There’s nothing like a devastating country heartbreak song. Maddie & Tae brought it with “Die From A Broken Heart” the kind of song that makes me wish I was going through a breakup so I could drown myself in this song and mint chocolate chip ice cream. Some of the songs Maddie & Tae have released this year have been fairly boring to me, but this song is one of their best of all time.
While I love the concept of The Highwomen and every individual member, I haven’t quite been sold with their entire record. There are some incredible moments, namely this song, “If She Ever Leaves Me,” “The Highwomen,” but a lot of it hasn’t really stuck with me. Maybe it’s the continual focus on unison singing and the underwhelming (to me) debut single “Redesigning Women,” but at least we have this song. Morris takes the lead and allows this song to soar with stunning harmonies and instrumentals.
Maybe it’s campy. It definitely doesn’t have the emotional punch of The Weight Of These Wings (which I adore.) But isn’t it nice to have fun Miranda Lambert back? The release of “It All Comes Out In The Wash” felt like a sigh of relief, a welcome return to Lambert’s comedic and uptempo songwriting beginnings. People complain that it sounds like an ad for Tide, but this song never fails to bring me up when I’m down.
What amazed me about Emily Scott Robinson's album Travelling Mercies, was her unparalleled ability to pack an emotional sucker punch in such simple songwriting. The subject matter of "The Dress" comes out fairly plainly in the line, "Was it the dress I wore? Was it the wine he poured?" This song is heartbreaking in a deeper way, but dear God do I love Robinson for finding a way to put her pain into words. If you listen to one sad song in 2019, this is the one.
As a long time Civil Wars lover, anything that Joy Williams puts out I jump to listen to. Front Porch, the record she released this year, was a beautiful collection of folk songs that highlighted Williams' unmatched voice that fits so well with the acoustic-based production of this record. The highlight is the title track, a gentle song about letting someone free to live their life, but reminding them that she'll be there on the front porch, ready to let them back into her life.
A songwriter at Warner/Chappell, Caroline Watkins's first release was the killer “Drunk Girls In Bathrooms,” a millennial ode to a better world. Her writing is detailed and funny with the punch in the hook: “wouldn’t the world be nice if we were all more like drunk girls in bathrooms?” Here’s hoping that she releases “Golden Days” in 2020, probably one of the best songs from a young writer in Nashville I’ve ever heard.
Better known as Caroline Glaser from The Voice, Brother Bird is Glaser's newest project. Turns out this song isn't actually from 2019; rather, it came out in 2018 as part of the debut self-titled EP from Brother Bird. But it's on here anyways because this song was on repeat this year. Bold of her to write a song called "Landslide," but this is a beautiful little acoustic song that shows off Glaser's unique voice.
Every year I get a little more tired of Taylor Swift than the year before, and 2019 was no exception. However, her most recent record Lover had some solid tracks on it. One of the best is this one. Featuring harmonies from the Dixie Chicks which is my 10-year-old me's dream come to life, this is the most emotional Swift has gone on her records in recent years, harkening back to the brutal honestly of Red.
On Shorr's stellar debut record, it's hard to choose a favorite. So instead I chose a standout, one of the most interesting songs on the record, "Gatsby." This song isn't much happier than any of the other songs on this fairly sad record, but it employs that brilliant of having uptempo production to mask the sadness of the lyrics. To top it off, this song is hilarious and has some killers fiddle thrown in there.
Hailey Whitters is a longtime favorite for me -- I gushed about her debut Black Sheep back in 2015. Her new music is a little more mainstream, not necessarily to a fault. "Heartland" is maybe the most mainstream of the new songs, save the pop-country jam "Dream Girl." But I think this is a perfect country song. It's a song about trying to make it in the music industry, but about how to find peace and rest while working towards that goal. I hope this is Whitters' big break.