How about the month of July? Or I should rather say how about Jason Isbell, Alan Jackson and Ashley Monroe? These three artists dominated the month of July with their brand new albums because outside of these three major releases there wasn’t a ton of great new music to talk about. But hey these three albums were more than enough to keep me satisfied for the month. We’re set for a lot more releases coming up in August. But we’ll get to those at another time. For now let’s look back on what I considered the absolute best songs from the month of July.
- Jason Isbell – “24 Frames” – The absolute gem off of arguably the best album of the year tops this list for me. Isbell’s new album Something More Than Free is a fantastic listen from start to finish and it’s only gotten better the more I’ve listened to it. Despite all of the great songs, the one that sticks out most to me and resonates with me the most is “24 Frames.” It’s a song about life so rooted in reality. In addition it’s catchy and the instrumentation for it is flawless. By the way it sounds just as good live too, as I highly recommend you see Isbell live, as it made me appreciate this album even more.
- Jason Isbell – “Something More Than Free” – I debated back and forth for a while on these top two songs’ placements, but I gave “24 Frames” ultimately by a hair. The album title track is pretty damn good itself and I’m surprised I haven’t seen more praise for it. It’s a beautiful song that shows off Isbell’s vocal and songwriting ability.
- Alan Jackson – “The One You’re Waiting On” – There’s a reason country music fans were waiting in anticipating for months for July 17 to come, as new albums from Isbell and Alan Jackson will certainly do this. And they definitely lived up to hype. Jackson’s new album Angels & Alcohol was almost just as good as Isbell’s and there’s a reason these two battled it out for the top spot on the Billboard Top Country Albums this past week. The standout to me of the album was “The One You’re Waiting On,” one of those songs you know is just another instant classic from Jackson. Only an artist like Jackson can pull off this type of song with such grace and respect.
- Alan Jackson – “Gone Before You Met Me” – Jackson sings about the importance of family to him in this song. Again like the top two Isbell songs, these two Jackson songs are pretty much equally good in my eyes. This song reminds us there are still country artists out there not afraid to sing about family, something missing from mainstream country radio.
- Ashley Monroe – “Has Anybody Ever Told You” – I didn’t enjoy Ashley Monroe’s new album The Blade as much as I wanted to enjoy it, but it’s still a good album nonetheless. My big problem with it was that it had too many songs trying to be radio friendly, instead of staying in Monroe’s traditional wheelhouse. One of the songs that did though and was my favorite of the album is “Has Anybody Ever Told You.” It’s a tender love song that allows Monroe to shine her brightest.
- Will Hoge – “Still A Southern Man” – Will Hoge is not one to shy away from singing controversial songs and “Still A Southern Man” is another example. The amount of conviction and attitude behind the lyrics of this song, along with the rollicking guitars throughout it, thoroughly impressed me. We need more bold songs like this one. (This song is currently not on Spotify, which is why it isn’t on the playlist below)
- Jason Isbell – “Speed Trap Town” – Isbell’s new album is a pretty happy one for the most part, but you knew there would be at least one tear jerker on it and that song is “Speed Trap Town.” The storytelling skills of Isbell through his lyrics is on full display here and it’s simply a song you need to hear for yourself.
- Alan Jackson – “You Can Always Come Home” – The opener to Jackson’s Angels & Alcohol is a song many parents and their kids leaving home can all connect with. Jackson knows how to perfectly frame these songs to get the right amount of emotion out of you and “You Can Always Come Home” is yet another example of it.
- Ashley Monroe – “If The Devil Don’t Want Me” – This Chris Stapleton co-write was the other highlight of The Blade for me. This song is traditional country music in every way.
- Jason Isbell – “How To Forget” – The last song to round out my top ten is a fourth Isbell song, “How To Forget.” What I love the most about this song is the brilliant instrumentation. This is the shining moment for Isbell’s band, The 400 Unit, on Something More Than Free. As I said in my review, this is band you absolutely need to see in-person, as they’re quite underrated.
- Rick Elliot’s new EP, West of the Rockies, just came out and I didn’t get a chance to really listen to it enough to consider it for this month’s top ten. But we’ll have a review on it soon.
- Ronnie Dunn – “Ain’t No Trucks In Texas” – There were too many strong songs this month for Dunn to make the top ten.
- Jason Isbell – “To A Band That I Loved”
- Alan Jackson – “When God Paints,” “I Leave A Light On” and “Angels & Alcohol”
- Ashley Monroe – “The Blade” & “Mayflowers”