The Best Country Albums of 2023: Team Picks

2023 brought us a ton of great new country music. As we look back on the new albums released, here are our team’s picks for out favorite country albums of 2023.


Stephanie Wagner, Founder
Favorite album: Bluebird DaysJordan Davis

Choosing a favorite album was especially hard this year after all of the incredible new music that was released. However, when thinking about what were truly my go-to listens, I very quickly narrowed it down to Jordan Davis’ Bluebird Days. From top to bottom this entire album is incredibly well-written. I consider myself a ‘day-one’ Jordan Davis fan and seeing the maturity and growth in this album confirms to me that this singer-songwriter is one we will be hearing many hits from for a very long time. His music is clever, catchy, and relatable. It’s the kind of music you can have on in the background or dive deep into the lyrics. It’s the storytelling in each song that makes me excited to share his music with others and watch them become fans too. This project has been on repeat for me and rightfully deserves a spot as one of the best albums of 2023.


Erica Zisman, Content Manager
Favorite album: Lucky – Megan Moroney

While there were a lot of noteworthy albums to come out of 2023, Megan Moroney’s debut album, Lucky stands out. I have had this record playing on repeat from the minute we gained access to it. Moroney’s star-power and songwriting prowess shine bright throughout the record. Specifically, the song, “Mustang or Me,” might be one of my favorite songs of the year too. The songstress is headed for superstardom. It is only a matter of time!


Nicole Piering, Contributing Writer
Favorite album: High & Low – Caitlyn Smith

While there were many incredible albums released in 2023, one that I’ve had on repeat is Caitlyn Smith’s High & Low. With her incredible voice and stunning lyrics, the album manages to capture both the best and worst parts of life, sounding much like a peek into her most personal diary. With songs like “Maybe in Another Life,” “High,” and “Writing Songs and Raising Babies,” this was one that I listened to endlessly. However, if you’re only going to listen to one track, the clear standout is “Alaska,” which is easily one of the best songs of 2023.


Dylan Bestler, Contributing Writer
Favorite album: the mockingbird & THE CROW  – HARDY

I was immediately drawn to HARDY once I saw him open for Florida Georgia Line in 2019. His music has grown so much since then, even crossing genre lines. I loved this album’s whole vibe. My favorite moment is in the title track when it transitions from country into hard rock (the track was my #3 song this year, and “Sold Out” was #4 last year). I’m thrilled “wait in the truck” took off and and won all those awards because it’s so different from what you usually hear on the radio. The music video literally gave me chills! I’m really looking forward to HARDY’s next project, whatever genre it may be.


Abby Kaye-Phillips, Contributing Writer
Favorite album: Bigger Houses – Dan + Shay

Dan + Shay have given fans a range of vibes and a varied sound across their last few projects, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from their latest release, Bigger Houses. What I found was a beautifully crafted album that felt both refreshingly new and also reminiscent of their first record from almost 10 years ago. From the heartfelt “For The Both of Us”, to the sentimental “Always Gonna Be”, and the poignant title track “Bigger Houses”, to the fun and flirty “We Should Get Married”, there is so much to love. I’m thrilled the band decided to continue making music together, and I know this album will remain special to the artists and the fans for years to come.


Lucie Bernheim, Contributing Writer
Favorite album: Rolling Up The Welcome Mat – Kelsea Ballerini

Kelsea Ballerini has always been one of Nashville’s strongest songwriters, but her latest project, Rolling Up The Welcome Mat, proves that she is here to stay as an artist and visionary. It’s not about the bells and whistles of Music City. It’s about the truth and authenticity, and figuring out ways to tackle and share the difficult and messy words. Written and produced solely by Ballerini and close friend/powerhouse Alysa Vanderheym, they take you truly behind the curtain of a woman growing and messing up, in a way that embraces multiple sides of the story and the different stages of grief. “Just Married” is one of the most clever and heart-wrenching country songs to have been released, and “Leave Me Again” is stark in production and full in lyrical purity. There is a reason this album has transformed Ballerini’s career, and it is not because of the news articles that follow it – it is because it is honest.


Rebekah Milsted, Contributing Writer
Favorite album: Stereotype Broken deluxe – Cole Swindell

Stereotype Broken is my favorite album of 2023 because Swindell took an already great album and made it even better. He did this by going back to his love for 90s country.  With “Sad Ass Country Song” honoring the classics and legends and “She Had Me At Heads Carolina Remix” featuring Jo Dee Messina, you feel like you traveled back in time. As a new mom, lullabies have become a constant listen in our household. Swindell created an adult version to add to the album. It may be about a breakup and be upbeat but it brings back memories of the classics instantly. This record continues to show Swindell’s talent as an artist and songwriter. I can’t wait for album five!

Best Country Music Songs of June 2021: “What We’re Listening To” Picks

Country Swag’s “What We’re Listening To” playlist highlights the wide range of our team’s favorite songs and artists when it comes to the country music genre.  At the end of the day, we are all fans first with a passion for country music and are eager to share with you all what we’ve got on repeat each month.

Find below each of our team member’s favorite songs and why in our June 2021 picks of the current best country music songs. Then be sure to give our Spotify account a follow and listen to our favorite tracks!





Stephanie Wagner, Founder

Pick: “I Quit Drinking” – Kelsea Ballerini & LANY
Songwriters: Nicolle Galyon, Kelsea Ballerini, Paul Jason Klein

When I first saw Kelsea Ballerini and LANY perform this song together during the CMT Awards, I was immediately hooked. I love a good collab, especially cross-genre, that brings unique voices and flairs together and this one knocked it out of the park. I love the concept of this song where most break-up songs sing about needing that drink to move on and this one is quite literally the opposite. Not being together is the reason the main character can’t enjoy those drinks now. It’s such a simple concept that makes so much sense and on top of that it’s extremely catchy and the kind of song that makes you want to blast and sing along to.

“Waking up sober, it feels kinda nice // Except that I can’t sleep at night // You’re the reason there’s no whiskey, anywhere inside this house // You’re the reason all my friends know I don’t go downtown // You’re the reason I hate champagne // Never used to turn it down // You’re the only thing I want when one drop hits my mouth // Baby, you’re the reason // I quit drinking”


Lucie Bernheim, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Better Man” – Little Big Town
Songwriters: Taylor Swift

Little Big Town’s The Breaker album is one of my favorites to go back to, and I never get tired of listening to “Better Man”. Karen Fairchild’s vocals sound like a diary entry, and the rich harmonies that fill the space add so much depth to the already powerful lyrics. Taylor Swift’s lyricism is always brilliant, and on this track, it’s no exception. It’s heartbreaking yet empowering, “the bravest thing I ever did was run” – and I think that the overall strength of the song is what always brings me back to it. “Better Man”, in my mind, will go on to be one of the classics of this era of country music.


Dylan Bestler, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Summer Job Money” – Chris Lane
Songwriters: Blake Pendergrass, John Byron

Chris Lane released a lot of new music lately, but “Summer Job Money” is, in my opinion, the stand-out of the bunch. Its comical and catchy lyrics backed by its mix of modern and traditional country sound make it a great summer-love tune. I constantly find myself singing the chorus over-and-over in my head.

In his earlier stuff, I feel he was leaning heavily on the big pop-productions, like on “Fix,” “Let Me Love You,” and “Take Back Home Girl.” It is apparent that Lane is returning to his roots with these new songs. As someone who generally appreciates lyrics over background music, I think a simpler sound works better with Lane’s style and persona. I’m looking forward to more from him this summer!


Kristina Callahan, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Famous Friends” – Chris Young & Kane Brown
Songwriters: Cary Barlowe, Chris Young, Corey Crowder

One of the reasons I love Chris Young is the energy he brings to his songs whether it be a ballad or an upbeat drinking song. “Famous Friends” fits in the latter category but it’s about a group of friends that might not be famous by Hollywood standards but they’re local celebrities in their hometown. The song namedrops counties throughout Tennessee in the chorus, a shout out to the Volunteer State.

“I’ve got some famous friends you’ve probably never heard of // But back in Hamilton County our crowd is second to none // You might not know ’em here in this big city we’re in // But when I go back home I’ve got some famous friends”

Young brought his real-life friend Kane Brown onto the song and he’s the perfect addition. They both closed out the CMT Music Awards earlier this month with “Famous Friends” and you can tell their friendship runs deep.


Pick: “Buy Dirt” – Jordan Davis & Luke Bryan
Songwriters: Jacob Davis, Jordan Davis, Josh Jenkins, Matt Jenkins

Every so often a song comes along that gives me chills not just the first time I hear it, but every time after that. Maybe I’m sentimental after the year we’ve all had, or maybe I’m extra emotional because I recently got married, but this track about what really matters has been giving me all the feels this month. The song is catchy, heartfelt, simple, and so very country. And the collaboration between a rising talent and an established superstar is just the icing on top.

“Buy dirt // Find the one you can’t live without // Get a ring, let your knee hit the ground // Do what you love but call it work // And throw a little money in the plate at church // Send your prayers up and your roots down deep // Add a few limbs to your family tree // And watch their pencil marks // And the grass in the yard all grow up // ‘Cause the truth about it is // It all goes by real quick // You can’t buy happiness // But you can buy dirt”


Pick: “Woman You Got” – Maddie & Tae
Songwriters: Laura Veltz, Maddie Font, Mark Holman, Taylor Kerr

This month, I chose “Woman You Got” by Maddie and Tae as a song I have had on repeat. The track is fun and catchy yet gets it right about growing in a relationship whether that be dating or marriage.

“You say you love me, I know you love me // Love that you love me, baby // I know you know me, but if I know me // I’m gonna drive you crazy // The thing about me is I’m always getting better // The truth is, boy, it might take forever but // When it comes to loving you I’m never gonna stop // And that’s the kind of woman you got”


Erica Zisman, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Middle Man” – Kasey Tyndall
Songwriters: Kasey Tyndall, Lainey Wilson

After getting to interview Kasey Tyndall for our Swag Spotlight series, I knew I had to choose her song “Middle Man” as my pick of the month. I already loved the song, but hearing how effortlessly the track came together really spoke to me. I love songs that can make me feel something. “Middle Man” fits the bill. Although I do not have divorced parents, I can literally feel the emotion that Tyndall conveys in the poignant new single.

“I was too young to understand // I was a little girl // And the middle man // I got a taste of rock n roll // Swear I learned to talk to Jesus // And I made best friends with the road // I got real good // I got real good at leaving”

The songstress finds a way to matter-of-factly speak her truth, while speaking for a larger landscape of people. She does not cast blame on anyone, which makes the song even more special. We are all just people after all. “Middle Man” reminds listeners that we are always influenced by where we come, regardless of our circumstances. That is a beautiful message to come out of a tender, yet gritty single!


Listen to our picks on our “What We’re Listening To” playlist on Spotify and be sure to give it a follow, so you can catch our monthly updates.

Best Country Music Songs of May 2021: “What We’re Listening To” Picks

Country Swag’s “What We’re Listening To” playlist highlights the wide range of our team’s favorite songs and artists when it comes to the country music genre.  At the end of the day, we are all fans first with a passion for country music and are eager to share with you all what we’ve got on repeat each month.

