Looking back, there's some amazing songs that moved us more than all the others:
2016 - Jack Ingram - "The Sailor and the Sea"
2015- Chris Stapleton - "Tennessee Whiskey"
2014 - Emily West - "Made for the Radio"
2013 - Kacey Musgraves - "Follow Your Arrow"
2012 - Waylon Jennings - "I Do Believe"
2011 - Ronnie Dunn - "Cost of Livin'"
2010 - Joe Diffie - "Route 5 Box 109"
2009 - Dean Brody - "Cattleman's Gun"
2008 - Jamey Johnson - "In Color"
2007 - Miranda Lambert - "Gunpowder and Lead"
1. Sunny Sweeney – “Bottle By My Bed” - What stands out as her most astounding musical achievement is the heart-wrenching, emotional powerhouse, honest and autobiographical "Bottle By My Bed." Written about her battle with miscarriage and difficulty conceiving, it easily shows how tragedy can transform a piece of art and give it a substance filled with pain, guilt and regret that oozes from every pore of this song. It makes you ache listening to this song.
3. Drew Kennedy – “When I'll Miss You Most” – My family sat around listening to this track earlier this week and had a fascinating experience. This tale of loss and looking back on yesterday was interpreted by my wife as lost love. I envisioned looking back on an old town you were from. My son had the protagonist looking back at his youth. Kennedy says it's a story extrapolated from a 80-something widowed man going down his drive to pick up his newspaper thinking about his wife. That just might be the genius of the track- so brilliantly and poetically pieced together that the listener can immerse themselves in it and find their own story.
6. Brent Cobb – “Ain't A Road Too Long” – Swampy. Groovy. Soulful. This might have the best guitar riff of anything we've listened to all year long. Cobb's unique vocals are a callback to the best of 1970's southern rock icons like the CDB and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Terrific stuff.
7. Radney Foster - "Belmont and Sixth" - “For me, the goal of writing is always to touch that one person so much that they wonder how I got a peek into their living room–how I understood exactly what they felt,” says Foster about his process. “More than just rhyming or having a pretty melody, I try to express a part of the human condition that can make someone want to laugh, cry, make love, or all of the above.” One of our favorite tracks of the year comes from this project with “Belmont and Sixth.” It’s a heartbreaking look at the plight of a homeless vet and the reaction he gets (and doesn’t get) from a daily passer-byer.
9. Lee Brice - "Boy" - Brice's stint on Curb Records has been a steady output of songs of content and consequence. "Boy" continues this streak. In this observation on fatherhood, he sends a dedication to his son filled with advice and subtle reminders that it's all been done before with Brice himself. It's a loving tribute that anyone with a child of their own will find common ground with and personalize.
10. Chris Stapleton - "Midnight Train To Memphis" - Yes, we know this is a cover of his own song with the Steeldrivers. But this is a whole new Stapleton this time around. With a raucous array of gritty guitars backing him up, he lets his vocal rip through this fantastic rocker.
Cream of the Crop (Top 35):
Chris Stapleton - "Tryin' To Untangle My Mind"
Chris Stapleton - "A Simple Song"
Rhonda Vincent & Daryle Singletary - "Golden Ring" and "After the Fire Is Gone"
Hannah Blaylock - "Fences"
Big & Rich - "My Son" (featuring the Issacs)
Drew Kennedy - "House"
Lee Ann Womack - "The Lonely, The Lonesome & The Gone"
Blake Shelton - "I Lived It"
Dillon Carmichael - "Old Songs Like That"
Will Hoge - "Little Bit of Rust"
Erin Enderlin - "Ain't It Just Like A Cowboy"
Joe Nichols - "We All Carry Something"
Brett Eldredge - "Superhero"
Lee Roy Parnell - "Tied Up and Tangled"
Cadillac Three - "Demolition Man"
Emily West - "Symphonies"
Hannah Blaylock - "Should've Been"
Chris Young - "Where I Go When I Drink"
Lee Ann Womack - "Mama Lost Her Smile"
Carly Pearce - "I Need A Ride Home"
Granger Smith - "When The Good Guys Win"
Donna Ulisse - "A Little Past Lonely"
Tony Jackson – “They Lived It Up”
Will Hoge - "The Grand Charade"
Will Hoge - "17"
Parmalee - "Savannah"
Caroline Jones - "Country Girl"
Cadillac Three - "American Slang"
Hannah Blaylock - "Bandit Queen"
Big & Rich - "Freedom Road"
Midland - "Out of Sight"
Jerrod Niemann - "God Made A Woman"
Drew Kennedy - "Cream and Sugar"