switch off between verses. It features distinct guitar licks that make you want to play it over and over. The song details an intense romance that isn’t a straight road. There is also an accompanying music video, which encapsulates the sultry vibe of the song and the story behind it with the muted tones and shots of the two singers holding each other. “Chasing After You” is a gorgeous song, and feels very soothing and comforting to listen to.
Pick: “Just Look At You” – Carson Beyer
Songwriters: Carson Beyer, Sergio Sanchez
I don’t know whether it’s just the winter blues or the fact that it’s been a year and we’re still doing this, but I am finding it harder and harder to keep the mood and spirits high. Sometimes I force myself out of it by pumping some jams and having a little dance party, and others I curl up and wallow. The latter times are when I’ll listen to a song like Carson Beyer’s new “Just Look at You” for all the comfort and heartwarming love I need. Telling the story of when things just don’t go your way, there’s still someone there that sees the beauty in just your being. An intimate love song like this with Beyer’s soothing tones reminds us that everything will be okay, and it rings with the only everlasting truth to get us through: a deep true love. The soft electric guitar encapsulates the deep vibes of winter, but somehow the song seems to warm you like a campfire on a bitter night. And just like that fire, “Just Look at You” provides that light leading the way into the future unknown.
Pick: “Humble” – Ian Munsick
Songwriters: Dave Villa, Ian Munsick, Jamie Kenney
Pick: “Should’ve Known Better” – Carly Pearce
Songwriters: Carly Pearce, Emily Shackleton, Jordan Reynolds
With so many country hits written about love and loss I’m always excited by songs that come at the topic from a different lens. This single, the follow up to ‘Next Girl’ and second off Pearce’s new EP, ’29’ seems from the title like it’ll come from the perspective of the broken-hearted. Instead, the blame alternates throughout between the one who was hurt (‘I should’ve known better’) and the one who did the hearting (‘you should’ve known better’). The melody and descriptive lyrics will resonate with anyone who has been on either side of a tough breakup. I’m very much looking forward to the new era of Pearce’s music!
“You sold me on the fantasy / Damn, and it all felt real to me / Thought you were the man in the photograph / I Should’ve known better than that / I gave you my heart, you let it go to waste / You made me do the leaving and you made me take the blame / Does it make you feel good, to make me feel bad? / Yeah, you should’ve known better than that”
Pick: “29” – Carly Pearce
Songwriters: Josh Osborne, Shane McAnally, Carly Pearce
My pick for February is Carly Pearce’s “29,” the title track off her stellar new album. With true country instrumentation and powerful lyrics, the song is bound to be one of the strongest released in 2021. The self-reflective, banjo-laden track tells the tale of Pearce’s last year in her 20s, which didn’t go quite as planned. Whether you’ve been in similar shoes or not, the song is truly an ode to life not living up to your expectations for it. For Pearce, it focuses heavily on her marriage and subsequent divorce, both of which happened at the age of 29. The chorus sums it up, Pearce lamenting, “But for me, twenty-nine/ Is the year that I got married and divorced/ I held on for dear life, but I still fell off the horse/ From a Miss to a Mrs. / Then the other way around/ The yеar I was gonna live it up/ Now I’m never gonna livе it down.”
Pick: “Common Ground” – Heath Sanders
Songwriters: Heath Sanders, Jay Brunswick, Jeremy Bussey
The second I heard the title-track, “Common Ground” off Heath Sanders’ major-label debut, I knew it would be my song pick for this month. Although the song was not intended to be about the social climate we have all been living in for the last year, it perfectly personifies everything that has been going on in a simple and provoking song. The lyrics, the melody, and the overall vibe of the song is really the perfect introduction to his artistry
“And we’re all on a different journey / We’re all findin’ our own way / We’re all livin’, we’re all learnin’ / From the cradle to the grave / We’re all weak, we’re all strong / We’re all right and we’re all wrong / And when time runs out / We all end up in common ground”
Sanders is an incredible singer-songwriter, and the fact that he chose to put a song like “Common Ground” on his EP proves that he wants to make a difference through music. The power of connection is vital, and music does it best.
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.