Find below each of our team member’s favorite songs and why in our May 2021 picks of the current best country music songs. Then be sure to give our Spotify account a follow and listen to our favorite tracks!





Stephanie Wagner, Founder

Pick: “When the Party’s Over” – Donovan Woods
Songwriters: Donovan Woods, Tom Douglas, Travis Wood

This month I have been hooked on Donovan Woods’ “When the Party’s Over”. This song randomly came on one day and immediately caught my attention. I love the picture it paints of the best part of the night not being the actual party, but when the party is over and you just have that alone time with that special someone. You can almost feel the magic described in the lyrics and I think it’s a moment of the night that everyone can relate to.

“‘Cause when the party’s over // I get to pull you in closer // We dance a little bit slower // Vinyl still spinning // Night’s just beginning // Girl, were gonna keep on rocking // Come on kiss me like no one’s watching // Your black dress gets to dropping // And the fireworks start // Yeah the night’s been so good, so far // But the best part, is when thе party’s over”


Dylan Bestler, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Momma Didn’t Raise No” – Garrett Biggs
Songwriters: Ethan Willis, Garrett Biggs, Joseph Maliszewski, Matthew McSwain

I found this song by accident after the playlist I made on YouTube ended. I left it on, because the title intrigued me, and it’s a good thing that I did. Not only is it very catchy, but the story is also inspiring. Biggs praises the way his mother raised him and credits her for shaping him into the strong man he is today, even though he wasn’t the most well-behaved child.

“Oh I might be a little rough around the edges // And from the outside looking in I might seem helpless // But I’ve been blessed with a strong backbone // I never could’ve made it on my own // And it’ll be written on my headstone // ‘Cause momma didn’t raise no”

I’ve written this before; my favorite songs are ones that are personal to the artist yet can relate to others as well. I feel most people don’t appreciate just how much their parents do for them until they move out or go away to college—at least that’s when I realized. Biggs captures that feeling well in this song and it hit me hard, especially right after Mother’s Day. I suggest checking out some other songs from Biggs’ catalog too!


Kristina Callahan, Contributing Writer

Pick: “More Time Fishin'” – Thomas Rhett
Songwriters: Josh Thompson, Rhett Akins, Thomas Rhett, Will Bundy

I love just about every song Thomas Rhett puts out, but this song really hits home for me. After a crazy and difficult year and a half, Rhett gives us some sound advice everyone should take to heart in his new song “More Time Fishin’.”

“You can spend your whole life // Tryin’ to make a killin’ // But what’s it all worth without a little livin’? // Don’t wanna look back at all the things I’m missin’ // And wake up wishin’ I spent more time fishin’, yeah // More time fishin’, yeah”

The song is about not wasting time and doing things you love now because you never know when it’ll be too late. It’s so easy to get caught up with work, errands, house chores and forget about the important things in life. Whenever I need a reminder of that, this is my go-to song.


Erin Crosby, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Figured Out” – Lacy Cavalier
Songwriters: Brian Phillips, Kyle Schlienger, Lacy Cavalier, Nick Luebke

This month, I’ve been listening to Lacy Cavalier’s vibey new song, “Figured Out”. If you’re looking for a new song that’s fun to sing along to and just chill out, this is it.

“You got it figured out // Imma sit back and watch cuz // You know your way around // Like I swear nobody else does // Using fingertips like a paintbrush // I’m your work of art that’ll never be done // You got it figured out”


Caleigh DeCaprio, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Days Go By” – Keith Urban
Songwriters: Andrew Powell, Keith Urban

I had an early morning road trip earlier this morning and needed to switch up what I’ve been listening to so I scrolled through my old playlists and played my summer playlist from 2016 (I had just gotten my truck and graduated from high school). The first song to play was “Days Go By” by Keith Urban (much older than 2016 I know) but it put me in such a good mood as I watched the sunrise in the rearview mirror. It was such a vibe and put me in the perfect ‘summer’s coming’ mood for the rest of my drive of singing and dancing ahead. I highly recommend diving into your old playlists if you need to switch things up, if you want to bring back memories, or if you’re getting super antsy about summer.

“Days go by / I can feel them flyin’ / Like a hand out the window in the wind / Cars go by / Yeah, it’s all we’ve been given / So you better start livin’ right now / ‘Cause days go by”


Erica Zisman, Contributing Writer

Pick: “when was it over?” – Sasha Sloan ft. Sam Hunt
Songwriters: Henry Agincourt Allen, Emi Dragoi, Sam Hunt, Sasha Sloan, Shane McAnally

My song pick for May is actually a collaboration. When I heard that Sasha Sloan was going to join forces with Sam Hunt, I was immediately intrigued. I have been loving cross-genre collaborations and I especially love the whole genre-bending trend. Their song “when was it over?” is an instant bop.

“I didn’t ask if you were okay // After a fight with your mom // The last time I stayed over at your place // And you woke up alone // Was it the first time you pulled away // Second time that we drove to Texas // Third time we ran into one of my random exes // So was it ever real? // Or was it all pretend // The way you act has good me wonderin’ // When was it over for you?”

The push-pull nature of the song feels effortless, but it’s the lyrics and the simple production that gets me every time. This song could easily fit in with any genre because of how simply gorgeous it is. When I heard that Shane McAnally had a hand in writing it with Hunt and Sloan, I knew exactly why I had fallen in love with it so easily. I encourage everyone to give it a listen!


Listen to our picks on our “What We’re Listening To” playlist on Spotify and be sure to give it a follow, so you can catch our monthly updates.

Best Country Music Songs of April 2021: “What We’re Listening To” Picks

NYCountry Swag’s “What We’re Listening To” playlist highlights the wide range of our team’s favorite songs and artists when it comes to the country music genre.  At the end of the day, we are all fans first with a passion for country music and are eager to share with you all what we’ve got on repeat each month.

Find below each of our team member’s favorite songs and why in our April 2021 picks of the current best country music songs. Then be sure to give our Spotify account a follow and listen to our favorite tracks!





Stephanie Wagner, Founder

Pick: “Country Again” – Thomas Rhett
Songwriters: Ashley Gorley, Thomas Rhett, Zach Crowell

I know this song has only been out for a little over a week, but the second I heard it, it instantly moved me and I’ve had it on repeat since. Although the lyrics speak personally to Rhett, I think it acts in a relatable way to anyone who has had the opportunity to slow down over the past year and enjoy the things they once took for granted. Time with friends and loved ones, being home, and enjoying the simple things in life.

To me, I think of the word ‘wholesome’ when I think of this song, it’s so nice to see Rhett enjoying the little things and getting back to his roots. I love the idea that although 2020 wasn’t the best year, we can look back and think that there were some good things to come from it.

“I traded sunsets with my wife // For hours on my phone // And even when I was right beside her // I still wasn’t really home // But last night we built a fire // Watched the moonlight kiss her skin // I thought, “Man, it feels good to be country again”


Lucie Bernheim, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Do You Think About Me” – Caitlyn Smith
Songwriters: Rollie Gaalswyk, Jeremy Lardani, Caitlyn Smith

Caitlyn Smith’s “Do You Think About Me” has been on rotation for at least 4 years, and lately, I’ve been listening to it more than ever. The Starfire EP in general got me through my freshman year of high school! As it has started getting really nice out, I’ve been taking more walks and drinking my coffee outside – and to me, that’s what this song sounds like. It has this calming presence over me, and it’s rootsy alternative country perfection. The combination of the rolling drums and gorgeous electric guitar over Smith’s silky vocals make for a song you simply can’t get sick of.


Dylan Bestler, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Famous Friends” – Chris Young & Kane Brown
Songwriters: Cary Barlowe, Chris Young, Corey Crowder

This song came out a few months ago, and I was hoping it would start gaining some traction because I think it’s a perfect representation of country music and small-town life. Everyone looks up to politicians, athletes, celebrities, and other individuals whose names carry weight but as the pandemic has exaggerated, the real heroes are the doctors, teachers, shop owners, and friends that helped us through tough times. The two emphasize the importance these people have in our community.

I love when Chris Young and Kane Brown collab because Brown often credits Young for being an idol to him when he was growing up and pursuing music as a career. Knowing Brown’s backstory and being a huge fan, it’s nice to see it become full circle.


Pick: “Drinkin’ Beer. Talkin’ God. Amen.” – Chase Rice ft. Florida Georgia Line
Songwriters: Chase Rice, Hunter Phelps, Cale Dodds & Corey Crowder

I’ve always been a huge fan of both Chase Rice and Florida Georgia Line, so I couldn’t wait to hear them collaborate on a song together. “Drinkin’ Beer. Talkin’ God. Amen.” is exactly what it sounds like, a country song featuring the essentials: beer, God, and great friends.
“Sittin’ here, drinkin’ beer, talkin’ God, Amen // Killing time, living life with some down-home friends // When the world’s gone crazy man it all makes sense // Sittin’ here, drinkin’ beer, talkin’ God, Amen // Amen”
I can’t wait to blast this song with the windows down this summer and *hopefully* hear it live sometime very soon.


Erin Crosby, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Wings” – Jackson Dean
Songwriters: Jackson Dean, Park Chisolm

“Wings” from newly signed recording artist Jackson Dean is a paralyzing production of a deep-rooted sentiment through heavy vocals of attractive rasp and intriguing range. From the finger-picking that opens the song and leads up to the words sprung out from this Maryland native who teeters on the same stylistic approaches as Chris Stapleton in this debut song, Dean Jackson is one to look out for. “Wings” is an incredible start to his journey with Big Machine Records.


Caleigh DeCaprio, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Hard to Stay Mad At” – Tim McGraw
Songwriters: Lori McKenna, Luke Laird, Shane McAnally

In honor of Tim McGraw releasing the Ultimate Edition and the Ultimate Video Edition of Here on Earth, I’ve been re-listening to the album, and “Hard to Stay Mad” is one of my favorite songs off of it. I love any song that finds a way to reference other songs in it, but I especially love that McGraw has reached a point where he is referencing his own songs within his new tunes, which he does multiple times on this album alone.

In “7500 OBO”, McGraw name drops “Where the Green Grass Grows” and “Southern Girl” and he does it again in “Hard to Stay Mad At”. You can hear musical undertones that sound similar to “I Need You” throughout the song, that eventually form to “I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you”  that follows the same pattern, until adding in the infamous “I need you, I need you, I need you, I need you” and ending the song with “I want you” in the same beat. Not only is “I Need You” an iconic song and a staple when it comes to the careers of both Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, but McGraw’s inclusion of it on his songs and albums now speaks volumes to the success of his career. He even threw in an anecdote about him and Hill in his latest release off the upcoming album in “God Moves the Pen”. Can’t wait to see what other surprises he has for the rest of the album!

