Since I already gave you a run down of the books I was reading in 2016, I figured I should also share some of my favorite music. This wasn’t intentional, but coincidentally these all fall in a country genre. It was quite the year in country music! This definitely doesn’t all the music I stumbled upon this year from artists older work it took me too long to find and I’d been missing out on, or my obsessive playing of old favorites.
Maren Morris Hero. Maren Morris was definitely my favorite musical discovery of 2016. You might recall the post I typed after hearing “80’s Mercedes” on satellite radio during our drive back from Key West to Tampa last March. (And I definitely thought to myself “this is what I’m missing out on?!”) Soon after, I heard “My Church” and then of course I was chomping at the bit for her whole album to hit in June. I still buy CDs, and hers was steady on repeat for quite a while. She has such a soulful voice, and raw relatable lyrics. “Wish I Was” and “Once” just get me every time. There’s a song for every emotion, and I sing along to all of them. I cannot wait to see her live for the first time next month in February! And I can’t wait to see what she does next. There’s a Crossroads special on CMT she did with Alicia Keys, that was really fun to watch.
Caitlyn Smith Starfire I heard Caitlyn Smith on Bobby Bone’s Podcast, and I was just like oh my goodness how have I been missing out on this girl for so long?! Of course, songs she’s written have been sung by plenty of stars, but I think she’s a star herself. “This Town Is Killing Me” and “Before You Called Me Baby” kick me in the gut. Like, I’ve found myself holding back tears on airplanes listening to her music. I hope that we hear more from her, and I hope that people keep listening to her because I feel like Caitlyn Smith puts her heart and soul into every one of her songs, each note she breathes and that’s something special.
Walker Hayes Good Shit (Vol 1)/Break the Internet (Vol 2) When an artist can inspire laughter, tears, nostalgia, and perspective on the same album? You know they’re onto something. Walker Hayes is nothing short of awesome. “Beautiful” makes me think about the past.”The Comedian” makes me cry. “Layla’s Stars” pulls on my heart strings. “Dollar Store” makes me laugh. “Halloween” I play on repeat. All the songs just take you through a gamut of emotions. This is another album I found myself playing on repeat on public transportation on my travels this year. Hayes has this music on his website to download for FREE, so what’s stopping you?
Ryan Hurd Oh man. Ryan Hurd. We already knew his talent from some of the hit songs he wrote (“Lonely Tonight” ?!), but man he’s got a voice too. I didn’t find out about Hurd until his EP had already been pulled from the internet, (ugh crushing I know!) But then started releasing one song at a time to Spotify. Each song is so great. “Love In a Bar” is definitely one of my favorites. “City Girl” is fantastic, so is “We Do Us” and “Hold You Back.” They all have a little bit different vibe, but I like the way they showcase his versatility as an artist. Check out the videos he’s released that are like “get to know you” and about his craft. They’re so artistically shot, gorgeous scenery, intimate setting and every word counts. He just signed to Sony this week, and I cannot wait to hear more from him. (He’s opening for MM at the Athens, GA show! And he’ll be on the Home Team tour with Thomas Rhett & Kelsea Ballerini!)
Dierks Bentley Black This album actually came with my purchase of a concert ticket to Dierks show in Panama City Beach.The concert was awesome, and so is this whole album. Literally all of the songs have really hit me at some point. I feel like I find myself with “Can’t Be Replaced” stuck in my head a lot. But I was initially pretty dang obsessed with “I’ll Be the Moon” written by Ryan Hurd and featuring Maren Morris. “Freedom” is a fun one (love the PC shout out!) “Pick Up” “Black” they’re all so emotionally driven. Also, “Somewhere On a Beach” was one of my go to songs on that road trip to get to Key West. I’m a fan of the whole, movin’ on theme of that one. I think Dierks Bentley was really onto something with the duet with Elle King on “Different For Girls.” This whole album felt like it was full of surprises, and totally fresh.
Jake Owen American Love I figured I would really get into this Jake Owen album, when “American Country Love Song” was such a staple on the radio, and I was singing along every time. When it finally hit, I found myself loving all the songs. “After Midnight” makes me laugh because it reminds me of what my parents used to tell me when I was younger (and there’s probably a hint of truth to that.) “LAX” is so freakin’ clever, and it makes me think of Penny Lane – just the epitome of “cool girl.” “If He Ain’t Gonna Love You” with Chris Stapleton is top notch. Actually, they all are. The whole album has a great vibe, and I really love the cover art – that VW van – I want it.
Miranda Lambert The Weight of These Wings Miranda’s long-awaited album did not disappoint. I’m still combing through all these songs. (24 of them!) She worked with twelve different song writers, and there is so much grit in this album. You can feel how real she’s being through the songs, everything laid bare – mistakes, love, friendship, life – it’s all on the line. I just think it’s something really beautiful. “Vice” was the first released single, and I cannot tell you how many times I listened to it on a repeat. “We Should Be Friends” is just fantastic, and witty. “Pink Sunglasses” not only makes me want to wear a pair, while I belt along but it’s just so catchy and feels like she knows her audience. “Runnin’ Just In Case” quite frankly makes me feel like someone punched me in the stomach, but in the way where you breathe and say “ok, someone gets it.” I can’t wait for her to tour with this album.
Keith Urban Ripchord Okay, Keith Urban does it every single time. Every album. This one wasn’t any different – just hit it straight out of the park. I’m sorry to say I didn’t see his tour last year because I can only imagine how phenomenal it was. “Blue Ain’t Your Color” is definitely one of my favorite songs of the year. “Break on Me” is beautiful, and obviously so many things can make me cry and this is one of them. I’m a big fan of “Wasted Time.” I also love the metaphors in “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16.” Keith Urban is just a class act talent.
Because this list could go on forever, I’ll share a few more of my faves across the board. Of course, I’m leaving out about a million artists and albums because it’s impossible to add them all, but it was a great year for music. Drake gave us Views, the other Drake (White) gave us Spark, Gaga gave us Joanne, Brandy Clark Big Day in a Small Town, Bon Iver 22, a Million, Dawes We’re All Gonna Die, Margot Price Midwest Farmer’s Daughter, and of course Beyonce Lemonade.