What We’re Listening To: April 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 picks. Then be sure to give our Spotify account a follow and listen to our favorite tracks!




Stephanie Wagner, Founder

Pick: “Be A Light” – Thomas Rhett feat. Reba, Hillary Scott, Chris Tomlin & Keith Urban
Songwriters: Josh Miller, Josh Thompson, Matt Dragstrem, Thomas Rhett

This month, I’m listening to Thomas Rhett’s “Be A Light” with Reba, Hillary Scott, Chris Tomlin, and Keith Urban. Often times I feel lucky to be a country music fan and a part of the country music industry in general, but in times of turmoil, my pride for the country music world only grows stronger. In the past month, as the world struggles with our new reality surrounding COVID-19, country music stars have worked relentlessly to continue to push positivity forward. “Be A Light” is a strong example of this. Surprising fans with the release of the song, Rhett and friends remind others that through times of darkness, we can all do our part to help by being a light. It’s a song of hope, encouragement, and leaves a feeling of togetherness that the world needs right now. I’ve been listening to it daily and have enjoyed the reminders and positive vibes the song leaves.


Christina Bosch, Managing Editor 

Pick: “Water in his Wine Glass” – Maddie & Tae
Songwriters: Jimmy Robbins, Jon Nite, Maddie Marlow, Taylor Dye

One facet of my life that I have been leaning on intensely during this pandemic is my faith and when I first heard this track from Maddie & Tae’s sophomore album, The Way It Feels, I stopped what I was doing, closed my eyes and just listened. The intricate details in the lyrics that act as a quiet prayer pull you in and curate feelings of sympathy for those who have dealt with addiction.

Wishing things could be different, lamenting alcohol and what it can do to a person, this track is so raw and real. “I don’t wanna lose him / Oh, but he’s already lost / And the only one who can find him is looking down here from a cross”  they sing in angelic harmony. “I’m on my knees and all I ask / Is Lord, pour water in his wine glass”

This perspective can be taken by so many who have coped with the disease of alcoholism and while an ask for help, it can also be a cornerstone for those who believe.


Lucie Bernheim, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Brave” – Ruston Kelly
Songwriters: Ruston Kelly

The last few months have been some of the most life-changing of my life, and music has been what’s gotten me and so many others through. When I heard Ruston Kelly’s new single, “Brave”, I was instantly stunned, as I am when I hear most of his songs. I love it when songs are stripped to their core because the story stands out amongst everything else. While the lyrics are specific to his life and his journey, it’s easy to place yourself in the track. It’s achingly relatable. Kelly is truly a poet, and his words say things that so many want to say but can’t. “And I didn’t give up to the darkness/I fought with all my might/And I never took for granted/All the love in my life.” Spring has just started, and this is the perfect reflection of the changing season and the changing times.


Dylan Bestler, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Young Once” – Sam Hunt
Songwriters: Josh Osborne, Matt Jenkins, Sam Hunt, Zach Crowell

I love everything about this album, so it was hard to pick just one song. I’ve been singing the chorus of “Young Once” over and over again in my head because it’s so catchy and brings me back to a time when nothing really mattered and I could just focus on having fun and trying not to get in trouble. Country music in general is really good at putting you back in that mindset.

Two lines in this song that stand out to me are “Time goes by and it’ll dull the razor” and “Someday we’re gonna know too much to know it all.” Both are cool ways of saying ‘let’s enjoy being young and naive now because we won’t have opportunities like this when we’re older.’ The first is a sadder way of saying it and the second makes me laugh, as it reminds me of times when I’d get in trouble and argue with my parents because I thought I was the smartest person in the world.

I loved my childhood and songs like these help me re-live moments from it in my head.


Kristina Callahan, Contributing Writer

Pick: “overshare” – Kelsea Ballerini
Songwriters: Kelsea Ballerini, Jesse Frasure, Josh Osborne, Tayla Parx

Kelsea Ballerini is one of the best at writing relatable and raw songs and “overshare” is a perfect example. It’s the first song on her third studio album, kelsea, and it’s extremely personable about how she gets nervous in situations and tends to talk and in the process, embarrass herself at times.