“If you weren’t so damn stubborn, we would’ve never got this far // Be just another casualty, two people in a bar // Here we are, another day // Everytime I walk away, I walk right back // ‘Cause you’re hard to stay mad at”


Julia Grubbs, Contributing Writer

Pick: “No Sad Songs” – Niko Moon
Songwriters: Alysa Vanderheym, Anna Moon, Joshua Murty, Niko Moon, Steven Lee Olsen

As we crawl our way out of winter in the Northeast, I needed something truly uplifting to pick up my mood. I came across Niko Moon’s “No Sad Songs”, and the title itself told me everything I needed to hear. It instantly lifted my spirits and gave me the fun summer vibes I’m so longing for. No more desperate winter heartbreak songs; I’m done with it all and looking forward. This song has the pop-country vibe that is so popular and appealing to all listeners, even those who claim to not like country music. The electric guitar and rapped verses give it the groove to keep you moving.
‘Dancing all the way ’til last call // drink in my hand got me feelin’ right”


Pick: “Chasing After You” – Ryan Hurd & Maren Morris
Songwriters: Brinley Addington & Jerry Flowers

I’m a sucker for country couples (Kelsea Ballerini and Morgan Evans, anyone??) and I can’t stop listening to Ryan Hurd’s track with wife and mega-star Maren Morris, “Chasing After You”. The song is simple, catchy, and relatable and the fact that the two are in love in real life is the icing on the cake.

“But I know, yeah I know it’s a matter of time // ‘Till you walk, ’till you walk back out of my life // Leave me standing here lonely feeling like a fool // Every time, every time you say we’re done // You come back to the love you werе running from // Don’t know why, don’t know why I let you but I do // Guess I love chasing aftеr you”


Pick: “That’s When” – Taylor Swift & Keith Urban
Songwriters: Brad Warren, Brett Warren, Taylor Swift

My pick for this month is “That’s When” by Taylor Swift featuring Keith Urban. It’s no secret that “country Taylor” is my favorite era, so when she announced new songs from the vault coming I was so excited. “That’s When” is the perfect breakup track whether it was when you are 17 (like I was when Fearless came out) or now as an adult. Having Keith Urban on the track also makes it super special as they were former tourmates. Their voices fit so well together.


Nicole Piering, Contributing Writer

Pick: “I Would’ve Loved You” – Jake Hoot & Kelly Clarkson
Songwriters: Dean Sams, Jake Hoot, Jamie Floyd

My pick this month is “I Would’ve Loved You,” by The Voice winner Jake Hoot and his coach, Kelly Clarkson. There’s just something to love about a country power ballad, and this one is as good as they get. Written by Hoot, Jamie Floyd, and Dean Sams of Lonestar, the song is an interesting take on a breakup song, the pair belting, “I’m gonna hate you as long and as much as I would’ve loved you.” Both Hoot and Clarkson shine vocally on this song, singing their hearts out, and sounding absolutely beautiful together while doing so.


Erica Zisman, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Ran into You” – Mitch Rossell & Trisha Yearwood
Songwriters: Dave Turnbull, Mitch Rossell, Tommy Karlas

This month my pick came easy. As soon as I heard our recent Swag Spotlight artist Mitch Rossell’s song with Trisha Yearwood “Ran into You,” I knew that would be my pick.

The song is everything I love about country music. It tells a story. It has impeccable lyrics and the vocals are just out of this world. The added collaboration with Trisha Yearwood and the harmonies are just a bonus! The song feels honest and authentic, making me feel for the protagonist despite not experiencing this particular story myself.

“I ran like hell to nowhere fast / From myself / From my past / From my hometown and everyone I ever knew / I ran from God when he got too close / I ran from love and the hearts I broke / And from all the wreckage I left in my rear-view. All I ever knew was running / ’Til I ran into you”

Mitch Rossell is also an artist that I really believe in him, so I was honored to get to pick his song as my favorite of the month! Now, go listen to it!


Listen to our picks on our “What We’re Listening To” playlist on Spotify and be sure to give it a follow, so you can catch our monthly updates.

Best Country Music Songs of March 2021: “What We’re Listening To” Picks

NYCountry Swag’s “What We’re Listening To” playlist highlights the wide range of our team’s favorite songs and artists when it comes to the country music genre.  At the end of the day, we are all fans first with a passion for country music and are eager to share with you all what we’ve got on repeat each month.

Find below each of our team member’s favorite songs and why in our March 2021 picks of the current best country music songs. Then be sure to give our Spotify account a follow and listen to our favorite tracks!




Stephanie Wagner, Founder

Pick: “Shoulda” – Kylie Morgan
Songwriters: Shane McAnally, Ben Johnson, Kylie Morgan

Kylie Morgan’s “Shoulda” is a song that I have had on repeat since its release a few weeks ago. The catchy, upbeat, and edgy track is nearly impossible to listen to without wanting to jump up, dance around, and scream sing along to every word.

Morgan creatively turns a break-up into a power anthem, looking back on all of the things you should’ve, could’ve, would’ve done differently, but doing exactly what you wanted anyway.

“Shoulda locked down, shoulda laid low // Shoulda poured two for one alone // I know it now but it’s too late // Shoulda hung up when I saw your name // Oh, I knew better than to ever think that you could change // Should, woulda, coulda // I ain’t never been no good at staying home when I know that I // Shoulda // Shoulda, woulda, coulda // I ain’t never been no good at staying home when I know that I // Shoulda, shoulda // Shoulda, shoulda”


Lucie Bernheim, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Knowing You” – Kenny Chesney
Songwriters: Adam James, Brett James, Kat Higgins

Admittedly, I never got Kenny Chesney. Maybe it’s because I’m from the city or because of my age, but I never really seemed to get the hype. I heard Luke Laird sing one of his Kenny cuts “American Kids” days before lockdown, and suddenly, I felt my perspective change. About a month later, I read an article about “Knowing You”, and it moved me enough that I felt compelled to listen. Upon first listen, I was crushed in the best way. It wasn’t overly specific. It’s not earth-shattering – if anything, it was how simple and frank it was that made me love it. Something about the melody and the phrasing of the chorus drew me in.

“But God, we were so alive // I was a kid on a carnival ride”

Spring usually makes me reflect, but this last year of immense loss and change keeps me coming back to this song. I think about what it means for me, and also how everyone in the world can relate to its sentiment. I can’t remember a time I was this excited about a mainstream radio single. Safe to say I get Kenny now.


Dylan Bestler, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Want It Again” – Thomas Rhett
Songwriters: Jon Henderson, Josh Miller, Josh Thompson, Lynn Hutton, Matt Dragstrem, Thomas Rhett

I’ve been listening to this song non-stop since it came out! I love anything Thomas Rhett drops, but it was nice to hear a vulnerable, stripped-down song from him. Sometimes I feel like these poppy-productions take away from the lyrics of his songs, but with “Want It Again,” you can feel the raw emotion in his voice.

I also like how this sad song has a happy ending to it – you can put it on if you want to cry, or you can put it on if you are feeling extra grateful for the person you love. I’m very excited for part one of his album and I hope to hear a lot more songs like this one!

“And oh, I hope one day you’ll find // Your way back into my arms // So girl, I’ll put this heart of mine // Somewhere good and safe, in case you want it again someday”


Kristina Callahan, Contributing Writer

Pick: “How Far Can It Go?” – Hailey Whitters ft. Trisha Yearwood
Songwriters: Hailey Whitters, Hillary Lindsey, Nicolle Galyon

When I first heard this song and even knew Trisha Yearwood was featured on it,  it immediately reminded me of the song “She’s In Love With The Boy.” The upbeat tune is about young love and as the song title says, seeing how far it’ll go.

“How far can it go? // How long will it last? // She’s got her eyes on forever, he’s got his foot on the gas // Can’t stop two hearts from fallin’ down like dominoes // Heads are shakin’, preacher prayin’, mama sayin’ // Hеy, how far can it go?”

Whitters has such a unique voice so pairing that with a traditional, timeless voice like Yearwood’s makes this catchy tune a hit in my book. This is the second song Whitters has out with some big names attached. She also has a song “Fillin’ My Cup” with Little Big Town out now. I love listening to new talent in the country music world and can’t wait to see what’s next for this up-and-coming star.


Erin Crosby, Contributing Writer

Pick: “I Remember Everything” – Brandi Carlile
Songwriters: John Prine, Pat McLaughin

I first heard Brandi Carlile on the soundtrack of the Nicholas Sparks film Safe Haven and was immediately transfixed. Vocally, she is timeless yet vintage; one of those artists that creates an intricate atmosphere of cigars, whiskey, and sadness, while, at the same time, incorporating a real sense of universality and togetherness. An incredibly strong gift.

John Prine’s “I Remember Everything” through Carlile’s voice brings a new life to the words of the late country legend. Presented on the Grammy stage, the song connects the past to the present; inner turmoil to complete devotion.

The weight of this tribute song, with more to come through an album of the best from Prine, has not withered with time. And, with Carlile’s lasting effect as if hearing her for the first time over classic country-folk productions, this upcoming project is on the top of the anticipation list.


Caleigh DeCaprio, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Cross Country” – Breland ft. Mickey Guyton
Songwriters: Daniel Breland, Mickey Guyton, Sam Sumser, Sean Small, Will Gittens

I was an immediate fan of BRELAND’s original version of this song. While autobiographical of his own journey through the music industry, it is also a very relatable story of struggling to find your own purpose and place in this world. I think songs can have different meanings to different people, dependent on the different stages of life that they are going through. I related to this song strongly in the sense that he was searching his whole life to make it possible for him to do what he wanted to do.

In the remix, Guyton is able to add her own story into the song, showing that this personal struggle to get to where they are now, was something they had in common, and something that many others can relate to as well.

Both BRELAND and Guyton have been inspirational and boundary-breaking throughout their entire careers and especially in the last year. This song perfectly expresses the powerful impact they each have on the music industry and specifically on Nashville. It is an incredible blend of two stories, of two artists, who are breaking boundaries for people of color in country music.

“Took a couple of years and a lot of tears ‘til I made my mark // And I started to see who I wanted to be in this world of ours // Gotta play your part”


Julia Grubbs, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)” – Miranda Lambert & Elle King
Songwriters: Elle King & Martin Johnson

With March holding the major icon of International Women’s Day in a year that’s proven to have set so many women back in terms of work and play, I chose “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)” to highlight the power of two glass-breakers in the country music scene.
This song is an anthem for every woman who has been told too many times, explicit or not, to play a certain role. The drive of the beat fills me with anticipation of all that I can do. These are the lyrics I want to hear every time I need a reminder that I can take any risk I want, and my strength and will are there to keep me afloat; and not just afloat, but soaring. Keep it up, gals.
“We don’t gotta wait until the weekend // There’s always time for jumping off the deep end // So don’t you wait up tonight // Don’t worry, I’ll be fine”


Pick: “Another” – Adam Doleac
Songwriters: Adam Doleac, Kyle Jacobs, Trannie Anderson

This song might be six months old, but it has personally been on repeat the past few weeks. Adam Doleac’s voice and his laid-back production style make all his songs some of my favorites, and this track is no exception. With simple but poignant imagery, and a chorus just as catchy as it is sweet, ‘Another’ is bound to resonate with any hopeless-romantic-country-music-lover.
“Every smile, every kiss, every second that I get // Every little look you give me like that // Every night, every day, every memory that we make // Baby, you ain’t even gotta ask // I’ll always want another dance // Another chance to hold your hand // Yeah, from the second that we fеll into each other // Knew I was nеver gonna ever wanna // Never ever gonna want another”


Pick: “Hey Y’all” – Cole Swindell
Songwriters: Brandon Kinney, Cole Swindell, Michael Carter

This month, I chose Cole Swindell’s “Hey Y’all” from his debut album. Released over seven years ago, the song remains one of my favorites to this day. “Hey Y’all” has also been on repeat for me even more so because I’m really missing Swindell’s concerts and this song puts me right back there. I can picture everyone waving their hands from side to side and singing the chorus back to the talented entertainer. Hopefully, we will all be enjoying a show soon!


