Little Big Town: ‘Mr. Sun’ – Album Review

Little Big Town’s brand new album, Mr. Sun is out now, September 16th on all streaming platforms. Take a listen and read our full review below.

In January 2020, Little Big Town released their stellar album, Nightfall. The foursome then kicked off a tour at New York’s Carnegie Hall and the famous Apollo Theater, and then… the world shut down.

Now, two and a half years later, the group responsible for the best vocal harmonies in country music are back with something that manages to be both different yet familiar.

Featuring sixteen new tracks, the group’s tenth studio album, Mr. Sun, was self-produced by the fantastic four members of Little Big Town. It features thirteen tracks co-written by at least one member of the band, and a total of 33 songwriters, including Sara Buxton, Tyler Hubbard, Hillary Lindsey, Lori McKenna, Liz Rose, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne, and many more.

Written predominantly during the pandemic, Mr. Sun shows Little Big Town at its absolute best. They sample new sounds while remaining true to the vocal harmonies that have endeared them to fans for over their twenty year career, allowing oft-frontwoman Karen Fairchild to shine, but they also provide moments for each other band member to have a moment in the spotlight. They provide a stellar mix of radio-ready tracks with deeper cuts full of melody and meaning.

That clever juxtaposition of tracks happens almost immediately, the album kicking off with the previously-released “All Summer,” “Better Love,” and “Hell Yeah,” before transitioning into more poignant moments on “Mr. Sun” and “Three Whiskeys and the Truth.”

“All Summer” is a blistering ode to summer love, led by Karen Fairchild’s sultry vocals over an almost 70’s-inspired melody, while “Better Love” is a smooth mid-tempo that finds her with no regrets over a failed relationship, but looking for something better next time around. These lead directly into the cleverly phrased “Hell Yeah,” which allows Philip Sweet to take the lead.

“Hell yeah, I go get drunk on Friday nights // Hell yeah, I’m dancing under neon lights // Hell yeah, I’m smiling so that you can’t tell // But if you’re ever wondering, baby if I’m still // Going through hell, yeah // Going through hell, yeah // You’ve moved on and I’m still here in hell, yeah”

Jimi Westbrook is frontman on “Mr. Sun,” which one would assume might be a party song from the title, but is actually the total opposite. In fact, the song offers a clever nod at the Bill Withers classic, “Ain’t No Sunshine,” with Westbrook crooning, “You don’t need to shine, ‘cause she’s gone away.” On the somber R&B-tinted tune, the soulful singer shines his brightest, despite being in the mood for “something dark and stormy.”

Heartbreak may be where LBT shines brightest, allowing mournful harmonies to set the mood on tracks like “Three Whiskeys and the Truth” and “One More Song,” On the latter, Fairchild and Westbrook deal with a breakup, trading verses in the vein of one of the band’s most underrated songs, “Your Side of the Bed.” Meanwhile, on the former, Fairchild’s smoky voice tells the heart-wrenching time of love lost, nearly breaking with emotion on the second-half of the song. “Takes every bit of the time that I’m killing // My heart hesitates but the pain’s always willing,” She admits. “There ain’t no lying // Baby I’m missing you // Three whiskeys and the truth.”

It’s not all stormy weather on Mr. Sun, as the breezy and Abba-inspired “Heaven Had a Dance Floor” finds Kimberley Schlapman channeling her inner disco queen. Likewise, “Whiskey Colored Eyes” has an almost Eagles-like feel, elevated by the foursome’s harmonies. Finally, the sass-meter is turned up to ten on “Song Back,” an 80’s groove-inspired song about a song ruined by the end of a relationship. “If you’re gonna play me like that,” Fairchild scorches. “I want my song back.”

The later half of the album focuses heavily on reflection, with songs like “Rich Man,” “God Fearing Gypsies,” “Last Day on Earth,” and the album’s final track, “Friends of Mine.” 

“Rich Man” offers a poignant moment of reflection, as they grapple with the fact that one can be wealthy “without a lick of money.” 

“Yeah, in my soul, one thing I know // I ain’t lookin’ for a pot of gold // That ain’t what this life means to me // I keep my head up high, feet on the ground // Love the ones I’m livin’ ’round // Life is just that simple to me // Yeah, I’m a rich man”

Additionally, “God Fearing Gypsies” finds the quartet slowing things down for another introspective moment on the harmonic highlight. The song is led by Westbrook, but soars with the patented harmonies that make LBT the best vocal group in music today. “Long live the God-fearing gypsies,” They sing, “Who live as hard as they pray.”

“Last Day on Earth” is a sparse and folksy ballad that has the foursome harmonizing without a clear lead vocalist, showing them at their absolute best. In fact, we can already picture all four members of LBT highlighting this track with their voices, a spotlight, and a guitar, during an acoustic section of their live shows.

Finally, “Friends of Mine” is one of the album’s most moving moments, almost sounding as a message to their fans and to each other. On the soulful, Gospel-tinged tune, they tackle the uncertainty of the world we live in, offering a moment of hope in the darkness. “Everyone knows that in life sometimes, the wind blows the rain in your eyes,” They sing. “It’s a crazy world // we’re all trying to live in // We all feel alone and afraid…“We all need each other to get through the darkest of times.” 

As one of country music’s most consistent band of music-makers, Little Big Town continues to shine on Mr. Sun, offering listeners a bright spot through even the darkest of days.

