Saturday, July 5, 2014

That Nashville Sound’s (First Half of the Year) Best Songs of 2014

If you were on the golf course, a number of 71 would be a great on a scorecard. Think of this list in the same way. This list of 71 songs are each a beautiful artistic shot, just hit by a talented story-telling singer-songwriter instead of a professional golfer. Traditional country, bluegrass, modern country and Americana are blended seamlessly across the list and are all represented well.  While later in the year, we’ll formally count them down from our favorite down to the last one we feel merits some love, this list is broken up into three different categories: Best of the Best, Better than the Rest, and Best of the Rest.

There are going to be many different songs selected from artists that will be new to you for sure and most of the tracks were never released as radio singles. They’re each hand-selected off of albums released this year or were formally released as singles to digital media (like i-Tunes) this year.
Leave us a comment. What do you agree with? Disagree with?  What do you feel like we missed?  Let me present to you That Nashville Sound’s (First Half of the Year) Best Songs of 2014…

Best of the Best:
Emily West- “Made for the Radio”
After being rung through the ringer by Capitol Records Nashville earlier this decade, it would make sense that Miss West would feel like giving the big music labels the finger for not allowing her to follow her muse and sing the music she felt compelled to release. So she set to music one of the most profound statement songs of the year, describing the “vacant black hole hearts” of the label heads that are “f***ing the next star.” The magic of the song isn’t that it’s just a call-out of those she felt did her wrong. It’s a statement that she’s found a new career compass and following it down her own yellow brick road (which just happens to be the name of her own label she’s releasing music on.)  If there’s one song on this Iist that I can implore you to go to i-Tunes and purchase right now, it’s this one right here. It’s passionately compelling and personal songwriting at its very best.

Jason Eady- “Daylight and Dark”
Born in the Mississippi Delta, Eady has never been able to shake that soulful sound that flows through his veins like the river so famous down there. Even a short stint in Nashville where the powers that be wanted to commercialize his sound couldn’t have an effect. Now the Texas transplant has found his natural home and this deep and dark story born out of lost love just rips your heart out in the very best of ways. The title track of his outstanding album utilizes incredibly mellow production that only takes a backseat to a lyrical beatdown on the heart.

Chris Stapleton- “Go ‘N Down”
Unless you’re a fan of the first two Steeldrivers albums or accidently came across a little indie album from an act called the Jompson Brothers, Stapleton’s impact on your consciousness will be only from his radio release of “What Are You Listening To?” this last year that dented the charts.On “Go ‘N Down”, his magical throaty vocals deliver a fantastic western-themed story song that was on Kix Brooks’ soundtrack for Ambush at Dark Canyon, a straight to DVD/Blu-Ray movie released in January of this year. The delivery is fantastic, the lyrics are magic, describing” looking for redemption down the barrel of a gun. Go’n down where no mercy can be found and you pay for what you done with your soul.” Penned by Kix Brooks himself.

Eric Paslay- “Less Than Whole”
Outside of the Peach Pickers, the songwriter most in demand just might be this tall lanky redhead, Eric Paslay. This track was the standout on a strong debut album and deals with the challenges of self-esteem and the pressure of living with a feeling “of being less than whole.” It’s a great message song and Paslay showcases his great vocals on the track.

Eric Church- “Cold One”
On a roller-coaster album with its fair share of hits and misses, Church delivers a rousing one for the ages on “Cold One.” It’s a simple message: An analogy of his girlfriend stealing his cold beer and walking away with his heart. But it’s the production on this one that steals the show. The guitar work at the chorus is a main focus and the whole thing descends into jam chaos at the end. And yet somehow it works perfect.

Ronnie Dunn- “I Wished I Still Smoked Cigarettes”
If you haven’t heard this one, be rest-assured it is anything but a commercial for Marlboro. Dunn plaintively performs a great Lori McKenna co-penned track that longs for the days in which he could do things before consequences, before he knew better. This was released to radio as a single, further proving that “the FM machine” is overlooking quality contemplative songwriting for stuff that generically appeals to the masses. This is a great one that only adds to Dunn’s long legacy in country music.