Nicole Piering, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Please Come to Boston” – William Michael Morgan
Songwriters: Dave Loggins

My pick for March is William Michael Morgan’s cover of the Dave Loggins song, “Please Come to Boston.” The song is such a classic, and Morgan’s rich traditional voice is perfect for it. The song has such a bittersweet feeling, and it’s heartbreaking in all of the best ways. The female background vocals lend so much to the track, and I’ve had it on repeat since its release a few weeks ago.


Erica Zisman, Contributing Writer

Pick: “4 Goodyears” – Brett Sheroky
Songwriters: Andrew Peebles, Brett Sheroky, Daniel Wilson

Though a lot of great songs came out this month, it’s Brett Sheroky’s newest release, “4 Goodyears” that I keep coming back to. Sheroky is one of those artists that create a story and put it to song. “4 Goodyears” is another exemplary example of that.

Lyrically, the song is a masterpiece, and the nostalgia that the song embodies is almost palpable. I always respect songwriters for sharing their truth with their fanbase. Vulnerability and story-telling always outweigh radio-friendly and catchy tunes for me. With that being said, this song can appeal to both kinds of country lovers.

Sheroky is a one-of-a-kind talent, and I encourage everyone to go listen to “4 Goodyears” ASAP.


Listen to our picks on our “What We’re Listening To” playlist on Spotify and be sure to give it a follow, so you can catch our monthly updates.

What We’re Listening To: February Picks

NYCountry Swag’s “What We’re Listening To” playlist highlights the wide range of our team’s favorite songs and artists when it comes to the country music genre.  At the end of the day, we are all fans first with a passion for country music and are eager to share with you all what we’ve got on repeat each month.

Find below each of our team member’s favorite songs and why in our February picks. Then be sure to give our Spotify account a follow and listen to our favorite tracks!





Stephanie Wagner, Founder

Pick: “Before You” – Drew Baldridge
Songwriters: Chris Lucas, Drew Baldridge, Preston Brust

This month I chose Drew Baldridge’s “Before You”. Released back in March 2020, this is a song I constantly find myself going back to. It’s a beautiful love song that tells the story of falling in love and everything you were (and weren’t) before meeting that person. As Baldridge used for his real-life proposal, this is the perfect tune for an engagement, first dance, or anniversary celebration.
“Before you, I was half the man I am now, baby // Didn’t know it was you I was cravin’ // If I could go back and rewrite pages // I know what I’d do // I’d step on the gas // And I’d hurry up through // All those wasted nights on love I thought I knew // Before you”

Christina Bosch, Managing Editor 

Pick: “Tired of Flying” – Ryan Kinder feat Brandy Clark
Songwriters: Jen Schott, Luke Sheets, Ryan Kinder

I’ve been a fan of every song that Ryan Kinder has released for the past six years. His voice is unmatched, it’s unique and his storytelling abilities are what country music is all about. Recently, he announced he will be dropping an album full of features, and “Tired Of Flying” is the second track previewed from his new project.

In a time of such anxiety and uncertainty, it’s normal to feel completely drained and as a mom, I have felt so tired this past year. The lyrics of “Tired Of Flying” hit me so hard, when Brandy Clark comes in and her gentle voice sings “Does the sun wish it could just stop shining? it cuts deep.

“As I look out the window, I wonder, where the sparrow, goes to find shelter from the storm / Does that blue-grey sky get tired of crying, does that lonely bird get tired of flying?”

Being a mother is most days, a very thankless job that comes with a burden and obstacles that many do not ever get to see. I’m grateful for the refuge that music brings me, the healing, and country songs like this one that really showcases the power of lyrics and how important a song can be.


Lucie Bernheim, Contributing Writer

Pick: “To Be Loved By You” – Parker McCollum
Songwriters: Parker McCollum, Rhett Akins

I’m not entirely sure what it is I love about this song. I do really like the lyrics and the story McCollum tells, but I think what draws me in most is the melody and his vocal delivery. It’s country, but it feels kind of desperate and pleading in that indie-rock way which is something I often gravitate towards. “Well I’ve been running as fast as I can/And you’ll never get over what you can’t understand/Pissed off, hanging up the telephone/Forever ain’t fair, I’m heading home”. It’s exciting to see a Texas artist blowing up the way McCollum is, and if this new track is any indication, I can’t wait for what’s next.


Dylan Bestler, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Home Sweet” – Russell Dickerson
Songwriters: Russell Dickerson, Charles Kelley, Casey Brown

For me, “Home Sweet” was the stand-out song from Russell Dickerson’s latest record, Southern Symphony. Even if you believe the “home is where you are” message is becoming a cliché, the images Dickerson describes (and the pictures in his new video) make their relationship feel real, relatable, and extra special. One lyric I found interesting was: Went from all-inclusive margaritas in Malibu / To prayin’ we could pay rent this month. It is funny that couples who are barely scraping by pay for this expensive wedding and honeymoon. In a way, it is a sign of real love, like ‘memories we share are more important than finances’ – it’s cute. The song’s catchy chorus also makes it almost impossible not to sing along to.


Kristina Callahan, Contributing Writer

Pick: “I Bet You Wanna Know” – Priscilla Block
Songwriters: Priscilla Block, Sarah Jones, Stone Aielli

I first heard of Priscilla Block during one of my late-night Tik Tok scrolling fests and immediately loved her infectious personality and catchy lyrics. Her song “Just About Over You” has been a huge hit and can now be heard on your favorite country radio station and even got her signed to a record label. I was anxious to hear what other music she’d release so cue her follow-up single: “I Bet You Wanna Know.” Where “Just About Over You” is exactly what the title suggests, almost being over someone but then seeing them out, the singer-songwriter’s new song is about having the upper hand and knowing you’re on that person’s mind.

“You just wanna know where I’m at tonight // If I’m all up on someone new I like // Busch Light sippin’, midnight kissin’ // Did it lead us back to my place? // Did he drop me off or did he stay // ‘Til the sun rose? // Did we lose our clothes? // How far we’d go? // I bet you wanna know”

Block has such a fun, carefree edge to her that makes her and her lyrics so relatable. I can’t wait to hear more of what she has up her sleeve in the coming months.


Erin Crosby, Contributing Writer

Pick: “California, Missouri” – Kassi Ashton
Songwriters: Shane McAnally, Kassi Ashton, Luke Laird

During Alex Hall’s virtually intimate Six Strings release show, hosted by the singer-songwriter hub of Nashville, The Bluebird Cafe, Kassi Ashton performed a stripped rendition of her 2018 debut single “California, Missouri”. In such a setting, artists are given room to showcase their unfiltered vocals while portraying the sentiment that stemmed the song’s conception through performance. And, the anguish yet tender regard involved in the track then laid out for the viewers, including a small group of musicians surrounding her in the round such as Tenille Townes and Brad Tursi, was palpable.

Lyrically, “California, Missouri” astounds those listeners that, similar to Ashton, feel like the outsider in their own place of birth.


Caleigh DeCaprio, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Wish For The World” – Ryan Hurd
Songwriters: Aaron Eshuis, Joe Clemmons, Ryan Hurd

When Ryan Hurd released his new song “Chasing After You” with his wife Maren Morris earlier this month, it really made me want to dive back into all of his music. One song that I really loved hearing again was “Wish for the World”. It’s a humbling piece off of Hurd’s Platonic EP about the simple things in life that are sometimes overlooked but ultimately end up having a big impact, even if we don’t know it at the time. This song has always provided a refreshing and much-needed reminder, but the message was particularly nice to hear at a time like this.  As I was listening, I couldn’t help but think about the way the meaning of a song can change, or even the memories it can bring back, depending on what stage of life you’re listening to it in.

Pointing out the little things, Hurd mentions the cup of coffee you drink while you’re soaking in the morning, the power of apologies and forgiveness, music, friendship, everything that the Summertime brings, Christmas time, and more. However, the most special thing of all is the love you have for your person, and your ability to give them it.

“A little more starin’ at the stars / A little more sittin’ round the fire / A little less comin’ up with reasons not to chase your heart’s desire / But when it really comes down to it / If just one wish could come true / I wish everyone could find someone to love like I love you”

In terms of lyrical expression, unique sound, artistry, and genuine personality, Ryan Hurd is one of my favorites in music, and the reason for this easily shines through in this song. His live version of “Wish for the World”, which he likes to close his shows with, is featured on his EOM EP. I really love listening to this version because of the way it allows the love he has for his fans and his music to really stand out, which is such a huge part of what this song is about. Especially this past year, Hurd’s music has had an extra special meaning to me ever since I went to his show in Philly last March, not knowing that within the next few days the world as we knew it would shut down. For right now, his music symbolizes the last time my world was normal, and the last concert I’d get to go to for a while. This song, and specifically the live version, takes me back to one great night spent at a small intimate venue, where I got to sing and dance along to one of my favorite artists – my absolute favorite thing to do. Right now, my wish would be to be able to relive that night.

Alexa Ebner, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Chasing After You” – Maren Morris and Ryan Hurd
Songwriters: Brinley Addington, Jerry Flowers

Ryan Hurd and Maren Morris are two of my favorite artists. I am so happy that this unstoppable duo recorded this beautiful song together. The song has a passionate feel and highlights both of the singer’s vocals, as they switch off between verses. It features distinct guitar licks that make you want to play it over and over. The song details an intense romance that isn’t a straight road. There is also an accompanying music video, which encapsulates the sultry vibe of the song and the story behind it with the muted tones and shots of the two singers holding each other. “Chasing After You” is a gorgeous song, and feels very soothing and comforting to listen to.

Julia Grubbs, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Just Look At You” – Carson Beyer
Songwriters: Carson Beyer, Sergio Sanchez

I don’t know whether it’s just the winter blues or the fact that it’s been a year and we’re still doing this, but I am finding it harder and harder to keep the mood and spirits high. Sometimes I force myself out of it by pumping some jams and having a little dance party, and others I curl up and wallow. The latter times are when I’ll listen to a song like Carson Beyer’s new “Just Look at You” for all the comfort and heartwarming love I need. Telling the story of when things just don’t go your way, there’s still someone there that sees the beauty in just your being. An intimate love song like this with Beyer’s soothing tones reminds us that everything will be okay, and it rings with the only everlasting truth to get us through: a deep true love. The soft electric guitar encapsulates the deep vibes of winter, but somehow the song seems to warm you like a campfire on a bitter night. And just like that fire, “Just Look at You” provides that light leading the way into the future unknown.

