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

October 2015

So the month of October was even better than I expected for country and Americana music. When putting together my top ten list at first I didn’t think there were a lot of candidates. Then I fully looked back through all of our reviews (it can be hard to keep up with all of the music sometimes!) and I realized that there a lot of releases competing for the top ten. From mainstream to independent there was plenty of music to satiate your tastes. Figuring out this top ten list was difficult and I changed my mind multiple times before finally coming up with the ten. It was especially difficult on the last couple of spots. For those songs that missed out, I give them a shout out in the honorable mentions. So without further ado here’s my top ten country and Americana songs for the month of October…

  1. Hailey Whitters – “One More Hell” – This will probably be a surprise to many of you readers, as I haven’t talked about this at all. If it wasn’t for Derek’s great review of Hailey Whitters’ new album Black Sheep I wouldn’t have even known about it. I finally got around to giving it a good listen and this song immediately stood out to me. It’s a personally emotional song for Whitters, as it’s about the death of her brother and how her family and herself are dealing with it. Everything about this song is so well done and even made me a little teary eyed. I can’t wait to hear more from Whitters in the future.
  2. Corb Lund – “Washed-Up Rock Star Factory Blues” – The new album from Corb Lund, Things That Can’t Be Undone, was a completely different sound than many expected and I enjoyed it thoroughly. This song is about Lund dreaming about losing his rock star life and being forced to work in a factory again. Not only does it tell an interesting story, but it also has some wry humor that will bring a smile to your face. The bluesy guitar licks throughout make it even better.
  3. Hailey Whitters – “Low All Afternoon” – Whitters’ second song of the top ten is a heartbreak ballad with an interesting perspective. It’s told from the perspective of the “other woman,” as she had been cheating with a married man for a while and expected to become his woman. Instead he ditches her and sticks with his wife, leaving the other woman to lament the situation. Whitters shows great emotion in her voice throughout this song.
  4. Jake Worthington – “This Damn Memory” – After many months of waiting Jake Worthington finally released his first original music via his self-titled EP and it didn’t disappoint. It was full of great, traditional country and the best of the bunch was definitely “This Damn Memory.” It’s a heartbreak song very much in the vein of the neo traditional country of the 80s that suits Worthington’s voice perfectly. He’s another one I’m anxious to hear more music from.
  5. Carrie Underwood – “The Girl You Think I Am” – Her new album Storyteller has proved to be divisive so far amongst fans and critics, but one song most seem to enjoy is “The Girl You Think I Am.” For good reason too, as it’s an emotional song about parents being proud of their daughter and the daughter trying to be as good as they say she is. I’m hopeful this song gets released as a single.
  6. Corb Lund – “Sadr City” – Here’s a song I think many have wrongly overlooked. “Sadr City” is about a man’s military life and not wanting to relive the memories he has experienced. This one of those songs where you need to just sit and listen, as it certainly isn’t the catchiest song in the world. But it’s a real song with a real story and that’s why I enjoy it so much.
  7. Hailey Whitters – “Late Bloomer” – Whitters sings about how it’s okay to be a late bloomer, whether in life or in your career. As Derek mentions in his review, this seems to be autobiographical for Whitters as her career took a while to launch and get going. It’s definitely one of those songs where I think anyone could relate to the theme at one point in their life.
  8. Carrie Underwood – “Choctaw County Affair” – This was without a doubt the most interesting song on Underwood’s new album. Written by Jason White, this song tells the tale of a murder and I’m a sucker for a murder ballad. Underwood’s sassy vocals go well with the lyrics and the harmonica play of Travis Meadows is icing on the cake.
  9. Jason Boland and The Stragglers – “Fat and Merry” – My October top ten closes out with two songs from the Red Dirt mainstay Jason Boland and The Stragglers. I have to say I haven’t listened to their new album Squelch as much as a I would like, but I’m changing that as you read this. “Fat and Merry” is a sarcastically upbeat tune that mocks suburbia life and features plenty of fiddle and steel guitar. The political commentary may go a little overboard at times on this album, but it’s just right here.
  10. Jason Boland and The Stragglers – “I Guess It’s Alright to Be an Asshole” – I have no other explanation of why I enjoy this song other than it’s just flat-out fun and gives me a good chuckle.

 

Honorable Mentions:

  • Charles Kelley – “The Driver” (feat. Dierks Bentley & Eric Paslay)
  • The Bottle Rockets – “Building Chryslers,” “Big Fat Nuthin'” & “I Don’t Wanna Know”
  • Corb Lund – “S Lazy H” & “Weight of the Gun”
  • Jana Kramer – “Last Song”
  • Jake Worthington – “That’s When”
  • Carrie Underwood – “Church Bells” & “Like I’ll Never Love You Again”
  • The Yawpers – “9 to 5” & “Walter”
  • Hailey Whitters – “Black Sheep”
  • Jason Boland & The Stragglers – “Heartland Bypass” & “Christmas In Huntsville”

 

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

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 10.48.24 AM

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