Selecting just one song as the top song of a year is never an easy task. Each artist is different, and many different artists have delivered quality songs worthy of being crowned as the song of the year here at Country Perspective. There were three songs that Josh and I ultimately had this narrowed down to for song of the year. Sturgill Simpson’s “Turtles All The Way Down” defined the best country album of the year with its use of classic country sounds with some modern electronic effects to create a truly unique, and equally great, country song. Karen Jonas’ “Oklahoma Lottery” stood out with her haunting delivery of a family stricken by the hardships of a drought. A topic that’s hardly brushed upon in country music, Karen sells the story and captures the appropriate mood with an incredible blues influenced country production. However, those two songs didn’t quite measure up to the third option. Josh and I both agreed that Country Perspective’s 2014 Song of the Year winner is Tami Neilson’s “Cry Over You.”
Tami Neilson has been compared to Patsy Cline, and rightfully so. She has a strong, captivating voice that grabs your attention from the first note. Her new album, Dynamite!, was another favorite album this year, and this song is the standout of that album. On “Cry Over You,” Neilson covers a great area of vocal notes: dropping to the lower spectrum during the verses and soaring to the higher end on the chorus. More importantly, she comfortably and impressively hits every note she touches. Tami doesn’t stretch herself in an attempt to add extra, unnecessary emphasis. From the first listen, I was sold on this vocal performance.
What makes “Cry Over You” stand out the most from its counterparts is the timeless musical production behind Tami. There’s no attempt to modernize the sound here. “Cry Over You” is a simple, historical recreation of the sound that made country music great. The song could have been released 60 years ago and still not sound out of place. Patsy could have sang this song, so could Tammy Wynette, Kitty Wells, Loretta Lynn, the list goes on; simply put: “Cry Over You” is timeless, it’s universal, and it’s brilliant. Tami Neilson deserves every accolade she’s been awarded; she continues to release music at the best quality, and “Cry Over You” is the best example of top-notch quality music.
Congratulations to Tami Neilson for recording and releasing “Cry Over You”: Country Perspective’s 2014 Song of the Year!
As 2014 comes to a close, Country Perspective will be handing out a number of awards to the artists, songs, and albums we covered over the year. We’ll be crowning the best of the best and the worst of the worst. Despite the piles of garbage thrown out to radio this year, there were many great, downright spectacular country songs released for music fans. More times than not, one had to dig deep into the realms of independent country, or even search international lands for great country song. And surprisingly, a few mainstream artists popped out few tunes this year worthy to be nominated by Country Perspective for Song of Year.
Awards will be handed out in mid-late December. Josh and I will deliberate and reach the final decisions together, but we will also take reader input into consideration. So if you have a strong opinion about a song listed here, or about a song we may have forgotten, feel free to comment below and let us know. Who knows, you may sway the vote! Best Song of the Year may be one of the toughest categories to choose. There are several songs we have listed that could all reasonably be crowned this award. Due to the extensive nature of our list, I’ll give a short-short blurb about each song to keep this post reasonable.
Without further ado, and in no particular order, your 2014 Country Song of the Year Nominees:
- “Cry Over You” by Tami Neilson – A timeless, 1950s style country song with a spine-tingling vocal delivery from Tami. Great production behind the vocals, and lyrics about heartbreak. This song is everything that makes country music great. Full review of Dynamite! here.
- “Liberty Bell” by Matt Woods – Great acoustic instrumentation that builds to a roaring middle. Woods’ voice carries this song about getting through life’s hardships with hope and perseverance. Full review of With Love From Brushy Mountain here.
- “Find Me” by Sunny Sweeney – On an album with 3 or 4 worthy nominees, “Find Me” stands out for one main reason: Sunny’s emotional delivery of a song about a soul longing for the one. The instrumentation is perfect and builds appropriately behind brilliant lyrics. Full review of Provoked here.
- “What We Ain’t Got” by Jake Owen – This just might be Jake Owen’s best song ever recorded. His voice sells this heartbreaking piano ballad. Owen straight knocks this one out of the park. This song is about as real as life gets. Full song review here.
- “Turtles All the Way Down” by Sturgill Simpson – A song that brilliantly combines the pure, classic sounds of country with modern influences. A song that challenges faith, drugs, and love. This song is Metamodern in the truest sense, and best encapsulates what Metamodern Sounds in Country Music is all about. Full review here.
- “Oklahoma Lottery” by Karen Jonas – A dark, heartbreaking song about struggling through a hard spell of life: Droughts on the farm, faith challenged, and heading West for a better life. Karen Jonas’s voice fluctuates perfectly with the story, and the simple instrumentation is perfect behind the lyrics. Full review of Oklahoma Lottery here.
- “Dearly Departed Friend” by Old Crow Medicine Show – A song discussing the hardships of war: lamenting the loss of a soldier, and touching on topics of PTSD. The folk instrumentation fits with the topic, and shows OCMS’s strength. Full review of Remedy here.