Little Big Town – Mr. Sun Track List:

  1. All Summer (Karen Fairchild, Sarah Buxton, Madi Diaz, Ashley Ray, Savana Santos, Alysa Vanderheym)
  2. Better Love (Karen Fairchild, Jimi Westbrook, Tofer Brown, Audra Mae)
  3. Hell Yeah (Phillip Sweet, Jimi Westbrook, Corey Crowder, Tyler Hubbard)
  4. Mr. Sun (Sarah Buxton, Daniel Tashian)
  5. Three Whiskeys and the Truth (Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Hillary Lindsey, Lori McKenna, Liz Rose)
  6. One More Song (Tofer Brown, Sean McConnell)
  7. Heaven Had a Dance Floor (Karen Fairchild, Phillip Sweet, Jimi Westbrook, Cary Barlowe, Jesse Frasure)
  8. Gold (Karen Fairchild, Jimi Westbrook, Trent Dabbs, Luke Dick)
  9. Rich Man (Jimi Westbrook)
  10. God Fearing Gypsies (Karen Fairchild, Nicolette Hayford, Ashley Ray)
  11. Different Without You (Corey Crowder, Jared Mullins, Steven Lee Olsen, Jordan Schmidt)
  12. Whiskey Colored Eyes (Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Phillip Sweet, Jimi Westbrook, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne)
  13. Song Back (Karen Fairchild, Jimi Westbrook, Todd Clark, Sara Haze, Jason Saenz)
  14. Something Strong (Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Hillary Lindsey, Lori McKenna, Liz Rose)
  15. Last Day On Earth (Karen Fairchild, Trent Dabbs, Tommy English)
  16. Friends of Mine (Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Phillip Sweet, Jimi Westbrook, Foy Vance)

Country Swag Picks

  1. God Fearing Gypsies
  2. Song Back
  3. Friends of Mine
  4. Better Love
  5. Hell Yeah

Little Big Town’s new album, ‘Mr. Sun’ is out now.

Fans can join our Weekly Round-Up e-newsletter here, for the latest in country music and more news and announcements about future Little Big Town releases.

To keep up with Little Big Town, follow them on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook.

Mr. Sun is available everywhere you buy or stream music. Take a listen below and check out more new recently released tunes on our ‘New Country Music’ playlist. Be sure to give the playlist a follow for your weekly new country music fix.


Little Big Town Drops New Song “Hell Yeah”

Little Big Town’s new song “Hell Yeah” is out now on all streaming platforms. Learn more about the brand new song and listen below.

Little Big Town have released several anthemic breakup songs throughout their longtime reign as country superstars, and their latest, “Hell Yeah” is no exception. The track is casual and clever in its delivery and the foursome each had a hand in writing and producing the catchy song.

“Phillip and I wrote this with Tyler Hubbard and Corey Crowder,” Jimi Westbrook of the band shared.  “I remember when Corey brought that hook in that day. He sang his idea and when he turned that phrase at the end of the chorus, we were all like ‘hell yeah!’ We always have a blast writing with those guys.”

“This song is a classic breakup song, flipped upside down,” continued Sweet, who takes on the lead vocals of the song. “It’s pure feel-good vibes. We are so excited to premiere it on the CMT Music Awards which has always been a home for us in releasing new music.”

“Hell Yeah” might not be upbeat in its lyrical content, but sonically, it feels perfect for a nice April day.

“Hell no, I don’t sit around by myself // feeling better than I’ve ever felt // at least I know that’s what it looks like // Hell yeah, I go get drunk on Friday nights”

Sweet has one of the richest and underrated voices in all of country music, and this single is perfect for longtime fans of the band and for those who love the classic southern summer rock that is missing from today’s airwaves. This is the first track from Little Big Town’s new project and based on this new release, more great songs are on the horizon.


Little Big Town releases their new song “Hell Yeah,” out now.

Fans can join our Weekly Round-Up e-newsletter here, for the latest in country music and more news about future Little Big Town releases.

To keep up with Little Big Town, follow them on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook.

“Hell Yeah” is now available everywhere you buy or stream music. Take a listen below and check out more new recently released music here on our ‘New Country Music’ playlist. Be sure to give the playlist a follow for your weekly new country music fix.

Miranda Lambert & Little Big Town Reveal 2022 The Bandwagon Tour

Miranda Lambert & Little Big Town are hitting the road together again on the 2022 The Bandwagon Tour and they’re bringing along The Cadillac Three. Get all the dates and details below. 

Miranda Lambert and Little Big Town join forces to co-headline this spring’s The Bandwagon Tour, a reincarnation of 2018’s co-headlining run of the same name. 

The joint tour will include The Cadillac Three on all dates and hits 15 cities beginning Friday, May 6 in Houston, Texas.

Tickets toThe Bandwagon Tour’s opening night in Houston go on sale Friday, Jan. 21 at 10 a.m. local time, with all other dates of The Bandwagon Tour on sale Friday, Jan. 14 at 10 a.m. local time. Tickets are available at Check out the full list of dates below.


Wednesday, April 27 *        Tuscaloosa Amphitheater  |  Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Thursday, April 28 *           FirstBank Amphitheater  |  Franklin, Tenn.
Friday, April 29 *#.             William Green Football Stadium  |  Johnson City, Tenn.
Friday, May 6 +                   Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion presented by Huntsman  |  Houston, Texas
Saturday, May 7                  Dos Equis Pavilion  |  Dallas, Texas
Sunday, May 8                     Walmart AMP  |  Rogers, Ark.
Thursday, May 12                Credit One Stadium  |  Charleston, S.C.
Friday, May 13                     MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre  |  Tampa, Fla.
Saturday, May 14                 iTHINK Financial Amphitheatre  |  West Palm Beach, Fla.
Friday, May 20                     Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre  |  St. Louis, Mo.
Saturday, May 21                 Ruoff Music Center  |  Noblesville, Ind.
Sunday, May 22                   Riverbend Music Center  |  Cincinnati, Ohio
Thursday, June 2                  Budweiser Stage  |  Toronto, Ont.
Friday, June 3                       DTE Energy Music Theatre  |  Detroit, Mich.
Saturday, June 4                   Blossom Music Center  |  Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio
Thursday, June 9                  Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater  |  Wantagh, N.Y.
Friday, June 10                     PNC Bank Arts Center  |  Holmdel, N.J.
Saturday, June 11                 BB&T Pavilion  |  Camden, N.J.
*   Miranda Lambert & The Cadillac Three only; not part of The Bandwagon Tour
+   on sale Friday, Jan 21. at 10 a.m. local time
#   on sale Friday, Feb. 1 at 10 a.m. local time

Fans can join our Weekly Round-Up e-newsletter here, for the latest in country music and more news about future tour dates, ticket giveaways, and more.

Follow us on Instagram and TikTok for more.


Get to Know the Opening Acts of Summer 2021’s Hottest Country Music Tours

All of the greats we know and love today were once the opening acts, too. Get to know today’s openers from summer 2021’s hottest country music tours.

