Derek’s Top Ten Country & Americana Songs – October 2015

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October proved to be a solid month of country music releases across the board. A couple of mainstream releases from Nashville, two impressive debut records, Canadian Country Music, and Red Dirt Country all contribute to my top ten list this month. It’s nice to have representation of great songs from many of country’s sub genres on a list like this. I could easily have any of my top four songs in the top spot this month; they’re all excellent songs.

  1. “Low All Afternoon” by Hailey Whitters – I ended up choosing this as my top song over the other three simply because I was blown away listening to this song the first time. It’s a third person narration of a woman who’s struggling to move on after her love decided to end their affair and settle down with his wife. Whitters’ lyrics and rhyme schemes are spot on and her vocal delivery is the icing on the cake. “Low All Afternoon” is one of the standouts from Black Sheep.
  2. “Fat and Merry” by Jason Boland & The Stragglers – Boland’s newest album, Squelch, is full of political and social commentary and “Fat and Merry” is my favorite of the bunch. A sarcastic delivery making fun of the suburbia lifestyle combined with a fun, upbeat country production full of fiddles. The lyrics get the point across without getting too far. It took a few listens for this song to grow on me, but “Fat and Merry” has become one of my favorites this year.
  3. “This Damn Memory” by Jake Worthington – Jake Worthington caught a lot of attention on The Voice because of his traditional country approach to the competition, and his long-awaited EP only proves his dedication to making traditional country music. As Josh said, “This heartbreak ballad has everything you want in a country song from the sharp lyrics to the thick pedal steel guitar play.
  4. “One More Hell” by Hailey Whitters – Hailey Whitters wrote this song about coping with the passing of her brother. The personal nature of the song is evident throughout the whole track. Whitters’ lyrics strike a chord that allow the listener to share in the sorrow and confusion of the situation – that’s what great writing can accomplish. “One More Hell” is a quiet, powerful song.
  5. “The Girl You Think I Am” by Carrie Underwood – Carrie Underwood rarely digs into personal songs like this, but this song from a daughter to her parents is a touching song. I think every child wants their parents to be proud of who they’ve become and can connect with the slight vulnerability and doubt that this song brings. My favorite song off Storyteller.
  6. “Heartland Bypass” by Jason Boland & The Stragglers – A love song about finding freedom on the road with a fitting driving production, the parts work together wonderfully. The country instrumentation of steel guitars and fiddles are great on this song, and Boland’s baritone is excellent on this track.
  7. “Washed-Up Rock Star Factory Blues” by Corb Lund – I love the rock ‘n roll blend with country on this song’s production. The guitar lick is fascinating. The unique story of a singer returning to his old factory job work great here, too. Corb Lund is a great writer, and only a great writer could make a subject like this work in a four-minute song. This song stood out the most to me from Things That Can’t Be Undone.
  8. “Christmas in Huntsville” by Jason Boland & The Stragglers – A traditional country tune with an ironic upbeat production underneath some dark lyrics. The story details a man’s last day on death row before he dies as an innocent man for a crime he didn’t commit. This song stood out to me after my first listen of Squelch. Storytelling at it’s finest.
  9. “Choctaw County Affair” by Carrie Underwood – A song written by Jason White, this is sharp murder ballad that Carrie sings so well. I personally think her vocals are great on this track and the production work well to help tell this murderous tale.
  10. “Sunbeam” by Corb Lund – As commenter Curt pointed out to us, Corb Lund wrote this song about the passing of his niece. It has a great bluesy production and is simply a beautiful song.

Honorable Mentions:

  • “Seven Spanish Angels” by Stoney LaRue – In a solid month of releases, I opted not to include any songs off LaRue’s cover album Us Time, but this Willie Nelson cover he sings with Cody Canada is excellent.
  • “Holy Relic Sale” and “Do You Love Me Any Less” by Jason Boland & The Stragglers
  • “Church Bells” by Carrie Underwood
  • “That’s When” by Jake Worthington
  • “Black Sheep” and “Late Bloomer” by Hailey Whitters
  • “Sadr City” and “Weight Of The Gun” by Corb Lund

One thought on “Derek’s Top Ten Country & Americana Songs – October 2015

  1. NoahHibiscusEaton November 2, 2015 / 1:15 pm

    Pretty solid list overall! =)

    The only area I’d contend with are the Carrie Underwood selections. Personally, “Storyteller” did little for me. The album was largely a reprise of the exact same formula that has driven her previous albums: favoring slick rock and roll arrangements and snarl over country ones, favoring bombastic vocal highs over hushed intimate ones, and an overreliance on Miranda Lambert-lite theatrical edginess topically.

    I thought both “Church Bells” and “Choctaw County Affair” unquestionably presented good IDEAS for songs that show signs of promise on the surface. The former presents an intriguing concept while the latter has this nice smoky bluesy snarl to its arrangement. But where both lose me is a lack of urgency and context. They’re more like sketches of fantasies instead of stories. The former feels incomplete because there’s neither any real story or cinematic drama driving it, as does the latter.

    I personally think Underwood is better when she aspirés for more understated vocal interpretations and intimacy. And so it comes to no surprise “The Girl You Think I Am” was easily the standout on the album. I’m not convinced it would have made my Top Ten either due to many great releases this season already, but definitely an Honorable Mention. More of this please, Carrie.

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