- “Cedar Lane” by First Aid Kit – Beautiful melodies, subdued instrumentation, and deep, thoughtful lyrics about a long-lost of love. This Swedish duo delivers on this impressive song. Full review of Stay Gold here.
- “Baby, The Rain Must Fall” by BlackHawk – Love ends bitterly in this heartbreak song. A simple, acoustic instrumentation with wonderful vocal deliveries and harmonies. Full review of Brothers of the Southland here.
- “I Thank God” by Rich O’Toole – Born out of a surprise pregnancy in an affair, Rich reflects on how he might not have been here if his Mom had gotten an abortion. The lyrics show depth and understanding on the situation. It’s just a beautiful song. Full review of Jaded here.
- “Liars & Fools” by Jason Eady – Eady sings about trying it out, and giving it your all here. Simple, pure country instrumentation and a heartfelt vocal delivery. Full review of Daylight & Dark here.
- “When I Come Around” by Lee Ann Womack – A great song from the long-awaited release from Lee Ann Womack. Beautiful vocals from Lee Ann about searching for a man she once knew. “When I Come Around” has wonderful country instrumentation to top it off. Full review of The Way I’m Livin here.
- “She Don’t Love You” by Eric Paslay – A heartbroken girl is in a new relationship. Paslay comments to the new man about her brokenness, only for us to learn that Paslay may be one who broke this woman. Simple, honest lyrics that tell a heartbreaking story, and Eric Paslay sings the song with a voice that perfectly compliments the material. A great modern representation of country music. Full review of Eric Paslay here.
- “Walk Alone” by Moot Davis – An uptempo song about getting over a relationship. A fun, upbeat country melody, and Davis’ voice is nothing short of fantastic. We have no official review for the song or album, but both have been featured on Country Perspective’s midyear “Best Of” lists.
- “River Rising” by Lucette – A more subdued track, and one of the best from the brilliant Black is the Color. Lucette’s lyrics are full of mystery and require careful listen to grasp the story. I think this is a song about dying due to this line, “so let the river carry me home.” Lucette’s vocals are beautiful here. Full review of Black is the Color here.
- “Coping Mechanism” by Shovels & Rope – This song is about finding a better way to cope with a broken heart. Cary Ann’s vocal delivery is powerful here, with Michael harmonizing perfectly behind her. The instrumentation is upbeat, intense, and fits like a glove behind the vocals. As Josh wrote, “this song has the total package.” Full review of Swimmin’ Time here.
- “West Texas Rain” by Wade Bowen – Wade Bowen might just have the best modern country sound. This song about recognizing one’s imperfections is well written with a roaring vocal delivery from Bowen to cap it off. Full review of Wade Bowen here.
- “There’s No Country Here” by Melody Williamson – In the year of anti bro-country, YouTube sensation Melody Williamson has the best of them all. Written as heartbreaking disappointment over the direction of modern country, Melody’s voice captures the emotions with every note. A song of the year dark horse if there ever was one.
- “This Side of Heaven” by The Swon Brothers – I think we were all shocked that this duo from The Voice has a song like this. A great offering off an otherwise rocky, back and forth album. Life can be tough, but we have heaven to look forward to. A wonderful, heartbreaking song of faith. And let’s not forget Carrie Underwood’s harmonies that only help this song soar. Full review of The Swon Brothers here.
- “Here On Earth” by Dierks Bentley – Cowritten by Bentley, and we have to imagine this song is an expression of his confusion and hurt in response to his father’s passing. This song captures the thoughts most have after a loss like that, and still keeps hope alive within life’s darkest moments.
That’s far from the end of possibilities, but we had to cap our selections at some point. Please share your thoughts and help us decide what to crown as the best country song of 2014. This is one of the hardest categories to choose as many of them have a legitimate argument to be chosen, so your comments and votes will definitely help. If you haven’t already, check out the rest of our nominations for our awards: best male and female singers, best duo or group, best and worst albums, and worst song of 2014.
There were quite a bit of music releases this month, so for me to narrow this down to ten wasn’t as easy as I thought. In my opinion, the best song released this month was Keeley Valentino’s “Burned.” I said quite a bit about the song in my review of her EP, here’s a snippet: “Perhaps the most impressive part of the whole song is the fact that Keeley hits such a high note in the choruses. Her high-notes combined with the echoing instrumentation create a sort of haunting emptiness that captures the emotions of the song’s characters.” Without a doubt that was the song that stood out to me the most this month. Number two is Lee Ann Womack’s “Same Kind of Different” which was easily her best song on The Way I’m Livin’. I’m not surprised that women hit the top two marks on my top ten. Female country singers have been releasing a number of quality albums over the past few years, and I hope to see that trend continue. The Phillip Fox Band gets a spot at number three with the impressive Country Fried Rock N’ Roll western tune “Nothin’ Worse Than Weak.” Number four is The Roy’s heartbreaking, yet well-written Alzheimer’s song called “Sometimes.” Rounding out the top five, I have my favorite song from Tim McGraw’s Sundown Heaven Town: his duet with Catherine Dunn called “Diamond Rings and Old Barstools.”