Not only did your favorite superstars reunite with the stage this past summer, but your future favorite entertainers had the opportunity to share it with them this country concert season as well. Country music is famous for having incredible ‘superstars-to-be’ open for their major tours, and here at Country Swag, we have your guide to all the of the show openers. Learn more about this year’s opening acts below.

Tenille Arts just earned her first #1 on country radio with the smash “Somebody Like That”, following the release of her second studio album, Love, Heartbreak & Everything In Between. All her hard work is paying off this year, as she gears up for new releases and as summer set in, Arts found herself as the opening act on on Lady A’s ‘What A Song Can Do Tour’. Tenille Arts is without a doubt one of the best vocalists and songwriters of this new class of country artists and if you caught the show, you will probably agree.

Matt Stell, one of our artists to watch and Live Swag Session alums is taking over country music one single at a time. His debut single, “Prayed For You” is one of the most popular love songs in country music, and his new single, “That Ain’t Me No More” has been sent to country radio. This summer, he joined Old Dominion and Miranda Lambert on their respective run of shows.

Lainey Wilson and HARDY were both opening acts for Jason Aldean’s ‘Back In The Saddle Tour’ and if you caught the show, you know they rightfully earned their time in the spotlight. This isn’t the first time the two have toured together either; they opened for Morgan Wallen on his first headline tour over two years ago. HARDY and Wilson both released critically acclaimed albums in the past year (A ROCK and Sayin’ What I’m Thinkin’, respectively) and as those albums indicated, their fiery songs got fans up and out of their seats each and every night just as fast as they sat down in them!

The full list of country tours and their opening acts are listed below. One of the best feelings is when you go to a show not knowing the opener and leaving a forever fan. If that rings true for the show’s you attended this year, be sure to remember their names, follow them on socials, stream the music and get ready to see those artists when they head back your way. For New York City country fans, head to our calendar to find out when the next shows in the area are.


Blake Shelton
Lindsay Ell
Martina McBride
Trace Adkins
Tracy Byrd

Brad Paisley
Jimmie Allen
Kameron Marlowe

Brett Eldredge
Morgan Evans

Brothers Osborne
Tenille Townes
Travis Denning

Dan + Shay
Band Camino
Ingrid Andress

Dierks Bentley
Parker McCollum
Riley Green

Ingrid Andress
Georgia Webster

Jason Aldean
Lainey Wilson

Kane Brown
Restless Road

Lady A
Carly Pearce
Tenille Arts

Little Big Town
Caitlyn Smith
Hailey Whitters

Luke Bryan
Caylee Hammack
Dylan Scott

Old Dominion
Blanco Brown
Caitlyn Smith
Matt Stell
Randy Houser
Scotty McCreery
Walker County

Fans can join our Weekly Round-Up e-newsletter here, for the latest in country music and more news about upcoming announcements and releases.

Make sure to follow Country Swag on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to keep up with all the latest in country music!

Check out more new recently released tunes on our ‘New Country Music’ playlist. Be sure to give the playlist a follow for your weekly new country music fix.

BREAKING: Little Big Town Announce ‘The Nightfall Tour Returns’

Little Big Town has announced The Nightfall Returns Tour kicking off this Fall 2021. Check out the full list of dates below.

Joining Little Big Town on tour will be show openers, Ashley Ray and Caitlyn Smith.

Pre-sale tickets are on sale now with code: NIGHTFALL, for tickets & all tour dates visit:

Join our Weekly Round-Up e-newsletter here, for the latest in country music and more news about future Little Big Town shows and releases.

Hailey Whitters: ‘Living The Dream’ – Deluxe Album Review

Hailey Whitters’ brand new deluxe album LIVING THE DREAM is available now, February 26th, everywhere you buy or stream music. Take a look below as we dig a little deeper into the project.

Hailey Whitters' 'Living The Dream Deluxe Album' is available everywhere now, February 26th

Hailey Whitters’ ‘Living The Dream – Deluxe Album’ is available everywhere now, February 26th

For almost exactly a year, rising singer-songwriter and former Swag Spotlight artist, Hailey Whitters has been riding the high from the release of her debut full-length record The Dream. Clearly feeling like the album’s journey was not completely finished, the profound songstress is releasing a deluxe version of the project adding five new songs to the record, officially out today!

The record features familiar songs and fan-favorites like “Ten Year Town” and “Janice at the Hotel Bar.” The former is her dynamite former single, a song that paints the picture of what it was like for Whitters as she was trying to figure out if she should continue to try to ‘make it’ in Nashville. Written with the exceptional Brandy Clark, the track is one that will be a staple for Whitters for a long time coming.

The latter is another one of our favorites. Reminiscent of Lori McKenna’s awe-inspiring, “Humble and Kind”, Whitters combined forces with McKenna to express a real-life tale about an encounter with a wise woman named Janice. The song offers advice on how to live a good life, suggesting simple lessons like “get on the pill if you ain’t ready to start a family” and “make good love, good company.”

The songstress continues to remind us to be appreciative of life’s little moments in “The Days,” while expressing her truth in the breathtaking “Loose Strings,” a song about both love and loss. In “Heartland,” Whitters once again sings about life not going the way she thought it would, but alas, she knows she can always fall back on her Midwestern roots. “Heart – land in the middle of nowhere.”

The record also features “Happy People”, a song that Whitters wrote and was recorded by Little Big Town on their album, The Breaker. This new version is a mid-tempo jam that is laced with authenticity, gritty lyrics, and a traditional-country rooted instrumental. It focuses on the simple, yet complex concept of happiness and how to obtain it.

Whitters even collaborates with LBT on a brand new song on the record called “Fillin’ My Cup.” The track is a fun-loving, traditional-country jam, filled with banjos and eloquent harmonies. We’d love to see Little Big Town and Whitters perform this one live!

Like “Fillin’ My Cup,” the other four brand new songs are also collaborations. On “How Far Can I Go,” the songstress fulfills a childhood dream and duets with country superstar, Trisha Yearwood. The duet is truly timeless, and it feels like the two women have been singing together forever. Similarly, “Glad To Be Here,” Whitters’ dueling duet with Brent Cobb is just as enticing. The song is a nostalgic track about appreciating where you are, especially your hometown.