“I overshare, because I over-care // ’bout the person over there, who’s completely unaware that // I overthink, then I overdrink to overcompensate // Yeah, I know, there’s moments that I’m missin’ // If I’d just shut up and listen // But silence makes me scared // So then I overshare”

Ballerini’s writing is so honest and as a listener, you see yourself in her songs. Her whole album rings true to that and that’s why I can’t stop listening.


Jeremy Chua, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Getting Good” – Lauren Alaina
Songwriters: Emily Weisband

Lauren Alaina’s current radio single and invitation to live in the moment cannot be any more apt. In a time where many of us are forced out of our comfort zone by circumstances beyond our control, “Getting Good” brings encouragement to the weary heart. Covering relatable themes of love, life, material wealth, loss and contentment, Alaina reminds us that pursuing of wants is OK, but they should co-exist with this simple motto: “Once I learn to grow right where I’m planted, maybe that’s when life starts getting good.” If your life has also been a roller-coaster ridden with doubt and uncertainty, go check this song out. I’m almost certain it’ll speak to you and provide some comfort to the heart. After all, isn’t that what country music does?


Erin Crosby, Contributing Writer

Pick: “2016” – Sam Hunt
Songwriters: Josh Thompson, Zach Crowell, Sam Hunt

Southside, Sam Hunt’s second studio album, opens with an authentic approach that deals with taking responsibility and holding yourself accountable for former mistakes. This track, titled “2016”, sets the stage to showcase the singer-songwriter inside of Hunt. The stripped-down production holds the type of emotion that speaks to the listener; the one where less is not more.

“And I’d drive a thousand miles to your house / Walk in like I walked out / Put the tears back in your eyes / ‘Cause all my lies could still come true / I’d tell you everything was alright / And hold you, baby, all night / When your heart was all patched up / And our love was good as new / I’d take 2016 / And give it back to you”

In fact, in July of 2018, when this bad-boy country singer sat down in front of a piano for “Make You Miss Me” on the Atlantic City BeachFest stage, it wasn’t hard to admit how gifted of an entertainer Hunt truly is. The performance was done very intimate: just him and the keys. It portrayed the musician.

“2016” does the same. After each listen, the emotion doesn’t soften.


Alexa Ebner, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Bad Advice” – Ingrid Andress
Songwriters: Derrick Southerland, Ingrid Andress, Jamie Moore

So far, I’ve loved every song that Ingrid Andress has released – her debut album, Lady Like is captivating. One of my favorites on the album is the playful, yet sorrowful opening track, “Bad Advice”.  The production is unique and fresh to listen to, most notably with the tropical and soothing extended introduction.

The lyrics are casual, raw, and super relatable! In the very first line the songwriter sings, “I drove / down to Trader Joe’s / straight to aisle 5 / got a bottle of Merlot”. She mixes it up with several ‘talking’ verses that lead us straight into the catchy chorus, which features the juxtaposition of fun-loving lyrics and pure emotional desperation. You can hear the conviction come through Andress’ voice throughout the song, making this one so special.


Julia Grubbs, Contributing Writer

Pick: “I Kept The Roses” – Tenille Townes
Songwriters: Chris Gelbuda, Dustin Christiansen, Tenille Townes

It’s one thing to be alone during this time, but for anyone going through a breakup, this song hits right to the heart. Tenille has been my number one lately, and this song doesn’t disappoint. It might be a breakup song, and you can tell it truly hurt, but rather than being resentful or pitying herself, she’s found the seed for growth. She realizes that to have loved and lost is better than to have never loved at all and that she realizes that love is still possible, even though she’s dealing with a broken heart. It reminds us all that no matter how low we might feel, we can always grow and learn something, and be so grateful for the journey.
“And they should make me lonely / But I’m smiling instead / Oh, ’cause you weren’t the one, babe / But you were the closest”

Molly Holmberg, Contributing Writer

Pick: “This Woman and This Man” – Clay Walker
Songwriters: Jeff Penning, Michael Lunn

Ever since COVID-19 hit I have decided to move home for a few weeks to spend more time with my family since school is all online. One thing I have missed is listening to old, classic country with my dad. The song that I, shamefully, forgot existed is Clay Walker’s “This Woman and This Man”. The song, well it’s a heartbreaker. The singer confronts his partner sharing his feelings that he beforehand was unable to explain. This hypothetical situation he is singing about attempts to get the woman to see it is their relationship as they drift apart. The lyrics in the song are masterfully crafted and it is songs like these that make me fall in love with classic country all over again.