The Phillip Fox Band appears again at number six with “Ava Lee”, the upbeat love song about a couple living life in the fast lane, and the man debates if he should settle down and have a future with her. Josh Turner’s new single, “Lay Low” comes in at number seven. Lee Ann Womack shows up again at number eight with “Prelude: Fly.” I was captivated by this track during my first listen and it features some great vocal work from Womack. Keeley Valentino makes another appearance on the list with “Love Will Come Around Again” at number nine. It’s a great song about getting over a break up and preparing yourself for when the next person comes to capture your heart. Finally, concluding the top ten is Wade Bowen with “When I Woke Up Today.” This fun song is about finding joy in life and remaining positive while the trials of a life on the road take form. It’s a great lead off single for his new self-titled album due out late next month.
- “Your Daddy’s Boots” by Dustin Lynch – I really wanted this song in my top ten. It’s easily the best song on Where It’s At and possibly Lynch’s best of his young career.
- “Sick of Me” by Tim McGraw – Another standout track from Sundown Heaven Town. Great song writing and a good, mid-tempo traditional/modern blend of country music.
- “Writin’ a New Damn Book” by Phillip Fox Band. A great up-beat southern rock song about marking your own path through life.
- “Heaven Needed Her More” by The Roys. A beautiful song about getting over a death of a loved one and remaining positive through the heartbreak.
October has a ton of albums due out. Next month’s top ten list might be even harder!
(Note: Only songs released in September 2014 are eligible to make the list)
September was a huge month for new mainstream country album releases. You might have noticed by the increased amount of reviews we’ve been doing on the site and this going to continue into the month of October as they’ll be even more new albums on the way. But before we begin October it’s time to look back on the best country music of September. The purpose of these monthly playlists is to bring attention to you the readers the best recent songs in country music. So without further ado let’s break down this month’s top ten list.
Lee Ann Womack’s album was by far the best country album released in September, so it’s no surprise she takes the top spot and three of the top four in the top ten. Her new album The Way I’m Livin’ is fantastic and highly recommend listening to it if you haven’t yet. Another thing to note is this is the third month this year that Womack has made the top ten list here on Country Perspective. The other artist that had three songs make the top ten list is Keeley Valentino. Her new self-titled EP was short, but sweet for the ears. Her top song from the EP, “Burned,” is the standout from it and certainly worthy of being #2 on the list. Coming in at #6 is a song from the Brothers Osborne’s new self-titled EP, “Love The Lonely Out Of You,” an emotional love ballad that really showcases the true talent of the duo. At #7 is the new duet single from Blake Shelton and Ashley Monroe, “Lonely Tonight.” I’m glad Shelton released this ahead of his album release today because this list is prepared days in advance, therefore making it unable for me to listen to the album. I’ve stated in the past my respect for Monroe’s work and it’s nice to see Shelton put something with merit out again.
Next is Josh Turner’s new single, “Lay Low,” which is a solid love song and a nice return song for him after an extended hiatus from country music. I’m looking forward to hearing the material on his new album. Coming in at #9 is a song from Big & Rich’s new album Gravity, which I will be reviewing very soon, titled “Thank God for Pain.” It’s a modern country song with a good message and features good harmonies from Big Kenny and John Rich. The final song to round out Country Perspective’s top ten country songs of September 2014 list is another song from Valentino, “Signs for Bakersfield.”
While there were a lot of new country songs released this month, that doesn’t mean a lot of quality. There was a lot of bad music released, however there are a few songs that deserve honorable mention and were close to making the top ten list.
Brothers Osborne – “Stay A Little Longer”
Big & Rich – “This Kind of Town”
Lee Brice – “Panama City” & “Whiskey Used To Burn”
Tim McGraw – “Sick of Me” & “Diamond Rings And Old Barstools”
(Note: Only songs released in August 2014 are eligible to make the list)
August was the month of the ladies! Seven of the top ten spots are occupied by female artists, with those three artists being Sunny Sweeney, Lucette and Lee Ann Womack. I said plenty about Sweeney’s great new album, which you can find by clicking here. But I haven’t said anything about Lucette’s music nor Womack’s new single. You’ll be hearing my thoughts on Lucette’s new album later this week and trust me you don’t want to miss that review. Womack’s single, along with the rest of her album will be given a proper review later this month when her album is released. As for the rest of the list, Micky and The Motorcars come in at #3 and #6 with “From Where The Sun Now Stand” and “Destined to Fall” respectively. They quietly released another great album at the beginning of the month. New alt country band The Buffalo Ruckus made a solid debut with their new self-titled album, having their song “Don’t Save Me” make the top ten at #7.
As always there are some songs that just didn’t make the list, whether I felt they weren’t strong enough to be put ahead of songs I have on the list above or I simply wasn’t able to listen to that artist’s music yet. I listen to as much music as possible and sometimes it can be overwhelming to keep up. One album I wasn’t able to listen to yet that I plan on listening to is Shovels and Rope’s new album Swimmin’ Time. If there are any great songs that you feel I left out on my list and want to share, be sure to voice your opinion in the comments section below. And be respectful of course.