One of our favorite collaborations off the record is “How To Break A Heart.” A song that is truly songwriting and storytelling at its finest. It’s no surprise that Whitters combined her talent with two extraordinary musicians, Lori McKenna and Hillary Lindsey. The song is so beautiful and captivating both lyrically and melodically.

Whitters also collaborates with fellow rising country star, Jordan Davis on “The Ride,” the final song on the record. Although different than the other collaborations, Whitters and Davis prove how talented they both are. Their ability to stay true to their individual sounds, while creating something new and fresh has superstardom written all over it for both of them.

Of course, we would be remiss if we did not mention the closing track off the original version of the album, a song entitled “Livin’ The Dream.” Whitters inspires people to look at every step, every trial, and every hardship as part of ‘The Dream.’ For the songstress, her grind in Nashville, which included waiting on tables and living in a small apartment are all important parts of her journey, her story, and ultimately, her dream.

“Oh the one thing I’ve learned is that the world keeps on spinning / Love is the only thing that makes it go round / I’ve given it all with the time I’ve been given / I’m out here livin’ / Yeah we all just livin’ / the dream”

Whitters is an artist that is done trying to fit whatever mold the industry tries to push female singers into. Her artistry rivals that of any established superstar in country music, but it is her infectious vocals, stellar songwriter, and pure talent and perseverance that is going to take her far. Moreover, the fact that she chose to collaborate with the artists and songwriters that have helped her or inspired her on her journey just shows how proud she is of her craft.

NYCS Picks:

  1. “Ten Year Town”
  2. “The Ride”
  3. “Janice at The Hotel Bar”
  4. “How To Break A Heart”

LIVING THE DREAM Deluxe Tracklist:

  1. Ten Year Town
  2. The Days
  3. Red Wine & Blue
  4. Dream, Girl
  5. Loose Strings
  6. Heartland
  7. Janice at the Hotel Bar
  8. Happy People
  9. The Devil Always Made Me Think Twice
  10. All The Cool Girls
  11. The Faker
  12. Living the Dream
  13. Fillin’ My Cup (feat. Little Big Town)
  14. Glad To Be Here (feat. Brent Cobb)
  15. How To Break A Heart (feat. Lori McKenna & Hillary Lindsey)
  16. How Far Can It Go? (feat. Trisha Yearwood)
  17. The Ride (feat. Jordan Davis)

Fans can join our Weekly Round-Up e-newsletter here, for the latest in country music and more news about future Hailey Whitters releases.

To keep up with Hailey Whitters, follow her on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Living The Dream is now available everywhere you buy or stream music. Take a listen below and check out more new recently released music here on our ‘New Country Music’ playlist. Be sure to give the playlist a follow for your weekly new country music fix.

Hailey Whitters & Little Big Town Release New Years Treat “Fillin’ My Cup”

Hailey Whitters and Little Big Town made the first day of 2021 even sweeter by releasing their new song “Fillin’ My Cup”, perfect for raising spirits in these trying times. Take a look below as we dig a little deeper into the track.

Fillin' My Cup Hailey Whitters Little Big Town
It’s hard to believe that the most insane year in many of our lifetimes is over. While 2020 was, in many ways, the worst of times, a huge silver lining was the phenomenal music and art created in that time. Among that music was Whitters’ fantastic record, The Dream, released only a few weeks shy of lockdown. A true songwriter’s record is what was needed to get through the last 10 months, so what better way to start 2021 than with Hailey Whitters’ new perfectly-timed single, “Fillin’ My Cup”?

The song and it’s music video is filled with everything from fiddle to fashion. Written by Whitters, Nicolle Galyon (who also serves as Whitters’ label-head), and Hillary Lindsey is a neo-country sounding track (courtesy of co-production by Whitters and fiancé Jake Gear) all about trying to find the high’s within the inescapable lows of life. It’s sweet and new, yet nostalgic, and distinctively Whitters.

“It’s one part happy and one part chaos / Whole lotta borrowed, little bit paid off / You can’t appreciate the sugar if you never had the salt / Ain’t it nice and sweet even when it’s on the rocks?” Whitters is so good at figuring out how to tie universal and thoughtful messages of living with her own personal musings.

Just when you think the song can’t get better, between the stellar songwriting and Whitters and Little Big Town’s harmonies, Karen Fairchild and Kimberly Schlapman take the second verse. It’s not that the song needed Little Big Town, but having them on it added so much to it vocally, and it made the vibe even more fun and lively. Both have these dreamy, vintage aesthetics that reflect sonically, lyrically and visually. It’s a natural collaboration.

The end of the song is boot-stomping, honky-tonk happy. It coincidentally feels light in the way champagne does on New Year’s Eve. “Yeah, it ain’t the whiskey, it ain’t the wine / Though it sure goes good from time to time / With this high-low life, go and shake it on up / Yeah, that’s the stuff that’s fillin’ my cup”, they sing together on the final chorus.

In 2017, Little Big Town released “Happy People”, a standout Whitters and Lori McKenna co-write that opened their album The Breaker. Both Whitters and McKenna released their own versions of the lighthearted tune, and it’s the song that really kick-started Whitters’ career. This collaboration feels very full circle and characteristically hopeful. And after the year we’ve all had, there’s nothing we need more than hope.

For all your country music, tours, songwriters, news, and releases, fans can subscribe to our Weekly Round-Up newsletter here.

To keep up with Hailey Whitters, follow her on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

“Fillin’ My Cup” is now available everywhere you buy or stream music. Take a listen below and check out more new recently released music here on our ‘New Country Music’ playlist. Be sure to give the playlist a follow for your weekly new country music fix.



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Best Country Albums of 2020 – Our Favorite Picks

As this crazy, unprecedented year finally comes to a close, the one thing we could all find solace in was music in 2020.  The New York Country Swag team is highlighting the wide range of our team’s favorite songs and artists when it comes to the country music genre by featuring our favorite album picks of 2020.  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 the albums we’ve had on repeat this year.

Best Country Albums of 2020 - Our Favorite Picks

Best Country Albums of 2020 – Our Favorite Picks

Find below each of our team member’s favorite albums and why in our 2020 best country album picks.


