What We’re Listening To: November Picks

We recently welcomed a team of writers to the NYCountry Swag Squad. With that, we’re excited to share a new monthly feature with our “What We’re Listening To” playlist, where we’re highlighting 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: “Rules of Breaking Up” – Brandon Ratcliff
Songwriters: A.J Babcock, Brandon Ratcliff, busbee, Pete Good

“Brandon Ratcliff is a brand new artist to hit the scene, but he is sure to make a big impact in the country music world. I first heard his song “Rules of Breaking Up” when one of our writers sent me a 30-second video clip from the song during a writers round she attended in Nashville. I watched that 30-second clip maybe 100 times that night alone. I was immediately hooked on the chorus and knew it was going to be a jam. Fast forward a few weeks later and the song was officially released on all music platforms. I’ve pretty much had it on repeat ever since. The song proposes the realistic idea that a break-up is easier said than done and puts that thought into relatable and catchy lyrics. Paired with a fresh and unique sound, “Rules of Breaking Up” is a standout song in the slew of new country music songs being released.”

“Whoever wrote the rules of breaking up never kissed your lips, touched your skin, had the world at their fingertips / Didn’t have a clue what heaven was / No, they didn’t have to lose that kind of love / And if they ever saw that smile, ever felt your vibe, they might know what I’m going through / Whoever wrote the rules of breaking up, never been broke up, broke up over you”


Christina Bosch, Managing Editor 

Pick: “When I Was His Wife” – Pistol Annies
Songwriters: Angaleena Presley, Ashley Monroe, Miranda Lambert

“What is better than one badass female country artist? Three badass female country artists.  Pistol Annies have never backed down, never shied away from writing and singing the truth and with their latest release, Interstate Gospel the truth isn’t the only thing they are serving up.  After Lambert’s very public divorce, the ladies have more than enough material and “When I Was His Wife” takes heartbreak to a whole new level.  The song which was written by the Annies focuses on the veil of love that blinds you in when a relationship is new, only to realize it isn’t all it seems to be as things start to fall apart.  It takes the stance of the ex singing to the new woman in her man’s life.

“He’d never cheat, he’d never lie / He’ll love me forever, till the day that we die / He’ll never take me for granted / I said that too when I was his wife”

“Holy Matrimony” this track from the new album is real and raw, showcasing the southern belle’s heartbreak and the storytelling that traditional country music is known for. I will always love a good emotional wreckage song.


Nicole Bochinis, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Love Heals” – Levi Hummon feat. Alison Krauss
Songwriters: Levi Hummon, Marcus Hummon, Tom Douglas 

“I heard “Love Heals” for the first time back in August when Levi Hummon came to Stamford CT. I was blown away by the song and the story behind it. Hummon’s voice is truly amazing and it pairs perfectly with Alison Krauss’ beautiful vocals.  The song was inspired by his mother and her Thistle Farms charity. The organization provides support and employment to victims of sexual assault and human trafficking. This song just gives a hopeful message to all of the women who have suffered. I also feel that this powerful message is for anyone who is struggling. No matter what you are going through, and no matter what is going on in the world, love is powerful, and love heals.”


Kelly Cunningham, Contributing Writer

Pick: “How Do I Get Close” – Nick Wayne
Songwriters: Nick Wayne, Josh Kerr, Hannah Ellis

“The first time I heard Nick Wayne sing his upcoming songs at The Listening Room in Nashville he sang this with his friend Josh Kerr and his girlfriend Hannah Ellis. The vocals on this song are insane and the harmonies are even better. He just recently released this song in October and it’s long overdue for the world to hear him. Wayne’s a game-changer to the country music scene and I can’t wait for his upcoming project to drop.”


Molly Holmberg, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Miss Love” – Julia Cole
Songwriters: Andy Timmons, Julia Cole, Simon Gugala

“Now I may be biased towards my pick of the month, maybe because I was just on tour with her or because I shot her new single cover, but nonetheless Julia Cole’s new single “Miss Love” is nothing short of amazing. The Houston, Texas native is stunning fans with her perfect combination of country, R&B, and pop and has caught the eyes of many in the country music world including CMT! “Miss Love” is a song about resisting the urge to fall back into an unhealthy relationship with the wrong person just because you miss the perks of being in love. This catchy upbeat song gets everyone singing along during her concert and you will too after the first time you hear it. This single is just a part of a full-band EP that is set to release in 2019, so be on the lookout!”