Molly Holmberg, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Humble” – Ian Munsick
Songwriters: Dave Villa, Ian Munsick, Jamie Kenney

I’ve been listening to Ian Munsick for the last few months and his ability to tell a story in a song is unparalleled. He started releasing songs from, an upcoming album titled Coyote Cry, in 2020. “Humble” is his first song of 2021 and it fits in with his previous releases like a missing puzzle piece. From the intro’s first few beats to the chorus, his modern soundscape draws you in. Lyrics talk about how a real cowboy acts, with hands in the dirt, boots on his feet, and calluses on his hands. Despite who a cowboy is, women tend to always get drawn in. With the sounds and rhythms found in his songs, there is no doubt he is pioneering within the country music industry. Already making a wave, I would keep an eye out for Munsick as he releases more music.
“He ain’t too strong to cry or too proud to pray // Give the shirt off his back and nah, he ain’t afraid to rumble // A cowboy’s always humble”

Pick: “Should’ve Known Better” – Carly Pearce
Songwriters: Carly Pearce, Emily Shackleton, Jordan Reynolds

With so many country hits written about love and loss I’m always excited by songs that come at the topic from a different lens. This single, the follow up to ‘Next Girl’ and second off Pearce’s new EP, ’29’ seems from the title like it’ll come from the perspective of the broken-hearted. Instead, the blame alternates throughout between the one who was hurt (‘I should’ve known better’) and the one who did the hearting (‘you should’ve known better’). The melody and descriptive lyrics will resonate with anyone who has been on either side of a tough breakup. I’m very much looking forward to the new era of Pearce’s music!

“You sold me on the fantasy / Damn, and it all felt real to me / Thought you were the man in the photograph / I Should’ve known better than that / I gave you my heart, you let it go to waste / You made me do the leaving and you made me take the blame / Does it make you feel good, to make me feel bad? / Yeah, you should’ve known better than that”


Nicole Piering, Contributing Writer

Pick: “29” – Carly Pearce
Songwriters: Josh Osborne, Shane McAnally, Carly Pearce

My pick for February is Carly Pearce’s “29,” the title track off her stellar new album. With true country instrumentation and powerful lyrics, the song is bound to be one of the strongest released in 2021. The self-reflective, banjo-laden track tells the tale of Pearce’s last year in her 20s, which didn’t go quite as planned. Whether you’ve been in similar shoes or not, the song is truly an ode to life not living up to your expectations for it. For Pearce, it focuses heavily on her marriage and subsequent divorce, both of which happened at the age of 29. The chorus sums it up, Pearce lamenting, “But for me, twenty-nine/ Is the year that I got married and divorced/ I held on for dear life, but I still fell off the horse/ From a Miss to a Mrs. / Then the other way around/ The yеar I was gonna live it up/ Now I’m never gonna livе it down.”


Erica Zisman, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Common Ground” – Heath Sanders
Songwriters: Heath Sanders, Jay Brunswick, Jeremy Bussey

The second I heard the title-track, “Common Ground” off Heath Sanders’ major-label debut, I knew it would be my song pick for this month. Although the song was not intended to be about the social climate we have all been living in for the last year, it perfectly personifies everything that has been going on in a simple and provoking song. The lyrics, the melody, and the overall vibe of the song is really the perfect introduction to his artistry

“And we’re all on a different journey / We’re all findin’ our own way / We’re all livin’, we’re all learnin’ / From the cradle to the grave / We’re all weak, we’re all strong / We’re all right and we’re all wrong / And when time runs out / We all end up in common ground”

Sanders is an incredible singer-songwriter, and the fact that he chose to put a song like “Common Ground” on his EP proves that he wants to make a difference through music. The power of connection is vital, and music does it best.

Listen to our picks on our “What We’re Listening To” playlist on Spotify and be sure to give it a follow, so you can catch our monthly updates.

Pops Songs That Would Make Great Country Songs

What makes a song a country song? Is it the instruments? The lyrics? The artist? The label? Those aspects play a role in a song being deemed “country,” but when asking fans what made them fall in love with the genre in the first place, many would credit the visuals and stories country artists depict in their music. However, songs like this are not unique to the genre; there are plenty of pop songs that do the same. Here are a few pop songs we think would sound great covered by a Nashville-based artist.


Stephanie Wagner, Founder

Pick: “Say You Won’t Let Go” – James Arthur
Songwriters: Andrew Frampton, Daniel O’Donoghue, James Arthur, Mark Sheehan, Neil Ormandy, Stephen Kipner, Steve Soloman
Who Should Cover It?: Mitchell Tenpenny

James Arthur’s “Say You Won’t Let Go” is one of my all-time favorite pop songs, and as we think about which songs could have their own country versions, I can’t help but feel like this song could be at the top of that list. At its core, the song tells a story of falling in love from the very first meeting and taking the listener through all of those moments when you knew you loved that person and hoping and knowing those moments will last a lifetime. Like true country music, the song makes you feel like it’s actually happening to you and you can envision the story playing out perfectly.

“I knew I loved you then // But you’d never know // ‘Cause I played it cool when I was scared of letting go // I know I needed you // But I never showed // But I wanna stay with you until we’re grey and old // Just say you won’t let go”

When I think about a country version of this song, I can easily picture Mitchell Tenpenny singing it. Adding his own unique flair and distinct vocals to the track, Tenpenny has such a way of telling a story and making the listener feel each and every lyric that this feels like a song that would really resonate with his fans. I’d love to see a cover of it from him!


Christina Bosch, Managing Editor 

Pick: “Let It Go” – James Bay
James Bay, Paul Barry
Who Should Cover It?:

Although I do love all genres of music, I have to admit that for the most part, my playlists are mostly country music. Once in a while, though I will hear a song on Top 40 or Pop and be captivated. That was the case with “Let It Go” by James Bay. His simple falsetto voice and storytelling are right on par for the country music world.

“I used to recognize myself / It’s funny how reflections change / When we’re becoming something else / I think it’s time to walk away / So come on, let it go / Just let it be / Why don’t you be you / And I’ll be me?”

I would love to hear someone like HARDY put their own spin on the song, maybe grunge it up a little bit and put his signature sound on it.


Lucie Bernheim, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Thinking of You” – Katy Perry
Katy Perry
Who Should Cover It?: Kelsea Ballerini or Brett Eldredge

Katy Perry is an artist who defined so much of the music for my generation. Many of her biggest songs air on the side of pure, danceable pop, but she also has a vulnerable side. An early hit of hers, “Thinking Of You” is one of my favorites from the last couple of decades. It easily could be a country song based on its melodic and lyrical composition. It’s vivid with imagery and metaphors, with lyrics like, “You’re like an Indian summer in the middle of winter/Like a hard candy with a surprise center/How do I get better once I’ve had the best/You said there’s tons of fish in the water, so the waters I will test”.

Perry’s ability to tell an intimate and epically heartbreaking story is so country. So many of the best country songs are tragic and like journal entries. If you add some more harmony, more guitar, and maybe some banjo or mandolin, it could be a stunning country hit.

As far as who I would love to cover the song, if it were a female, Kelsea Ballerini would 100% nail it. She has the raw emotion and vocal empathy to do an amazing rendition. If a guy were to sing it, Brett Eldredge would also do an incredible job. He has so much vulnerability and passion in his voice that he would without a doubt make it his own.


Dylan Bestler, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Lucky” – Jason Mraz feat. Colbie Caillat
Songwriters: Colbie Caillat, Jason Mraz, Timothy Fagan
Who Should Cover It?: Kenny Chesney & Tenille Townes

Virginia-native, Jason Mraz has always been a great storyteller and his musical-style is soft and acoustic, making him a great fit in Nashville! Mraz been making hits since 2002, my favorite of which being his Grammy-winning collaboration with Colbie Caillat, “Lucky.” Its chill, beachy vibe along with its sweet lyrics make it a great song about being in love with your best friend.

I think it makes perfect sense to have Kenny Chesney sing the male part. His subtle voice will fit perfectly into the simple, island melody. For the female part, I want to hear Tenille Townes sing it. She is an up-and-coming artist with a beautiful, unique voice that would compliment Chesney well. All it needs is some banjo backed by a steel guitar to make it a wonderful country cut.


Kristina Callahan, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Since U Been Gone”
Lukasz Gottwald, Martin Sandberg
Who Should Cover It?:
Kelsea Ballerini or Lauren Alaina

If there’s one thing country music does well, it’s break-up songs. “Since U Been Gone” is probably one of the most iconic breakup songs of our generation but it’s not a country song. You won’t hear it on country radio or any country playlist. It’s considered “pop” but anyone who listens to this song could easily close their eyes and hear it turned into a killer country song.

“But since you been gone // I can breathe for the first time// I’m so moving on, yeah, yeah // Thanks to you //Now I get what I want //Since you been gone”

There aren’t many artists that can cross genres, but Kelly Clarkson is one of them. Her powerhouse vocals, bubbly personality, and southern twang make her the perfect fit for a country artist. I’d love to see Kelsea Ballerini or Lauren Alaina to cover this classic, both have already written their fair share of break-up songs and have the sass and energy to do the song justice. As for Clarkson, I’m sure I’m not the only one who hopes and prays the Texas native will put out an epic country album sometime in her career.


Erin Crosby, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Best Part of Me” – Ed Sheeran feat. Yebba
Songwriters: Abbey Smith, Benjamin Levin, Ed Sheeran
Who Should Cover It?: Chris Stapleton & wife, Morgane Stapleton

From the 2019 No. 6 Collaborations Project, Ed Sheeran’s “Best Part of Me” with American singer-songwriter YEBBA eloquently suits the vocal ability and artistry present. The lyrics and honest storyline is enough to give listeners heart smiles and fight tears welling up in the eyes. Production-wise, the delicate finger-picking and soft melody only emphasize the significance of the subject material – undeserving love.

Similar to Ed Sheeran, Chris Stapleton stands out from the crowd with his unfiltered, sentimental tracks where lyrics hold the listeners’ ear from beginning to end. Both are talented entertainers and storytellers as well as seasoned, guitar-amplified musicians.

The “Starting Over” Kentucky native force-field who has found himself in the most acknowledged and prestigious class of artists after a few short years, covers a broad range of music, promoting headbangers and the most intensely passionate air-guitar mock-ups around town. Though, despite Stapleton’s tendency to hit the electric, he’s likely to execute a stripped-down and intimate performance as well with his wife, Morgane Stapleton by his side.

A reimagined duet of Sheeran’s “Best Part of Me” with vocal contribution from both Stapleton’s would only add fire to the flame of a well-executed, venerable production. While, at the same time, allowing Stapleton to incorporate his well-known, powerful rasp and unspeakable range to the mix may grant the song a life of its own – separate from itself, from where it’s been.


Caleigh DeCaprio, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Lose Somebody” – Kygo and One Republic
Songwriters: Philip Plested, Alex Dilicata, Alysa Vanderheym, Jake Torrey, Kyrre Gorvell-Dahll, Morten Ristorp, Ryan Tedder
Who Should Cover It?: Brett Young

This song has been on my go-to/everyday playlist this past year. It’s a heartbreak song but also one I find myself listening to on my runs. I find it to be very similar to the way Brett Young can deliver a catchy upbeat heartbreak song like “Left Side of Leavin’ ” or “Memory Won’t Let Me”. When I think of my favorite country voices, Brett Young immediately comes to mind. I love how he vocally delivers each song and lyrically, this is exactly the kind of song he would sing. He has a way of telling a story that makes you pay attention to every word. I’d most look forward to him hitting “until it’s gone” just before the chorus of “Lose Somebody”.