Stephanie Wagner, Founder

Pick: Southern Symphony – Russell Dickerson

Although the album has only been out a few weeks, I would be lying if I said I haven’t been playing it on repeat nonstop since its release. It’s one of those albums you can listen to over and over again and each time fall in love with a new song. This was one of the records I was looking forward to most this year and I’m so glad that in a year of uncertainty, this new music from Russell Dickerson has made its way out into the world. I can not wait to see songs from this project performed live!

Honorable Mention:  Southside – Sam Hunt – When I think of the early days of quarantine, I think of this album and listening to it on repeat night and day. It’s full of jams, relatable lyrics, and clever twists that made it easy to listen to over and over again.


Christina Bosch, Managing Editor 

Pick: The Other Side – Cam


Throughout this unprecedented and unpredictable year music has been healing and also very painful to listen to. Missing live music and the way our old life played out was something I had to come to grips with early on in the pandemic but each time a new album was released, I fell deeper and deeper in love with music and was able to really focus on my favorite part of the country genre – the lyrics.

Picking a favorite album of 2020 was nearly impossible. Three different albums were constantly playing throughout the year, the first half of the year was Nightfall by Little Big Town, then came my favorite singer-songwriter HARDY with A ROCK. Both of those albums were chosen by two of our writers so finally, released at the end of October was Cam’s sophomore project, The Other Side.

Cam’s impeccable vocal ability blew me away from the moment I first heard her sing but with this second project, she proves her power in this genre. Each song tells a different story from heartbreak, divorce, growing older, and a love that is envied by all. “Happier for You”, “Redwood Tree”, and “What Goodbye Means” are highlights but even choosing three songs to showcase was hard. I am so glad that “Diane” is getting a second life on this project as well after being released back in 2017.

For any fans of real country music that tells a story, The Other Side will instantly become a favorite for years to come.


Lucie Bernheim, Contributing Writer

Pick: The Dream – Hailey Whitters

2020 has felt like multiple years rolled into one. Between a global pandemic, civil unrest, and ultimately, vast unpredictability, the true silver lining has been the incredible music released over the last 12 months. This year has produced some of my favorite works of all time, two being Brett Eldredge’s risk-taking Sunday Drive, which I got to review in July, and Hailey Whitters’ magical and brilliant The Dream. Choosing between these albums was hard because they are both my favorites on different ways, but when it came down to it, I had to choose Hailey Whitters’ The Dream.

The Dream is a dream album. It’s cohesive and gorgeous, insightful and witty, heartbreaking and hopeful. “Dream, Girl” and “All The Cool Girls” have a real groove and mystique to them, making them standouts. “Janice At The Hotel Bar” is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of song. I remember where I was when I first heard the song, walking in Central Park, so moved I had to stop. I immediately played it for my parents and my sister. Lyrically, it’s incredible, as is any story-song written by Whitters and the unparalleled Lori McKenna. “Paris in the spring of 1973/She said if there is a heaven, that’s where I’ll be”.  Something about the delivery and production makes it incredibly evocative, with Whitters’ reverbed vocals and a shimmering acoustic guitar gliding you along. It’s the kind of musical moment you never forget.

It’s hard to encapsulate what music has meant to me this year. “The Days” gave me the closure I needed to end my senior year of high school; “Heartland” and “Janice At The Hotel Bar” got me through my first semester of college. Whenever I hear this record, I will always be transported back in time to 2020, a year that even if we try to forget, we never will. I can’t wait to see what Hailey Whitters does next.


Dylan Bestler, Contributing Writer

Pick: Southside – Sam Hunt

With all live shows being canceled this year, we needed artists to drop a lot of new music to fill the void and get through quarantine. Luckily, country artists delivered and we got a ton of great albums from Luke Bryan, Kelsea Ballerini, Dustin Lynch, Brett Eldredge, Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, Carly Pearce, Chris Stapleton, and many others. My favorite was Sam Hunt’s Southside.

Hunt covered a lot of themes on this record. Being that his last album was released five and a half years ago (which could’ve been another reason why I loved Southside so much), he had a lot of stories to tell. His songs are very personal to him, but are general enough where others can relate as well.

If you want to dance and have a good time, “Kinfolks” and “Hard to Forget” are great tailgate anthems. If you want to get in your feels and maybe even cry, “2016” and “That Ain’t Beautiful” are for you. “Young Once” and “Sinning With You” paint great pictures of young love if you want to reminisce on your youth. There is a song for every type of emotion on this record which makes it so versatile and relevant.

Honorable Mentions: A ROCK-HARDY, The Lemonade Stand-Tenille Townes, The K Is Silent-Hot Country Knights.


Kristina Callahan, Contributing Writer

Pick: Tullahoma – Dustin Lynch

Remember a time when artists put out albums, did press about the new record, and maybe even have an album release party? It seems like that was a lifetime ago. Dustin Lynch put out Tullahoma, his fourth studio album, right before the Covid-19 pandemic hit and let me tell you, I can still listen to it front to back nearly a year later. The album is named after Lynch’s hometown of Tullahoma, Tennessee, and is a central theme throughout the album from running into an ex-girlfriend at the Circle K in “Thinking ‘Bout You” or singing about momma’s fried chicken in “Dirt Road.”
I grew up on a dirt road dreaming ’bout making a name // And getting out of dodge and the same ol’ same // Graduate and settle down, man I was out of that town // Now I catch myself rewind and reminiscing // ‘Bout a small town girl and mama’s fried chicken // I can taste it right now // Let me tell you I’m proud
Lynch sings about his hometown in a way that so many that grew up in the small towns can relate to: driving down backroads, having everything remind you of an ex, and memories with some of your best friends. I think that’s why I love this album so much, it’s relatable and simple. When Lynch can finally perform these songs live in front of thousands of fans, I have no doubt they’ll be crowd favorites.

Jeremy Chua, Contributing Writer

Pick: Rollin’ On – Jesse Daniel

If your knowledge of country music relies solely on what’s played on country radio, you probably wouldn’t have heard of Jesse Daniel. But, if you listen to country radio and also keep up critics’ reviews, you would have heard the buzz about the California native. Though Daniel released his debut album back in 2018, it is his sophomore (and latest) effort that caught the ears of many. Rollin’ On is a throwback to the warmth of classic country, whilst also giving a nod to the Bakersfield sound made famous by icons like Buck Owens and Dwight Yoakam.

