April had a huge amount of album releases this year! And for the most part, the quality matched the quantity of songs. Many great albums from start to finish and several albums with some strong songs make for a difficult time when compiling a top ten list. While the following list is mostly subjective to my personal taste, if you believe I overlooked a song for my top ten or honorable mentions, please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts below. There’s a chance I haven’t listened to everything released in April, though I sure did try.
- “’Til It Does” by Randy Rogers & Wade Bowen – When Randy and Wade sing about having standards over hits, this song is the perfect example of that. A broken heart can just sneak up and hit you at any moment. There’s no way to prepare for it, and you won’t know it until it happens. The message is simple, the delivery is flawless, and the instrumentation is beautiful. “’Til It Does” is the country music standard.
- “Dress Blues” by Zac Brown Band – “Dress Blues” is a tragically beautiful song. Jason Isbell paints the perfect picture with his lyrics, and the way he tells the story conveys the sorrow of the situation is as heartbreaking as it is wonderful. I think the Zac Brown Band’s cover is an excellent version of the song and does justice to Isbell and his original cut. Not to mention, Jimmy De Martini’s fiddle solo mid-song is breathtaking. No question that this is the best track on JEKYLL + HYDE.
- “Standards” by Randy Rogers & Wade Bowen – This song alone exponentially increased everyone’s excitement for Hold My Beer Vol. 1. A lighthearted poke at record executives who pine for one big hit, and a fun critique at the mainstream country climate. This song sums up the whole album, and truly sums up the careers of both Rogers and Bowen.
- “Second Hand Heart” by Dwight Yoakam – The title track of Yoakam’s new album is far and away my favorite. It was hard for me to pick just one from Second Hand Heart because the album is packed with great song after great song. Country and rock blends nicely on this track, and Yoakman’s vocal delivery is excellent.
- “They Don’t Make ‘Em Like They Used To” by Will Hoge – Hoge teamed up with Texas songwriter Sean McConnell to write this song about a son trying to live up to his dad’s hardworking legacy. The linear way they compare the father’s working life to the son’s is great, and the piano in the melody is the icing on the cake. This song is a much more authentic version of Hoge’s hit “Strong” and is the top track on Small Town Dreams.
- “Just Like Them Horses” by Reba McEntire – Reba sings of a loved one passing away in this heartbreaking song. The lyrics describe the goodbye in a wonderful way, and Reba’s vocal delivery knocks this out of the park. The best song, in my opinion, on Love Somebody. (Thanks to reader Scott for enlightening me on the song’s background.)
- “El Dorado” by Randy Rogers & Wade Bowen – There’s something to be said for a great cowboy song, and that’s what “El Dorado” is. Bowen and Rogers detail the old cowboy’s story with great imagery and feeling. Wade sings most of the song, but when Randy chimes in for the last verse and chorus, it adds more sorrow to stinging words of the cowboy’s final goodbye. “El Dorado” also features a great musical outro of guitars, fiddles, and steel guitars that you can’t help but love.
- “Man Of Constant Sorrow” by Dwight Yoakam – Yoakam’s rocking version of this timeless classic is fantastic! The guitars carry more of an old-time rock and roll sound, but the song is nothing but country.
- “Bittersweet” by Zac Brown Band – JEKYLL + HYDE saw the band from Georgia dipping into genre after genre, but this track is an evolution of the Zac Brown Band sound. A song about preparing to say goodbye to an ill loved one, and the acoustic instrumentation building to a roaring climax is a great compliment to lyrics. Also, Zac Brown’s vocal delivery is awesome.
- “Jayton and Jill” by Zane Williams – A lovely story song off Williams’ Texas Like That. Jayton and Jill meet on a dark highway in the rain, and together they ride the storm out at a local diner while they talk. The night sparks a friendship that lasts a lifetime, and a friendship that saves both their lives. This is an example of great story telling in country music.
- “Guitar or a Gun” by Will Hoge.
- “Dreams of Clay” by Dwight Yoakam.
- “Sympathy” and “Still Think About You” by William Clark Green from his album Ringling Road.
- “White Flag” by John Moreland from his album High on Tulsa Heat.
- “Suffer in Peace” by Tyler Farr from his album Suffer in Peace.
Find all 16 songs in the Spotify playlist below. And I’d love to hear some of your favorite songs from the month.