“You let go / And now i’m holding on / I guess you don’t know what you got / Until it’s gone / Sometimes you gotta lose somebody / Just to find out, you really love someone /  Oh-Oh / And I do and I do and I do, yeah / Sometimes you gotta lose somebody ”


Abby Kaye-Phillips, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Before You Go” – Lewis Capaldi 
Ben Kohn, Pete Kelleher, Phil Plested, Tom Barnes, Lewis Capaldi
Who Should Cover It?:
Brett Eldredge

Memorable melodies and lyrics that tell a story are the marks of a great country song, and Lewis Capaldi’s “Before You Go” would sound amazing stripped down and covered with a twang. The track is full of imagery (heartbreak described as “troubled water running cold” under the surface) and unlike most songs, there are question marks throughout the lyrics, allowing the listener to ask ‘what if?’ right along with the character. I would love to hear Brett Eldredge cover this song because his tone and heart would be a perfect fit for the powerful ballad.


Erica Zisman, Contributing Writer

Pick: “drivers license” – Olivia Rodrigo
Songwriters: Daniel Nigro, Olivia Rodrigo
Who Should Cover It?: Devin Dawson

My favorite thing about country music is the story-telling aspect. Truthfully, I believe that any song that has that “it factor” can be made into a killer country song. Olivia Rodrigo’s hit “drivers license” is one of the newest songs out there that I have fallen in love with. The entire song is a heartbreaking story about lost love, so I can really see the lyrics with a country melody.

“And I know we weren’t perfect, but I’ve never felt this way for no one / And I just can’t imagine how you could be so okay now that I’m gone / Guess you didn’t mean what you wrote in that song about me / ‘Cause you said forever, now I drive alone past your street”

After learning about it on Devin Dawson’s livestream, I immediately thought about how cool it would be to see his version of the song, potentially from the male perspective. Dawson also shared on Instagram that he really liked this song, so maybe it’ll actually happen! The moodiness and the overall vibe of the song fits in so well with Dawson’s catalog of incredible original songs.


What are some pop songs that you would love to see country music artists cover? Head to Twitter & let us know! 

What We’re Listening To: January Picks

NYCountry Swag’s “What We’re Listening To” playlist highlights the wide range of our team’s favorite songs and artists when it comes to the country music genre.  At the end of the day, we are all fans first with a passion for country music and are eager to share with you all what we’ve got on repeat each month.

Find below each of our team member’s favorite songs and why in our January picks. Then be sure to give our Spotify account a follow and listen to our favorite tracks!





Stephanie Wagner, Founder

Pick: “Beer Don’t” – Morgan Wallen
Songwriters: Jake Mitchell, Michael Hardy, Morgan Wallen

It’s been a little over a week since Morgan Wallen released his monster of a project, Dangerous: The Double Album, and let’s face it, from top to bottom it’s pretty much the only thing I’ve been listening to over and over again. It’s nearly impossible to choose a favorite of the thirty songs, but something about “Beer Don’t” just brings me right to summertime concerts at Jones Beach. This song is an instant mood booster and I can not wait to be enjoying it in the pit with a beer in hand while all of our fellow country music fans sing back every word to the tailgate anthem.


Christina Bosch, Managing Editor 

Pick: “Livin’ The Dream” – Morgan Wallen
Songwriters: Ben Burgess, Jacob Durret, Michael Hardy, Morgan Wallen

I feel like I am responsible for at least half of the insane amount of streams that Morgan Wallen has racked up over the past 12 days since releasing his sophomore record, Dangerous: The Double Album. While I could write a novel about each of the songs and why I can’t stop listening, one of the most poignant to me is “Livin’ the Dream”. In our world, where all that is shown on social media is a true highlight reel, it’s important to fully grasp how things may not be what they seem. The cadence of the track portrays the constant going, going, going that artists usually feel as well as the exhausting act that needs to be painted of living the “perfect life”.

“Judgin’ by my long hair, you might think I don’t care / Sittin’ here, sippin’ and bitchin’ about a spot where / People would kill to be, kill to be, kill to be / But y’all, it ain’t as good as it seems, this livin’ the dream is / Killin’ me, killin’ me, killin’ me”


Lucie Bernheim, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Better Than We Found It” – Maren Morris
Songwriters: Jessie Jo Dillon, Jimmy Robbins, Maren Morris, Laura Veltz

Maren Morris’ “Better Than We Found It” has been on repeat lately as I reflect on the last two months, which in some ways feel like two separate years. But I’m allowing myself to be hopeful this week. The song is gorgeous sonically – Morris’ voice on the chorus soars, and the drums sound like a march, which is the perfect parallel to the lyrics. “When lines of tomorrow are drawn/Can I live with the side that I chose to be on?/Will we sit on our hands, do nothing about it?/Or will we leave this world better than we found it?”. Many things will remain unsolved even after Wednesday’s historical event, but we will be moving towards a kinder future, and I’m on board with that. As Morris and Vince Gill sing on their song “Dear Hate”, released 4 years ago, “love’s gonna conquer all”.


Dylan Bestler, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Still Goin Down” – Morgan Wallen
Songwriters: Michael Hardy, Morgan Wallen, Ryan Vojtesak

Morgan Wallen will be the most talked-about artist in Nashville for the next few months—perhaps for all of 2021. With 30 tracks (32 on the Target edition), Dangerous: The Double Album was a lot to take in, but it was 100+ minutes of genuine, enjoyable music. I was going to just pick my favorite song to include as my pick, which would probably be “Sand in My Boots” or “865,” but “Still Goin Down” is the one I constantly find myself singing in my head. It’s super catchy (no surprise, it’s a HARDY co-wrote) and paints a nice picture of a southern, Friday night.

He says “Ain’t groundbreaking. Makin’ sound for them drop-it-down tailgaters. But y’all that’s all I know how to say.” It’s funny how he knows these types of songs are cliché in the industry but still cuts them on the record anyway. Although he shows a lot of vulnerability on the first half of the record, the country way of life will always be a part of him and it wouldn’t be a Morgan Wallen album if he didn’t include songs like this one

“We’re sippin’ clear, drinkin’ beer on a Friday night / Every country girl got on her cut offs / Shakin’ her hips, take a trip, buddy tell me I’m a liar / Still circle up big trucks around a fire / Still kickin’ up some dust behind the tires / Call it cliché, but hey, just take it from me / It’s still goin’ down out in the country”


Kristina Callahan, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Giving You Up” – Kameron Marlowe
Songwriters: Kameron Marlowe

I always love finding new artists who are just coming on to the country music scene. I first heard Kameron Marlowe’s song “Giving You Up” on Sirius XM’s The Highway back in the fall and instantly loved the lyrics and meaning behind the song.

“Cause I’m giving you up // Just like I did them Marlboro Lights // And I’m giving you up // The same way I did the whiskey on ice // And it’s all so tough // You turn me into a man I don’t even recognize // I’m giving you up // The same way you did me out in the moonlight”

Marlowe wrote a breakup song almost everyone can relate to- finally having to say goodbye to someone who once meant so much, something country music excels at time and time again.


Erin Crosby, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Here For It (Live)” – Lily Rose
Songwriters: Lily Rose, Sarah Forbes

Lily Rose is one of those artists that I found on a whim. Someone on Instagram had put up a song of hers, and as someone who is always looking to find new music, I immediately started listening. Normally the songs that the people from my hometown or the plethora of entertainment industry folk post are not my cup of tea. It can be difficult to find music that speaks to you or even falls in your lane at all, and mixing that fact with the widely diverse group of people that are on your following list is almost a lost cause. Every once in a while though, you find something. Something that speaks to you. A piece of gold that was almost mistaken for a shiny, stained rock.

“Here for It (Live)” is one of those. As a sucker for a good, soothing presence of the piano, Rose caught my attention before her lyrics had soared deliciously smooth and easy over the instrument. And, when her voice did appear like the first hint of pink over the horizon before the sun had yet to peak its way out, I knew. I knew this artist was someone to look out for. And I knew this song would be played on a loop for weeks to come.


Caleigh DeCaprio, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Line By Line” – JP Saxe and Maren Morris
Songwriters: Jimmy Robbins, JP Saxe, Maren Morris, Ryan Marrone

The lyrics and the meaning behind this song make it one of my all-time favorites and it’s only been out a week. JP Saxe and Maren Morris wrote this song together about their fellow songwriter, significant others, Julia Michaels and Ryan Hurd. JP Saxe and Julia Michaels met the day that they wrote “If the World Was Ending” together, which a year ago this time, I had on repeat constantly. I’ve been a huge fan of Maren Morris, Ryan Hurd, their music separately, and their story together for years now. On top of that, much like Maren, I am a sucker for songs about songs. Not only is this a beautifully written song and message, but it was inspired and written by two couples and four artists whose songwriting and stories I already loved so much.

“When it comes to you I’m still tryna find the words / A love too big for a love song / If I try to sum it up I know I’d get it wrong / sometimes if it don’t sound right / I apologize I just said it cause it rhymed” When the song was released, the two artists completed the chorus in their social media posts:

JP Saxe: “four chords, three minutes, you’d never fit in it, so I just take you line by line … (what happens when songwriters write songs about loving other songwriters..)

Maren Morris: “to our muses: we’ll be writing about you for the rest of our lives”


Julia Grubbs, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Redwood Tree” – Cam
Songwriters: Tyler Johnson, Anders Mouridsen, Cam

Cam stole my heart as soon as I heard “Burning House”; she captured emotion through a story in a way I hadn’t heard before. Her tone and irregular musicality create a complete depiction of life in an extremely unique and articulate manner. Her new album The Otherside follows suit, with lyricism that is unparalleled. “Redwood Tree” spoke to me this month, because though I am far from getting to explore said redwood tree living in quarantine in New York City, I can feel and desire the expansiveness she sings of. The beat sings to adventure in the wilderness, and the lyrics emulate the feeling of stuck we all feel right now.
“Don’t know what you have when you’re young/ Oooh, but you’ll know what you had when it’s gone”
It gives me hope of brighter days to come, a reminder to be grateful for things in the present moment, and an incitement to continue to find adventure. We will see the beautiful world outside our houses again, and nature will be there to share its beauty.

“I saw the world, You saw my parents grow old / You’ve got your roots, And I’ve got the wind, The wind in my soul”


Rebekah Milsted, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Undivided” – Tim McGraw Featuring Tyler Hubbard
Songwriters: Chris Loocke, Tyler Hubbard

My January pick is “Undivided” by Tim Mcgraw and Tyler Hubbard. It’s my pick because it’s truly a song that was well needed in today’s world. It’s the perfect reminder that yes, we all have different views but one thing we can all agree on is we need more love and less judgment in the world.


Erica Zisman, Contributing Writer

Pick: “God, Sex, & Shame” – Lacy Cavalier
Songwriters: Lacy Cavalier

I have been a big fan of Lacy Cavalier for a while now. Her ability to blur genres, create masterful lyrics, and speak her truth is so relatable and genuine. Her newest song “God, Sex, & Shame”, my January pick, might be her most honest and vulnerable to date.