The twelve-track project boasts plenty of fiddle, steel, mandolin, and all your favorite traditional country elements. Sometimes, you hear the phrase “my life is a country song” tossed around in lighthearted humor. But Daniel’s life truly is a country song. He’s lived through poverty, drugs, substance abuse, jail time, rehab and more. This roller-coaster journey is on full display in Rollin’ On. “Champion” boasts a story of overcoming odds, “If You Ain’t Happy Now (You Never Will Be)” is a timely reminder of true contentment, while the rollicking title track celebrates the adventure of life everyone is on. Like classic country? Like authentic songwriting? Like a record with impeccable production? Then Jesse Daniel’s Rollin’ On is definitely for you. Look out for him in 2021! This album is just the beginning for the rising country star.


Erin Crosby, Contributing Writer

Pick: Lady Like (Deluxe) – Ingrid Andress

This “More Hearts Than Mine” singer-songwriter and piano ballad enthusiast did not only release LadyLike, her debut record, in a time when the word quarantine was still freshly coming off the tongue like a foreign island that protrudes its way onto the coast, impacting the nation in more ways than could have been anticipated. But, Ingrid Andress followed up with a deluxe edition just six months after the collection itself.

LadyLike (Deluxe) deepens and expands a presence of the crisp, lovable yet heartbreaking sentiment that exceeds an already palpable sense of her artistry in the original album. A stripped-down and honest production is only accentuated in the follow-up project with a rearranged tracklist that is said to tell the story in the order that it occurred. Each song acts as a chapter of Andress’ life whether it highlights emotional distress or an attempt at a real relationship, though intentions vary throughout depending on where you left off in the story. LadyLike (Deluxe) acts as a true representation of modern ideologies of romance while not closing the curtain on inner frustrations and insecurities along the way.


Caleigh DeCaprio, Contributing Writer

Pick: kelsea– Kelsea Ballerini

There were a few albums that I found myself playing on repeat this year, including The Speed of Now Part 1, What you see Ain’t Always What You Get, and Diplo Presents Thomas Wesley, Chapter 1: Snake Oil. But when it came to what album got me ~through~ this year, it was kelsea.

Too many of these songs felt like Kelsea wrote them just for me. I’ve never heard a song that was so lyrically perfect for me before I listened to “club”. Seriously if you know me, this song is my anthem. I had already loved “homecoming queen?” and “la” because of how vulnerable and relatable they were and when I heard the full album, I felt the very same way about “overshare”, “half of my hometown”, and “a country song”. I related so strongly to these songs to the point that I felt I could have written them myself. (not that I could have done that, but you know what I mean).

The artistry in the songwriting and production of this entire album is a pure example of a true and rare talent. No matter what song you come across on this record, it will be some of the most vulnerable and honest music you have heard. Ballerini shares her highs and lows and everything in between. It’s not that common for an artist to be so open and forward about their struggles with anxiety and introversion, especially this early on in their career, but Ballerini showed that side of her and then some with this album.

My heart hurt for her when this album came out the week the world shut down. I wanted her to get to play these songs live and receive all the glory she deserved for this beautiful work of art. However, the way that she was able to spin that negative into the reimagining of the very same songs on ballerini in order to give herself the chance to re-fall in love with these songs was extraordinary and a lovely example of music that would not exist if it weren’t for this year’s events. The re-imagined ballerini album just made fans understand even more how much love she had for this collection of songs.

The pair of albums was meant to show that there are two sides to every story and every person. Understanding that we all have more to us than what is seen on the surface is an important and beautiful lesson that we can take away from these albums and this year. When the day finally comes for Kelsea to play these songs on tour, I will be the first one in line to see it.

Julia Grubbs, Contributing Writer 

Pick: Starting Over – Chris Stapleton

2020 has been a certain kind of year, so I was looking for something that told a complete story. As soon as I heard Starting Over, I knew it captured everything I was feeling about how the year had gone: some of the anger, some of the resentment, some of the just getting up every day for a brand new day that looked very similar to the one before. While Stapleton always manages to speak truth to listeners in ways no one else can, this year we needed comfort and assurance unlike any other that we will make it through this. “Cold” is one of my favorites, using his iconic tone and lyricism to hit raw emotion. “Starting Over”, just like the title of the album, reminds us that through this journey, we can still learn and grow, find moments of joy, and serves as a reminder that we must accept what has happened, and use that as a pivotal moment for the path forward.


Nicole Piering, Contributing Writer

Pick: Nightfall – Little Big Town

My favorite and most listened to album of 2020 was easily Little Big Town’s Nightfall, which came out in simpler pre-pandemic times back in January. In fact, their phenomenal concert at the Apollo was my last taste of live music this year, so at least I went out on a high note.

Although not as single-heavy as some of their other releases, Nightfall is truly a cohesive masterclass in harmony. With standout songs such as “Sugar Coat,” “Questions,” and “The Daughters,” this album is one I’ll be listening to through 2021 and beyond.
Pick: My Gift – Carrie Underwood
Whether or not you’re a religious person, this album is absolutely stunning. We needed something positive to come out of 2020 and the first ever holiday project from the queen of country definitely delivered. From gorgeous covers of Christmas classics like “O Holy Night”, “Mary Did You Know” and “Joyful Joyful” to new original songs like “Let There Be Peace” and “Sweet Baby Jesus” the album truly has something for everyone. Underwood’s voice shines on the power ballads and the softer hymns alike, and you can hear her emotion and faith come through every song.
My personal favorites off the album happen to be the two collaborations: “Hallelujah” with John Legend and “Little Drummer Boy” featuring Underwood’s son, Isaiah. Curling up with hot chocolate and a blanket and listening to My Gift has been my weekend routine since it came out in September, and I’m definitely going to be listening to these songs well after the holiday season.