Nicole Piering, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Do You Ever Dream” – Delta Rae
Songwriters: Brittany Holljes, Eric Holljes, Ian Holljes

“From the opening line of Delta Rae‘s “Do You Ever Dream?,” I was immediately captivated by the discernible ache in the lead singer’s (Brittany Holljes) voice. While the song begins acapella, the music builds around the vocals, with guitars, drums, and harmonies adding to the song, rather than detracting from it. That musical build climaxes all the way at the end of the song, and the result is absolutely magical. In some ways, “Do You Ever Dream?” reminds me of country music from the early-2000’s, and that is NOT a bad thing. It’s been on repeat for me since I first heard it, and I can’t wait to hear more from this band. In fact, I’d argue that if this song was released by Little Big Town, it would be a huge hit, and it deserves to be a breakthrough moment for Delta Rae.”


Olivia Reese, Contributing Writer

Pick: “This Feeling” – The Chainsmokers feat. Kelsea Ballerini
Songwriters: Alex Pall, Andrew Taggert, Emily Warren

“There have been numerous collaborations between pop and country artists in the past few months, but “This Feeling” captures the unique blend of The Chainsmoker’s electro-pop sound and Kelsea Ballerini’s country background to create a one of a kind song, that I think is perfect for both a Saturday afternoon drive or a night out.

The song brings back the nostalgia of high school or college and going after someone you are crazy about, that your friends don’t like as they try to convince you out of it, to “Think with my head, not that thing in my chest/They got their hands at my neck this time”. Despite their pleas, in your best interest, to reconsider you don’t listen because “They don’t know what this feeling is like.””


Nicole Sellati, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Float Your Boat” – Ryan Follese
Songwriters: Adrienne Follese, Cameron Montgomery, Jamie Follese, Keith Follese, Ryan Follese

“I’ve been a fan of singer-songwriter, Ryan Follese since he was the lead singer of Hot Chelle Rae. Ever since then I have kept up with his career and was happy to learn he was working on a solo album in country music. I had the chance to see him perform again on last years tour with Sam Hunt and have been listening to his music non-stop. His entire album is on repeat but in particular the song, “Float Your Boat,” making it the perfect November pick for me. I love how the song is all about living in the moment and doing whatever makes you happy, which is exactly how I try to live life. I can’t wait to see what comes next for his career!”


Danielle Tornatore, Contributing Writer

Pick: “It Ain’t You It’s Me” – Kane Brown
Songwriters: Kane Brown, Taylor Phillips, Josh Hoge, Brock Berryhill

“Kane Brown is one of my top five favorite country artists and I have been anxiously awaiting the release of Experiment since it was announced. I’ve had it on repeat since the clock struck midnight last Friday and “It Ain’t You It’s Me” has been the standout for me. For some reason, I’m always drawn to the heartbreaking tracks of albums. Though this one is a bit more upbeat, the message is all the same. I’m hoping this will be on his setlist for the ‘Live Forever Tour’ next year!”


Shanna Vitaliano, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Last Shot” – Kip Moore
Songwriters: Kip Moore, Dan Couch, David Lee Murphy

“Kip Moore’s “Last Shot” takes a different outlook on the true meaning of loving someone. I came to really admire this song as I understood the genuine meaning behind the lyrics.  There’s no doubt that Moore’s rugged and infectious vocals can reel you in, but the meaning behind living life to its fullest and enjoying it with the person you care about is what makes the song so special.
Lyrics such as: “If you were my last breath, I’d just want to hold ya/ If you were my last night I ever had on wheels/ I’d wanna drive you like I stole ya,” makes you think of how you’d want to spend the last moments with a person you love.

It is the perfect reminder to show how much you cherish someone as well as who and what matters most in life.”


Erica Zisman, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Whole Lot In Love” – Austin Burke
Songwriters: Austin Burke, Sherrie Austin, Will Rambeaux

“My November song pick came pretty easy this month. Keeping with my theme of picking songs that resonate with me personally, while still having that aspect of story-telling that is such a staple of country music, this month I went with Austin Burke’s “Whole Lot In Love.”

Burke puts his own twist onto a love song, having a hard time expressing that he’s in love with his partner and exploring the consequences of admitting his feelings out loud. The song is relatable and catchy, while the singer’s unique voice gives it an edgy feel. On a personal note, I can relate to having some difficulty expressing how I feel in relationships, so this track definitely hit home for me.”



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Sam Hunt, Maren Morris & Chris Janson Sell Out Madison Square Garden

Sam Hunt I Madison Square Garden

One album, four years after his debut EP, only six songs sent to radio, Sam Hunt has reached extraordinary heights in a very small amount of time.  Thursday night was no different for the genre-bending superstar, completely selling out Madison Square Garden. As the “15 in a 30” Tour made its NYC stop, Hunt’s tour mates Ryan Follese, Chris Janson and Maren Morris took part in the epic evening, warming up the crowd.