Nicole Piering, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Be A Light” – Thomas Rhett feat. Reba, Hillary Scott, Chris Tomlin & Keith Urban
Songwriters: Josh Miller, Josh Thompson, Matt Dragstrem, Thomas Rhett

In these crazy times, most of us use music to escape. For this reason, I’m picking Thomas Rhett’s “Be a Light” as my April pick. On the track, Rhett enlists some famous friends including Reba McEntire, Hillary Scott, Chris Tomlin, and Keith Urban to spread his message of doing what’s right and being a light in the darkness. “Don’t hide in the dark, you were born to shine,” They sing. “In a world full of hate, be a light.” It’s a message we could all use right now, and the combination of these five distinct, yet familiar voices, make the song all the more special.


Michal Pietrzak, Contributing Writer

Pick: “That’s Everything” – Matt Kennon
Songwriters: Aaron Scherz, Adam Browder

Matt Kennon “That’s Everything” – This song is my an early contender to become The Most Beautiful Country Songs of 2020. Calm, slow tunes and compelling lyrics are my cup of tea. The song is about little things in life that matter the most. How a pinch of love and a message on a mirror can change your day in a positive way. Matt Kennon’s raspy voice makes this song a gem, at least, for me. “Listening to her even though I don’t have a thing to say/ Making sure she knows she’s the best part of my day/ A random outta nowhere just because I can steal her kiss/ I’ve burnt a couple of dinners trying to give her all that I get/ It don’t seem like much/ But a little bit of love doing what it does/ It’s more than enough”.


Rebekah Milsted, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Humble and Kind” – Tim McGraw
Songwriters: Lori McKenna

My April pick is Humble and Kind by Tim McGraw. This song was always special to me, I even have a sign hanging up in my living room. But now during these weird times, the lyrics mean more than ever. While we may not like being able to live our normal routine, we have to remember that we are all in this together. Be nice to those around you, especially those essential employees who are putting themselves in danger to make sure we have everything that we need.

Pick: “Both” – Ingrid Andress
Songwriters: Derrick Southerland, Ingrid Andress, Jordan Schmidt

Andress exploded onto the country music scene with “More Hearts Than Mine” earlier this year, but one of my favorites off her new album is a track titled “Both”. We’ve all had someone who wants to have their cake and eat it too when it comes to love (or maybe we’ve been that person) – getting close enough to reap the benefits of a relationship but not close enough to fully commit. It can be infuriating when the other person is half in, half out, especially when you just want to know where you stand. Andress’ chilling vocals on this song and the poignant lyrics around the topic are sure to give you all the feels.

“You can tell me to stay / You can push me away / Have space or get close / But you can’t do both / You can kiss me goodnight / Or kiss me goodbye / Baby, love me or don’t / But you can’t do, you can’t do both”


Erica Zisman, Contributing Writer

Pick: “thank you anxiety” – Avenue Beat
Songwriters: Sam Backoff, Sami Bearden, Savana Santos, Summer Overstreet

This month I chose to highlight Avenue Beat’s brand new song “thank you anxiety.” First and foremost, if you have not yet heard of Avenue Beat, stop what you’re doing, and go listen to them. They are a trio of extremely talented ladies, who not only can sing but have swagger for days and killer lyrics. This particular song is extremely relatable for me, and I am sure many others out there.

Typically anxiety is not something discussed in a country song, but the group does it in such a way that rids it of its taboo, while maintaining a necessary level of sass, maturity, and sarcasm. The songstresses deliver a song that is especially relevant in today’s climate. Their honesty and openness to discuss something so personal, yet important is refreshing. I appreciate their ability to ‘go there’ with their music, and I look forward to more inspiring songs by the girls!

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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