What a year wild ride 2020 has been. While it was so strange not going to any concerts, new music from many great country artists certainly got me through. While this was a tough decision to make, my favorite album of 2020 had to be Granger Smith’s Country Things (Both Volumes). It just gives you such perspective to live in the moment and enjoy the little things. This was such an important message for 2020 as while we may not have gotten to enjoy the big events, we got to enjoy those moments with our loved ones we may not have gotten to if we had a year of our normal, busy schedules.


Erica Zisman, Contributing Writer


If there is one thing that got me through this year, it was music. As 2020 comes to a close, I could not be more grateful for country music! With that being said, my favorite record of 2020 has to be HARDY’s album, A ROCK.

I am completely in love with everything HARDY does as a singer, a songwriter, and a performer. He continues to exceed my expectations and delivers music that I relate to, enjoy, and want to share with my friends and family. HARDY’s ability to craft lyrics is a skill I’ll never get enough of. Moreover, his record is a cohesive masterpiece that tells a full story from start to finish.

Songs like the title track, “A ROCK,” “GIVE HEAVEN SOME HELL,” and “SO CLOSE” are all so different, yet distinctly HARDY.  Time after time, the singer-songwriter and superstar in the making proves that he has an IQ high above the rest when it comes to creating a captivating song and full-length project.

I truly cannot wait to see what he does next. Also, it is an added bonus that HARDY gave us all a live concert via streaming to celebrate this record. Even through the screen, I could feel how amazing the record truly is and will be when performed in front of a live audience; hopefully next year! Congrats to HARDY and his team for delivering a badass and unique record to an ever-growing fanbase!

Honorable Mention: Jordan Davis Self-titled EP


How do our favorite picks match up to yours? Let us know what music you’ve had on repeat in 2020. Already anticipating new music in 2021? Check out our list of albums to expect in the new year here.




The Hero Collection by NYCountry Swag is inspired by the men and women of the Fire, Police and Military Departments across the country. A portion of sales from each purchase is donated to different foundations that support our heroes. We are dedicated to honoring their service and remembering their sacrifice.


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Little Big Town Bring The Nightfall Tour to the Iconic Apollo Theater

To celebrate on the day that their 9th studio album was released, Little Big Town brought their impeccable harmonies to the Apollo Theater on Friday night (Jan 17). The project, Nightfall has a celestial element and the tour with the same name dares attendees to let go of everything they might have expected from the foursome in the past and allow powerful lyrics and dazzling visuals to enhance their concert experience.

Caitlyn Smith Nightfall Tour

The historic stage in New York City has housed some of the greatest artists of our time and to appropriately kick off the night, Caitlyn Smith took the stage, looking absolutely angelic. Performing previously released tracks like “Starfire” as well as “Long Time Coming” and “Put Me Back Together” which will be included on her next full-length album due out in March. The songstress’s voice filled the hallowed halls, her vibe teetering on rock goddess and pop princess while her song lyrics definitely fit the country music storytelling genre. Her soaring vocals on “Tacoma” a song she wrote with Bob DiPeiro and recorded by Garth Brooks stunned the audience and after her thirty-minute set, there is no doubt she garnered plenty of new fans.

Little Big Town Nightfall Tour

Karen, Kimberly, Jimi, and Phillip took the stage to officially start their tour and New York City fans welcomed them with roaring applause. Throughout the night, Little Big Town honored their brand new music by performing almost every single song, introducing fans and giving them a live performance to recall when having the chance to now listen to Nightfall on their own. Adding to their incredible harmonies, the production that accompanied each of the major songs like “The Daughters”, “Sugar Coat”,  “Wine, Beer, Whiskey”, and “Problem Child” was stunning, captivating the audience and perfectly in tune with the aesthetic.

It wouldn’t be a Little Big Town show without hearing some of their major all time hits and over the course of their almost two-decade career,  they have had plenty to choose from. The more upbeat tracks that had the audience on their feet included “Little White Church” which was on their 2010 album as well as bringing it all the way back to “Boondocks” from their 2005 album “The Road To Here”. They also sprinkled hits like “Pontoon”, “Sober”, and “Tornado” into their setlist appeasing long time fans.

Little Big Town Nightfall Tour

The ability to go back into the archives and perform hits from the past along with brand new music that they probably have never performed in from of an audience before is impressive. The band did not miss a beat, proving their longevity and staying power in the genre. As they each took turns taking the lead, their individual voices and styles shined but collectively when they allowed their harmonies to take center stage, they were outstanding.

Closing out the night with undeniably their biggest hit, “Girl Crush”, Little Big Town had the entire venue on their feet and singing along. The echo of the audience capped off a brilliant night of music. For fans looking to catch this tour,  check out the full list of dates through May below.

Jan. 30-31 — Philadelphia, Pa. @ The Met Philadelphia
Feb. 1 — Pittsburgh, Pa. @ Benedum Center
Feb. 7-8 — Boston, Mass. @ Boch Center Wang Theatre
Feb. 14-15 — Cincinnati, Ohio @ Taft Theatre
Feb. 20 — St. Louis, Mo. @ Fabulous Fox Theatre
Feb. 21-22 — Indianapolis, Ind. @ Murat Theatre
Feb. 26-27 — Tampa, Fla. @ Ruth Eckerd Hall
March 5-6 — Charleston, S.C. @ Charleston Gaillard Center
March 7 — Atlanta, Ga. @ Fox Theatre
March 12 — Detroit, Mich. @ Fox Theatre
March 13-14 — Chicago, Ill. @ The Chicago Theatre
March 27-28 — Salt Lake City, Utah @ Eccles Theater
April 9-10 –Seattle, Wash. @ The Paramount Theatre
April 15 — Portland, Ore. @ Keller Auditorium
April 17-18 — Oakland, Calif. @ Fox Theater Oakland
April 23-24 — Los Angeles, Calif. @ The Theatre at Ace Hotel
April 26 — Las Vegas, Nev. @ The Colosseum at Caesars Palace
April 28 — Phoenix, Ariz. @ Comerica Theatre
May 1-2 — Denver, Colo. @ Paramount Theatre

For tickets and more information head to

To keep up with Little Big Town follow them on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook.



The Hero Collection by NYCountry Swag is inspired by the men and women of the Fire, Police and Military Departments across the country. A portion of sales from each purchase is donated to different foundations that support our heroes. We are dedicated to honoring their service and remembering their sacrifice.


