Pearce had major success in 2017 with her No. 1 debut single “Every Little Thing.” Her follow-up single is different, but just as good. Pearce mixes bluegrass-influenced dobro with a swaggery beat and confident, twangy vocals on “Hide the Wine.” She stretches out the “wine” of “hide the wine” and “mood” of “kill the mood,” making the song sultry and unique. If this song gets its fair shot on the radio in the new year, Pearce will continue to bring bluegrass back into the mainstream.
This triumphant and bittersweet song from Ashley McBryde is simple and mostly acoustic, as McBryde reflects on her journey as a musician, from having people tell her she would never going to succeed to selling out shows. The chorus is short and humble, but it shows how proud McBryde is of her success. She sings, “I look around, and I can’t find an empty chair / Not bad for a girl goin’ nowhere.” Not bad at all.
Last year, this song sat proudly at No. 2 of our ‘Best Demos' list. This year, as Morris released the song following the Vegas shooting, it earned a spot on this list. The country music community was rocked to its core after that tragic event, but artists came together in an attempt to recover from it. Morris and Gill’s work on this song is one of the best examples of how country artists used their skills to help the whole community heal this year.
Jillian Jacqueline's catalog of music released this year has one major thing in common: it's all brutally honest. This song is no exception, and that's what makes it so exceptional. "Hate Me" isn't a typical break-up song, as Jacqueline is begging her ex to hate her and to have an angry reaction to their breakup so Jacqueline can just get over it and move on. It's her attempt at forcing a clean break, and it makes a brilliant song.
One of the two singles that Silvas dropped about halfway through 2017, "Just For The Record" is a piano-driven ballad with a whole lot of heart. Silvas sings about the aftermath of a breakup, and how her ex will be talking about their relationship. In this song, Silvas sets the record straight, cutting through all of his sh*t-talk. Silvas's vocals, as well as her specific lyrical perspective are compelling and emotional, creating one of Silvas's strongest songs ever.
One of the more hidden tracks on Bradbery’s uber-personal sophomore record I Don’t Believe We’ve Met, "Human Diary" is not a song to overlook. Written by Josh Kerr and Emily Weisband, you wouldn't know that Bradbery didn't write the song based on the conviction in her vocals. Bradbery's rhythmic delivery, the pop-country production and the cutting lyrics come together to create an interesting and extremely powerful song from the rising star.
Cam’s comeback single is as folky and catchy as one could have ever hoped. The song is a sort of response song to Dolly Parton’s “Jolene,” with Cam telling the story from the other woman’s perspective. In a year when the definition of country music has been stretched more than ever, it’s nice to hear the definition being stretched towards a more folk-rock sound rather than pop or hip-hop. Cam’s organic sound and this song’s catchy melody has her poised for a monster 2018.
Womack’s stellar new album, The Lonely, The Lonesome and the Gone is full of great songs, but this one stands above the rest. It’s a true country story song, written by Womack, Waylon Payne and Adam Wright. Through the pictures the lyrics describe, Womack also makes a striking comment on society: "you don't take pictures of the bad times / we only wanna remember all the sunshine," much needed in the Instagram world we live in.
2017 was the year of feminism. From the Women’s March to women coming out against sexual abusers, women gained an incredible voice this year. Caroline Spence’s song “Softball” is an important part of this movement. The song on the surface is about a girl who plays softball and is never put in by her coach because she’s a girl. The deeper meaning of the song speaks to the sexism in all industries, and that no matter how good a woman is, there are still men who will undermine her success.
Penned by Liz Rose and Nicolle Galyon, “Church Clothes” is the song we've all been waiting for. Bannen tells the story of a couple that hides their relationship troubles from the world. Despite differing circumstances, she could be singing about any of us. We all hide our struggles, we all put on our "church clothes" to go live our lives, whether we go to church or not. Bannen's "Church Clothes" is a reminder that we're not alone in our difficulties, and it's okay to not be okay.
“Wild West” by Runaway June
“If My Name Was Whiskey” by Carly Pearce
“Space” by Lindsay Ell
“Nice Things” by Mickey Guyton