“There’s all these fucking rules about heaven / I don’t even know what I believe in / But I’m tired of hearing how I won’t get in / If I ain’t no cuz I ain’t a virgin”

Opening up about growing up religious and the pressures associated with being a certain way, Cavalier bears her soul on the track. Moreover, her music video is nothing short of spectacular. I am always rooting for Lacy, and I hope more and more people fall in love with her one of a kind talent and craft.

Listen to our picks on our “What We’re Listening To” playlist on Spotify and be sure to give it a follow, so you can catch our monthly updates.

What We’re Listening To: November Picks

NYCountry Swag’s “What We’re Listening To” playlist highlights the wide range of our team’s favorite songs and artists when it comes to the country music genre.  At the end of the day, we are all fans first with a passion for country music and are eager to share with you all what we’ve got on repeat each month.

Find below each of our team member’s favorite songs and why in our November picks. Then be sure to give our Spotify account a follow and listen to our favorite tracks!





Stephanie Wagner, Founder

Pick: “Doing Fine” – Ryan Kinder feat. Sykamore
Songwriters: Jordan Ostrom, Justin Morgan, Ryan Kinder

This month, I’ve found myself often listening to this brand new track from Ryan Kinder and Sykamore, “Doing Fine”. The song is a gritty break-up anthem for those trying to move on, but also hoping the other person is having just as much as a struggle with it.

“I hope you have to lie when someone asks you how you’re doing // You tell em you’re alright but you’re barely getting through it // It’s easier if we hurt the same, if you’re a wreck when you hear my name // I need your heart to break like mine // I’m not ok if you’re doing fine”

“Doing Fine” is one of those songs where you can feel the emotion in every line and together, Kinder and Sykamore, do an incredible job of displaying the message of the song through the heartfelt vocals in a collaboration that feels perfectly natural.


Christina Bosch, Managing Editor 

Pick: “Redwood Tree” – Cam
Songwriters: Tyler Johnson, Anders Mouridsen, Cam

Opening Cam’s absolutely stellar sophomore album, The Otherside, “Redwood Tree” is a simple concept about growing up, growing old, and the decisions we make as each day passes. From first listen, each lyric resonated with my life while Cam’s soaring harmonies and perfect tone set the stage for the rest of the project. I so often think of the future and spend my life worrying the present away and then when I look back, I realize how I probably missed so many joyous moments. The imagery of a giant redwood tree watching the world change and conform around it is fascinating.

“Don’t know what you have when you’re young, but you’ll know what you had when it’s gone”

I went back and forth trying to choose which song to highlight this month from this album and the fact that so many songs stood out is a true testament to the artistry of Cam.


Lucie Bernheim, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Changes” – Cam
Songwriters: Harry Styles, Lori McKenna, Tom Hull, Tyler Johnson

When I first learned that Lori McKenna and Harry Styles had a song on Cam’s outstanding album The Otherside, I knew I would be obsessed. The idea of them in the same room still gives me chills. When I was a freshman in high school, Cam’s debut, Untamed, Harry’s debut Harry Styles, and Lori’s GRAMMY-winning The Bird & The Rifle soundtracked that tumultuous and incredibly formative year. I’ll never forget the first time I listened to all those records, all during study hall – they truly changed my life and shaped me into the person I am today.
Four years later, in an even more unprecedented time, their work, new and old, still moves me. I’ve only been away at college for three months, and in some ways, I feel like I’ve remained the same. But then there are moments where something hits you and you realized things have changed, big and small. “So, I go / ‘Cause I don’t wanna feel like you don’t know me anymore / Don’t recognize my face”. Cam’s poignant vocal delivery makes it dreamy and even more introspective, and Harry’s faraway whistle at the end of the song makes you realize that things will always be changing – something I’ve never really been good at. As I return home for winter break, I keep thinking about the passage of time, and whether we like it or not, sometimes you outgrow the things you love most, and sometimes, a little time away is just what you need for it to fit again.

Dylan Bestler, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Gone” – Dierks Bentley

Songwriters: Nicolle Galyon, Ben Johnson, Niko Moon

I mentally made this my November pick before it was even released; that’s how much confidence I have in Dierks Bentley. After The Mountain and The Hot Country Knights album, I was itching for new Dierks material and we were lucky enough to get a song as clever and catchy as this one. It can also be interpreted in two ways: for those going through a breakup, and for those just totally sick of being in quarantine. Giving off “Drunk On A Plane” and “Somewhere On A Beach” vibes, this song will surely become a hit for Dierks and I can’t wait to see which direction he takes his new album in.

“I’ve been a million places but they’re all up in head  / Over-drinking overthinking ever since you left / I’ve been gone, I’ve been gone / I’ve been sitting on the couch watching TV all day long”


Kristina Callahan, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Hell of a View” – Eric Church
Songwriters: Eric Church, Casey Beathard and Monty Criswell

If there’s one thing that Eric Church knows how to do, it’s write a love song. Before “Hell of a View” he had “Love Your Love the Most” and “Wrecking Ball” just to name a few. Chief brings the story of two people running away from their hometown and risking it all for love in “Hell of a View.”

This ain’t for everybody // Toes hanging off the ledge // Like we got nothin’ to lose // Ain’t always heaven, baby // This livin’ on the edge // You holdin’ me holdin’ you // It’s a hell of a view

Church’s songwriting has always been one of the reasons he’s one of my favorite artists. That and his rebel attitude toward the norms is refreshing in a world where so many are trying to conform to a certain standard. The singer-songwriter has been releasing new songs throughout 2020 and the pandemic so fingers crossed for a new album on the horizon.


Erin Crosby, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Nashville, TN” – Chris Stapleton
Songwriters: Chris Stapleton, Morgane Stapleton

With a new collection of songs from Chris Stapleton, we knew there had to be at least one exceptional track living among them. For the “Tennessee Whiskey” singer’s fourth studio album Starting Over, “Nashville, TN” is it. Despite Stapleton’s attractive raspy tone and ability to quiet a room with one note, he is first and foremost a songwriter. The vulnerability through music portrayed by this iconic, yet still relatively new performer, comes down to the words written and, eventually, spoken with a melody and a guitar. “Nashville, TN” is everything Stapleton brings to country music. It’s simple, conversational and beautifully inviting to all those who listened, is listening and will listen.


Caleigh DeCaprio, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Live With” – Keith Urban
Songwriters: Bobby Pinson, Jon Nite, Zach Kale

I knew this song was going to be one of my favorites when I was dancing at the wheel by the time the first chorus came around. This was one of those songs that I loved so much the first time I heard it that I had to restart it before it was even over. Then I listened to it on repeat until I knew all the words. Now it’s one of the songs I listen to every time I’m in the car because it has me dancing and singing along to it everytime I hear it, never failing to put me in a good mood. From the lyrics to the music, this song radiates good vibes. 

It’s all about living your life to the fullest. The one you want to live, not the one that others want you to live. It’s about being able to look back on your life at the end of it and have no regrets of the choices that you’ve made. It reminds us that the best parts of life may not always be the easiest and while chasing your dreams may be scary, it doesn’t mean it won’t be worth it. Even failure can be better than not knowing.


Alexa Ebner, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Christmas Always Finds Me” – Ingrid Andress
Songwriters: Derrick Southerland, Ingrid Andress, Sam Ellis

Earlier this month, Ingrid Andress gifted fans with a Christmas song to kick off the holiday season. As expected, the rising Nashville star delivers a tear jerker that tugs at the heartstrings. Though melancholy in sound, the song conveys a hopeful and inspiring message about the magic of the holidays. Life moves fast and there will be tough days, especially with all that has happened this year, but the holiday spirit will always show up to provide comfort and joy during this time of year. The song feels very personal to the singer, as Andress vividly describes what reminds her of the holidays, “It takes me back to younger days / of stocking on the fireplace / and presents stacked / and waiting by the trees / and even if I’m all alone / a million miles away from home / it shows up in warm memory”. Though this year may be different, Andress has faith that the magic of this time of year will find its way to her. She wistfully repeats the line, “But somehow / Christmas always finds me” throughout the song, offering hope and faith for a special holiday season.


Julia Grubbs, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Starting Over” – Chris Stapleton
Songwriters: Chris Stapleton, Mike Henderson

It’s timely that Chris Stapleton’s new album came out right before we choose our monthly picks. Ever since I learned who he was, I thought he was one of the greatest voices and artists in contemporary country music to date. Whether it’s “Either Way” or his classic “Tennessee Whiskey”, every note just hits right for me. “Starting Over” follows suit, as does the whole album with the same name. The whole album, written right before and during this tumultuous time, seems to provide just the amount of optimism we need to make it through the road ahead with confidence, while admitting that starting over is just part of it. The lighthearted guitar and powerful harmonies of his wife, Morgane Stapleton, make this journey just a little bit easier for all of us. We may not be able to gather with everyone we love, but this is the perfect soundtrack to listen by the fire with the ones closest to us. “Well the road rolls out like a welcome mat /To a better place than the one we’re at / And I ain’t got no kinda plan / But I’ve had all of this town I can stand “


Molly Holmberg, Contributing Writer

Pick: “My First Car” – Megan Patrick
Songwriters: Adam Craig, Joey Hyde, Megan Patrick

In Megan Patrick’s song, “My First Car”, she goes down memory lane of firsts in her life. From her first buck, first can of beer, first scar, all the way to her first truck. If you follow Patrick on Instagram, you will know she spends a lot of time outdoors hunting, fishing, riding dirt bikes. This song comes right from Patrick’s life and listeners will see that nothing has changed her roots. The upbeat, dirt road vibes this song gives off is perfect for anyone who wants to connect back to their country roots!

“Yeah I got it right, right outta the gate / Five inch straight-pipe ’98 / Rolling coal Chevrolet, Lifted up / ‘Cause my first car was a pickup truck / my first car was a pickup truck”


Abby Kaye-Phillips, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Better Than We Found It” – Maren Morris
Songwriters: Jessie Jo Dillon, Jimmy Robbins, Maren Morris, Laura Veltz

Once in a while, a song makes you stop in your tracks and gives you chills over your entire body. That’s how I felt the first time I heard this one, and how I’ve felt when I’ve listened every time since then. “Better Than We Found It” is a haunting ballad about the state of our world and whether or not we’ll be proud to leave it to our children someday. Maren perfectly sums up how so many of us have been feeling this year living in a place in history that feels more divided than ever. While the lyrics and music video are more political than typical country songs, the new mom reminds us that at the end of the day, all we can do is leave this world better than we found it.
“When time turns this moment to dust / I just hope that I’m proud of the woman I was / When lines of tomorrow are drawn / Can I live with the side that I chose to be on? / Will we sit on our hands, do nothing about it? / Or will we leave this world better than we found it?”

Rebekah Milsted, Contributing Writer

Pick: “What’s Your Country Song” – Thomas Rhett
Songwriters: Ashley Gorley, Jesse Frasure, Parker Welling, Rhett Akins, Thomas Rhett

My pick for this month is “What’s Your Country Song” by Thomas Rhett. New music from TR is always great but having new music during quarantine has been even better. I remember when he played this early on during one of his lives and instantly fell in love. It’s a great song that not only shows the variety of country music but shows everyone has that one song they turn to no matter the situation.


Erica Zisman, Contributing Writer

Pick: “The One” – MacKenzie Porter
Songwriters: Claire Douglas, MacKenzie Porter, Madison Kozak, Tom Douglas

My November song pick is by one of our recent Swag Spotlight artists, MacKenzie Porter. Her song “The One” is one of those songs that I know I am going to love for a long time coming. Written by the singer with another one of our favorite artists, Madison Kozak and songwriters, Tom Douglas and Claire Douglas, “The One” is heartbreakingly relatable and truthful.

“I was right before right timing / The pearl before the diamond / I was the road trip to the beach / She’s the honeymoon to the Cayman Islands / I made a mess and she made sense / She got your name and a picket fence / I know it’s a part, but it ain’t fun / Bein’ the one before the one”

The track expresses vulnerability and pain through lyrical story-telling and breathtaking vocals, which is everything I love in a country song. I also strongly feel that MacKenzie is one to watch, so I love that I can continue to support her and her music through my song pick.

Listen to our picks on our “What We’re Listening To” playlist on Spotify and be sure to give it a follow, so you can catch our monthly updates.




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What We’re Listening To: October Picks

NYCountry Swag’s “What We’re Listening To” playlist highlights the wide range of our team’s favorite songs and artists when it comes to the country music genre.  At the end of the day, we are all fans first with a passion for country music and are eager to share with you all what we’ve got on repeat each month.

Find below each of our team member’s favorite songs and why in our October picks. Then be sure to give our Spotify account a follow and listen to our favorite tracks!





Stephanie Wagner, Founder

Pick: “Home to Me” – Ross Ellis
Songwriters: Emma-Lee, Karen Kosowski, Ross Ellis

A song I’ve found myself listening to a lot lately is Ross Ellis’ “Home To Me”. The song came out a few months ago and it’s one that I can’t seem to get out of my head. It’s got relatable lyrics of missing home, but knowing home will always be there. Sometimes in a world where it seems like everything is constantly changing, it’s comforting to know that coming back home will always feel the same. Matched with a groovy rhythm this is a song to sing out loud with the windows down.

“Ridin’ around town // Roll with the homies // Roll the windows down // Where everybody knows me // It don’t matter how much I’ve changed // ‘Cuz this place gonna stay the same // Shoot a little pool down at the lane // And throwing back Crowns ’til nobody’s standing // It don’t matter how much I leave // It’s always gonna be // Always gonna be home to me // Home to me, home to me”


Christina Bosch, Managing Editor 

Pick: “Neon Moon” – Kacey Musgraves (Brooks & Dunn Coverage)
Songwriters: Ronnie Dunn

I recently re-fell in love with the entire REBOOT album, where one of my favorite bands, Brooks and Dunn reimagined their biggest hits with today’s biggest country artists. Simply put, Kacey Musgraves takes this classic country broken heart ballad and takes it to a new level, highlighting her crystal clear voice and the impeccable story.

“If you lose your one and only, there’s always room here for the lonely to watch your broken dreams dance in and out of the beams of the neon moon”

You can’t listen to this song and not see the entire scenes play out, a smoke-filled barroom filled with people who are trying to forget a past relationship. It’s one of my favorite songs and I am so thrilled that Kacey Musgraves put her own spin on it.


Lucie Bernheim, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Light Years” – Rachel Reinert
Songwriters: Rosi Golan, David Nash, Rachel Reinert

Rachel Reinert’s solo debut Into The Blue was released just as the world began to change indefinitely. Although not the way she planned the release, the closing track “Light Years” signifies so much of what everyone has been going through these last 8 months. The song is like a stream of consciousness about coming to terms with life and trying to find calm in the chaos. “I could fill suitcases with my past, but there’s no more space so/Here come the light years,” she sings over dreamy harmonies on the chorus. It’s difficult to find hope in these times, and as Reinert sings on the bridge, “it’s hard not to be afraid”, but in times like these, it feels like being hopeful is our only option.


Dylan Bestler, Contributing Writer


Songwriters: Michael Hardy, Jake Mitchell, Smith Ahnquist, Nick Donley

 I think it is safe to say I’m obsessed with HARDY at this point. When I hear this song, I picture a bunch of people at a bar, arms locked, singing along to this country-boy anthem. HARDY’s songwriting skills are poetic and this track is a great representation of that as he uses a bunch of alliteration, repetition, rhyme schemes, and imagery. There is too much gold in here to even pick out my favorite lines and phrases. My favorite songs are generally ones I can relate to and ironically, I cannot relate to this one at all; I don’t fish, hunt, own a truck, chew tobacco or go to church but it doesn’t stop me from enjoying the hell out of this song.

You can blame it on my pedigree / but I can’t help my heredity / I’m unapologetically country as hell


Kristina Callahan, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Better Than That” – Matt Stell
Songwriters: Joe Fox, Matt Stell, Phil Barton

I’ve been a huge fan of Matt Stell since “Prayed for You” came out and have probably listened to his current single “Everywhere but On” no less than 75 times so it’s no surprise I am loving this new song “Better Than That.” Stell sings from the perspective of an onlooker at a bar that sees a woman with what he thinks, is the wrong guy and he knows her “better than that.”

You ain’t a shot of Jager from a stranger at a dive bar // His hands all on your body on the dance floor // Try’n first kiss you up against the wall // I know you better than that / It ain’t the move, ain’t what you do // He don’t know the first thing about you // I know you better than that // Yeah, I know you better than that
Stell’s lyrics have been one of the reasons I love his songs. They’re relatable and so catchy. I can’t wait to hear his new EP coming out later this month.


Erin Crosby, Contributing Writer

Pick: “I Called Mama” – Tim McGraw
Songwriters: Jimmy Yeary, Lance Miller, Marv Green

Tim McGraw’s “I Called Mama” is one of those songs that sneak up on you. Truthfully, I didn’t have an opinion on it for the first few weeks of it being released to radio. I was even leaning towards not liking it. Lately, though, I crave the sweet tone of the iconic “Live Like You Were Dying” singer on such sentimental lyrics to play through my car speakers.

The message behind this single is true and speaks to everyone for different reasons. Whether you lost someone suddenly, miss your mom or feel homesick, “I Called Mama” runs true. It’s a story-telling production in which the accompaniment is almost irrelevant in discussion (no offense to the instrumentalists or producers). McGraw’s words are enough to gain the necessary traffic and attention for the undiluted emotions present.


Alexa Ebner, Contributing Writer

Pick: Feeling Things – Ingrid Andress
Songwriters: Ingrid Andress, Jason Wu, Trey Campbell

Ingrid Andress never disappoints with an emotional song that makes you want to pour a glass of wine and eat a tub of ice cream on the couch. This new song, featured on the new artist’s Lady Like Deluxe Album that she released this month, is an addition to the album that I am very excited about. The singer-songwriter has a way with words and the raw honesty within them shows her humanity. This song sheds light on a perspective of loneliness that people don’t often talk about. It explores the idea of whether it’s better to feel nothing at all or put yourself out there and potentially get hurt. Ultimately, Andress reveals that she is ready to ‘fall, bleed, and sting’ in order to put herself out there again and ‘feel things’. Andress declares confidently that the pain and struggles of finding love and happiness are worth it and she’s ready to face the scary unknown, as she beautifully sings “Cause I miss, I miss feeling things.” A lyric that speaks to me is, “I watch the parades go by, but I’m not in ’em.” The artist uses a clever play on the long-time popular saying “If you’re not in the parade, you’re watching it”, as a metaphor for her feelings. Andress describes this realization that she doesn’t feel a fulfillment in her life that she watches others experience, which is what leads her to the conclusion that it’s more important to put yourself out there, even though there will always be a fear of getting hurt.


Julia Grubbs, Contributing Writer

Pick: Next To You – Little Big Town
Songwriters: Hillary Reynolds, Michael Jade, Trevor Jarvis

I don’t even know how I came across this song, but I heard it on my Google Home and immediately thought, I need to know what this is. Little Big Town definitely has some deep-feeling songs out there; “Girl Crush” was in one of the shows I performed in, and it got you every time. But this one just hit different. With a slight indie vibe that transitions into beautiful harmonies and a steady slow beat, “Next To You” uses pauses and a light backing to convey the true emotion that sparked this song.

 Don’t you know, You’re the fire in my bones, You’re my heart and my home, oh / And I know, I don’t say it enough, I’ve been down on my luck, My love / But I’ll be fine in the morning, Next to you

It isn’t until three minutes in that it really builds and let’s go. With some of the strong emotions we’ve all been feeling lately, no matter if it has to do with another person or not, this song seems to capture it all, with an eventual strong release of energy and liberation from any chains holding you back. I can’t wait to listen to the rest of Nightfall.


Molly Holmberg, Contributing Writer

Pick: Long Haul – Ian Munsick
Songwriters: Dave Villa, Ian Munsick, Jamie Kennedy

I first discovered Ian Munsick through fellow country singer, Jenna Paulette, sharing his song on her Instagram story. I am always open to listening to new artists and something about his single cover and the song name “Long Haul” made me head over to Spotify right away to take a listen. Let me tell you, I have been listening to his songs on repeat. “Long Haul” is a ballad that paints the picture of a relationship where he is giving his love to last. Lyrically, it speaks from the heart and with the metaphors and symbolism, well get ready for this song pull on your heart strings.
Long as I know that it’s you and me / Time don’t matter at all / Girl, I’m in it for the long haul”.
If you get the chance to watch the music video as well, I strongly encourage that! The landscapes of Wyoming bring the song to life even more.


Abby Kaye-Phillips, Contributing Writer

Pick: Hallelujah – Carrie Underwood featuring John Legend
Songwriters: Toby Gad, John Stephens

Carrie Underwood’s entire Christmas album is pure perfection but the first time I heard this duet with John Legend I had chills up and down my entire body. The gorgeous ballad is my favorite on the project and the swelling melody, gorgeous harmonies, and beautiful lyrics will give you all the feels too. The duet was recorded virtually due to the pandemic, but I’m crossing all my fingers and toes that one day we will get to hear Underwood and Legend sing it together live!

“Let the world stand still, the church bells ring / Silent night as the angels sing / Hallelujah, Hallelujah / Let the magic warm the moonlit air / Hear the choirs join in singing everywhere / Hallelujah, Hallelujah”


Erica Zisman, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Missing One” – Jameson Rodgers
Songwriters: Hunter Phelps, Jameson Rodgers, Smith Ahnquist

This month my pick is Jameson Rodgers song “Missing One.” Honestly, it is a song I often forget about until it comes up on my shuffle or playlists. I always remember in that instance how much I love it, and continue to play it on repeat. The song is truly a lyrical masterpiece. It has everything I love in country songs, solid vocals, even better story-telling, and witty and unexpected lyrics.

“I had ever Eagles record / Center console, in a stack / When we split up, she still had Desperado / And I never asked for it back / So I’m missing one”

Rodgers’ current radio single “Some Girls” is currently rising on the charts, and I would love to see him get the success he deserves. With that being said, if you are unfamiliar with “Missing One,” I suggest you download it immediately. Trigger warning for anyone going through a break-up!


Listen to our picks on our “What We’re Listening To” playlist on Spotify and be sure to give it a follow, so you can catch our monthly updates.




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