Thank You for supporting Country Music in NYC & Beyond!

Subscribe to our Weekly Round-Up here
for ticket giveaways, meet & greet contests, upcoming events,
and all things country music in the New York metro area and beyond!

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NYCS First Impression: Little Big Town ‘Nightfall’

Nightfall Little Big Town

For the better part of two decades, Little Big Town has been country music’s reigning super-group. Combining four distinctly powerful voices into one ethereal harmony has long been their piece de resistance. Nowhere is this more evident than on their ninth studio album, Nightfall, out today (Jan. 17).

The thirteen-track collection is an epic series that explores the highs and lows of life in a unique way. Self-produced by the foursome, along with Ian Fitchuk and Daniel Tashian (Golden Hour), each song stands on its own as a musical masterpiece, but together, they make up what just might be Little Big Town’s best and most cohesive album yet. “This was a journey, and still is. Whether you’re going to the mountains, or the beach, even sitting in your living room with a glass of wine, this record is an experience,” Kimberly Schlapman reveals in a statement. “It will take you through so many places in life, hopefully sink in, and take you where you need to go, or give you what you’re looking to find.”

What’s most apparent on Nightfall is that the group shines as individual singers, each of them taking a chance at lead. However, the sum of their parts is even more powerful, their vocals soaring in a way that’s so uniquely Little Big Town. On this album, the lyrics and the vocals shine, complemented by the instrumentation rather than distracted by it. “It’s so easy to keep layering guitars on top of each other,” Jimi Westbrook says in a statement. “Every sound is intentional on this record. We’d empty tracks out to create more space. Those spaces let the energy come through. The space allows you to absorb what we’re saying.” This is evidenced on the dreamy “River of Stars,” with its twinkling instrumentation, as well as on “Wine, Beer, Whiskey,” which features pulsating horns and drums in a way that is sure to soar in a live setting.

“Problem Child” is another musically magnificent moment of the album, featuring Westbrook’s voice soaring over a simple piano melody that then transcends into a full orchestral piece as the song builds. “Are you the black sheep?/ Have you been lonely?/ Out on the outside/ You’re not the only one,” he sings, his voice vulnerable and emotive. “What’s your problem, child?” Written by all four members of LBT with Sean McConnell and Tofer Brown, this is one of the album’s many standouts, tackling a seemingly taboo subject. Yet, they manage to do it in a way that’s beautiful, but still important.

The quartet also offers different takes on love lost on Nightfall, from the buoyant “Over Drinking” to the Pleasantville-esque situation of “Sugar Coat” to the what-could’ve been longing of “Questions” and lastly, the achingly beautiful “Trouble With Forever.” On “Questions, which she co-wrote with Jon Green and Sarah Haze, Fairchild finds herself wondering about the one that got away as she speaks those questions that she longs to ask. “I’ve got questions/ With no intention/ Of ever saying ’em out loud,” She wonders mournfully. “Did you give her/ My old key/ Am I anywhere in your memory?/ I can’t sleep/ It’s keeping me up tonight/ I’ve got questions.”

“Trouble With Forever,” written by Jason Saenz, Marc Beeson, and Haze, closes out Nightfall on an exquisitely bittersweet note. “We love how forever begins/ But the trouble with forever/ Is it always ends,” they harmonize. We won’t ruin the ending for you here, but make sure you have tissues on standby.

Of the project, Philip Sweet offers. “If people can open their hearts and just connect with music in a way that feeds them, makes them feel what they need or want to, then we got it.”

Sweet is absolutely right; they’ve got it. Nightfall is truly a majestic offering that transcends genre, making you feel and believe every word the quartet sings.

Nightfall Track List:

1. “Next to You” (Hillary Reynolds, Michael Jade, Trevor Jarvis)
2. “Nightfall” (Karen Fairchild, Daniel Tashian, Fancy Hagood)
3. “Forever and a Night” (Karen Fairchild, Jimi Westbrook, Phillip Sweet, Foy Vance)
4. “Throw Your Love Away” (Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Hillary Lindsey, Liz Rose, Lori McKenna)
5. “Over Drinking” (Carey Barlowe, Jesse Frasure, Ashley Gorley, Steph Jones, Hillary Lindsey)
6. “Wine, Beer, Whiskey” (Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Jimi Westbrook, Phillip Sweet, Sean McConnell, Tofer Brown)
7. “Questions” (Karen Fairchild, Jon Green, Sara Haze)
8. “The Daughters” (Karen Fairchild, Sean McConnell, Ashley Ray)
9. “River of Stars” (Karen Fairchild, Daniel Tashian, Ian Fitchuk)
10. “Sugar Coat” (Josh Kerr, Jordyn Shellhart, Lori McKenna)
11. “Problem Child” (Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Jimi Westbrook, Phillip Sweet, Sean McConnell, Tofer Brown)
12. “Bluebird” (Karen Fairchild, Daniel Tashian, Ian Fitchuk)
13. “Trouble With Forever” (Jason Saenz, Marc Beeson, Sara Haze)

NYCountry Swag Picks:
1. Nightfall
2. Trouble with Forever
3. Questions
4. Problem Child

In support of Nightfall, Little Big Town will kick off their Nightfall Tour in New York City tonight (January 17) and tomorrow at the legendary Apollo Theater. They played an exclusive album release show yesterday at Carnegie Hall. For more tour dates and tickets, make sure to check out their official website.

To keep up with Little Big Town, follow them on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook.

Nightfall is now available everywhere you buy or stream music. Take a listen below and check out more new recently released music here on our ‘New Country Music’ playlist. Be sure to give the playlist a follow for your weekly new country music fix.





The Hero Collection by NYCountry Swag is inspired by the men and women of the Fire, Police and Military Departments across the country. A portion of sales from each purchase is donated to different foundations that support our heroes. We are dedicated to honoring their service and remembering their sacrifice.


Thank You for supporting Country Music in NYC & Beyond!

Subscribe to our Weekly Round-Up here
for ticket giveaways, meet & greet contests, upcoming events,
and all things country music in the New York metro area and beyond!

+ Follow our country music adventures on InstagramTwitter & Facebook: