Part One is here.
7. Quittin’ Time – The Wild Feathers (Greetings from the Neon Frontier)
Let’s try not to think about the incongruity of singing a song featuring the line “A bottle of whiskey and it’s quittin’ time again” on breakfast television, and just enjoy this second terrific track from the Feathers’ 2018. This one showcases the three vocalists in the group – just like The Band and Eagles, as mentioned below.
6. Lean It On Back – Sugarland (Bigger)
A second track from Bigger in the top 14, and a great example of the Sugarland hit factory in action. Storing all the energy of the song in the verses (along with her breath), releasing it in the chorus.
5. Let Me Down Easy – Blackberry Smoke with Amanda Shires – (Find a Light)
Blackberry Smoke generally owe more to the Allman Brothers and Skynyrd than to their more harmonic brethren, but this number featuring the great Amanda Shires on harmony vocal caught me.
4. A Little Dive Bar in Dahlonega – Ashley McBride (Girl Going Nowhere)
McBride achieved a breakthrough with her album Girl Going Nowhere, which is packed with great songs, and I defy anyone who ever had a heart not to be moved by her Opry performance of its title track (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9s830jmiqnw). This one is classic Top 40 country, just another great song turned out by another great songwriter. Which is what I came for.
3. Hippie Radio – Eric Church (Desperate Man)
“He couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket but he’d sing at the top of his lungs.” The genre of country song in which you sing about your Daddy’s car is fairly ubiquitous, but this a is a fine example of it, and another stripped back arrangement that enhances Eric Church’s voice.
2. Don’t Step Away – Kelly Willis (Back Being Blue)
A slice of country soul from Kelly Willis, another artist who sometimes has a long gap between albums. What I love about her music is the home studio vibe, which is what they’re clearly going for in this video, featuring a cameo appearance from husband Bruce Robison.
Can You Hear Me – Ryan Culwell (The Last American)
So here it is: the best track from the best record of the year, and a song that has haunted my dreams since I first heard it. Bang real loud and get down low. Read my full review of the album here.