Ryan Follese I Madison Square Garden

As fans were packing into The Garden, Ryan Follese took the stage to play a few songs including his latest single, “Put a Label On It”. “I know every artist probably says this but this is totally a bucket list item, playing this stage tonight,” he told the crowd.  The former frontman of the pop-punk band, Hot Chelle Rae, has recently released a few singles to country radio all on his own.  Mashing up the theme song to “Fresh Prince of Bel-air” and his former band’s biggest hit, “Tonight Tonight” had the audience jumping around and singing along.

A common theme throughout the night of incredible music was the fans packing out The Garden from beginning to end. It didn’t matter if a song was a radio single, a number one hit or a track buried on an album. Fans didn’t care if it was traditional country or had a twinge of R&B or pop, they cared that they loved the artists and the way the night made them feel.

Chris Janson I Madison Square Garden


Chris Janson was the perfect opening act for such a big show, providing the crowd with a high-energy set that left fans on their feet.  Singing all of his radio singles including “Buy Me a Boat”, “Fix a Drink” and even his unique version of “Truck Yeah” which he wrote and Tim McGraw cut.  “We are in the greatest city on God’s green earth tonight, I love America and I love New York City,” Janson said, which was met with an eruption of cheers.  Before singing his smash hit “Holdin’ Her,” (which he wrote for his wife, Kelly, and his children) he explained, “I believe if you speak simple acts of positivity to the world, positive acts rain down upon you”.  His inspirational words were the perfect lead-in for the love song. Before closing out his set, he let the fans in on a secret, that the very first instrument he ever learned to play was the drums for a punk rock heavy metal band. He took a seat behind the drumset showing off his skills.

Next to take the stage, Maren Morris, is the perfect counterpart for a Sam Hunt tour. Morris creates a unique version of country music, blending country with R&B. The power vocalist sang songs off her debut album Hero only stopping throughout her set to thank the audience for their enthusiasm and for singing along.  From her latest single “I Could Use a Love Song” to “Once” and “80’s Mercedes” every song had fans on their feet and swaying along.


Maren Morris I Madison Square Garden


“I never thought I would be doing this song at Madison Square Garden.  It’s such a special night and it’s been an amazing week and it all started with this song,” she explained. “I’m gonna take you to church on this one” Holding up her microphone to the sold-out crowd, she watched in amazement thousands of people singing her lyrics back to her.  The moment was a highlight of the evening, even bringing the songstress to tears.

Hunt’s headlining set featured songs that were exclusively on his first mixtape Between the Pines as well as covers of songs he has written for other artists and of course, his most recent absolute smash, “Body Like A Back Road”. The atmosphere was electric as Hunt’s amped up production featured huge screens and even smoke. It was the perfect mix of spectacle and slowed down moments that allowed the fans to feel like they were taking part in something really special.

Reminiscing to playing Irving Plaza for a small crowd three years ago, Hunt acknowledged how quickly his career has taken its turn and how he has had an incredible year. “This is amazing to be playing Madison Square Garden, I would say it is definitely a highlight of 2017 for me, it’s been a good year,” he tells the crowd in a moment between songs. Taking a moment to also thank Billy Currington for cutting “We Are Tonight” which was written before his career as an artist took off.

Sam Hunt I Madison Square Garden

This being his first headline tour, Hunt took a few minutes to slow things down, sit on a stool by himself on stage and talk to his adoring fans. Taking us through his musical journey growing up in Georgia, the acoustic set featured songs from all genres including traditional country, R&B, and pop music. He explained to the crowd filled with men and women of all ages, “This generation, y’all don’t pay attention to genres of music; you don’t pay attention to genres of people. You listen to what makes you feel good; you hang out with people you like, not people who look like you.”  The sentiment hit home, where fans of Hunt do not care which radio station is playing his songs, they only care that they love his songs.  Before ending his night on the main stage with “Break Up In A Small Town,” Hunt took to a smaller stage on the opposite end of the venue to perform “Make You Miss Me” on piano. Hunt showed versatility and the ability to entertain a sold-out crowd in New York City.

Overall, the epic night ended with confetti spraying down and fans leaving The World’s Most Famous Arena super impressed with the four-hour show. The 15 in a 30 Tour continues through the month.  For more information and tour dates check out

NYCountry Swag I Madison Square Garden

Perhaps one of the most surreal parts of the night for us was running into so many fans rocking New York Country Swag gear! We saw everything from our Red & Blue Line Snapbacks to our Whiskey Me Away Flannels. Thank You for the support and for rockin’ your swag! Most importantly, Thank You for supporting Country Music in NYC!



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