Radney Foster- “Not In My House”
Foster used a profound conversation about a fellow student using a slur in his daughter’s 5th grade class as fodder on this powerful song that would eventually include references to racist and homophobic slurs as well. “I’m going to sing for th souls who get kicked around/ Words aren’t a weapon just to put you down.” For a southern man who witnessed what hate could produce first-hand, it’s a delivery and message that is all the more believable when Foster has earned some of that grey hair that has adorned his head for so long.

Don Williams- “I’ll Be Here in the Morning”
Country music’s “Gentle Giant” and one of the newest Country Music Hall of Fame members proves he’s still as powerful of a deliveryman with this cover of a 1968 Townes Van Zandt song. It’s a throwback in a modern way… which I guess is saying that it is as classic as anything he’s released over the years.

Better Than the Rest:
Cody Johnson- “Never Go Home Again”
The Whistles & the Bells- “Transistor Resistor”
Ray Benson & Willie Nelson- “It Ain’t You”
Jason Eady- “Whiskey & You”
Deana Carter- “I Know Better”
Dierks Bentley- “Damn These Dreams”
Matt Andersen- “So Easy”
David Nail- “The Secret”
David Nail (featuring Little Big Town)- “When They’re Gone (Lyle County)”
Reagan Boggs & Dave Coleman- “You Deserve Better”
Sara Evans (featuring Vince Gill)- “Better Off”
Jimmy Rankin- “Build This House”
Johnny Cash- “Out Among the Stars”
Becky Schlegel- “Opry Lullaby”
Rodney Crowell- “Famous Last Words of a Fool in Love”
Sunny Sweeney- “Bad Girl Phase”
Clare Bowen- “Come Find Me”
Dolly Parton- “Try”
Bryan White- “What I Already Know”
Jessica Andrews- “The Clown”
Lee Ann Womack- “Send It on Down”
Best of the Rest:
Jason Eady- “Lonesome Down and Out”
Los Lonely Boys- “Blame it on Love”
Jimbo Mathus & the Tri-State Coalition- “Tallahatchie”
Curtis Grimes- “Better Off”
Rhonda Vincent- “Bright Lights and Country Music”
Rhonda Vincent- “When the Grass Grows Over Me”
Cody Johnson- “Cowboy Like Me”
Cody Johnson- “Holes”
Eli Young Band- “What Does”
Randy Houser- “High in the Saddle (Can’t Kill a Memory)”
Rosanne Cash- “World of Strange Design”
David Crosby- “The Clearing”
Dierks Bentley- “Riser”
Reagan Boggs- “Appalachia”
Reagan Boggs- “Seldom Do”
Matt Andersen- “What Will You Leave”
Don Williams- “The Answer”
Don Williams- “Stronger Back”
Ronnie Milsap and Mandy Barnett- “You Make Me Feel Brand New”
Tattletale Saints- “Molly”
Tebey- “Music Man”
Tebey- “Wake Me Up”
Dirty Guvnahs- “Ever Start To Wonder”
Dirty Guvnahs- “Canyons”
Jimmy Rankin (featuring Alison Krauss)- “Flames”
Johnny Cash (featuring Minnie Pearl)- “If I Told You Who It Was”
NickelCreek- “Hayloft”
Ronnie Dunn- “You Should See You Now”
Charles Esten and Lennon and Maisy- “Believing”
Clare Bowen- “Black Roses”
Kelsey Waldon- “High In Heels”
Hunter Hayes- “Invisible”
Kira Isabella- “Quarterback”
Dolly Parton- “Lay Your Hands On Me”
Miranda Lambert- “Babies Makin’ Babies”
Miranda Lambert- “Priscilla”
Miranda Lambert- “Another Sunday in the South”
Lee Ann Womack- “Sleeping with the Devil”
Radney Foster- “California”
Brad Paisley- “River Bank”
Corb Lund- “Counterfeit Blues”
Kenny Chesney- “American Kids”

1 comment:

  1. I already bought the Emily West song. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that you have it at #1. I would add Wendy Colonna's "Dirty Things", Jamie O'Neal's "Wide Awake", Jennifer Nettles' "Me Without You", Brandy Clark's "Get High" and "His Hands", the latter with Jennifer Nettles, and any song from Gary Burr's 2014 album Juggler's Logic.