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