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




Stephanie Wagner, Founder

Pick: “Slow Down Hometown” – Brandon Ratcliff
Songwriters: A.J Babcock, Brandon Ratcliff, Peter Good, Shane McAnally

This month I’m listening to Brandon Ratcliff’s latest release “Slow Down Hometown”. The track just officially came out a few days ago, but our team heard it a few months back during his intimate set in New York City with Sofar Sounds.

The song is written as a love letter to your hometown and is completely relatable to anybody who has grown up in that small-town environment. That feeling of growing up and moving on, there’s a new generation of kids running the town and making their own memories. It’s a point of life you think you’re never going to hit until you do.

“Didn’t think you could go on without me // Thought these streets revolved around me // But I outgrew you, couldn’t hold me // Never thought that you’d outgrow me too // Used to think that I hated you // Now I wonder what I’d be if I stayed with you”

Whether leaving for college or a career or just a change in a new city, “Slow Down Hometown” is the perfect song to sum up those feelings of leaving “home”.


Christina Bosch, Managing Editor 

Pick: “Mothers” – Thomas Finchum
Songwriters: Andy Skib, Thomas Finchum, Catt Gravitt

Thomas Finchum’s latest release grabbed my attention from the first time I saw the title. As a new mom, “Mothers” highlights the important job that I have and so many face each day, raising boys to be good men. With the sweetest voice, melodically the track is simple and showcases Finchum’s songwriting skills.

“Mothers do your best to raise ’em up, try not to hold ’em down, they’ll come around / Mothers, let ’em go you can let ’em fall, and if they hit the ground they’ll figure it out / Yeah, sons learn the world from their fathers, they’ll get even farther if they learn how to treat a lady, love a girl from their mothers”

“Mothers” is a testament to hoping that the world can change and that these boys that we are raising will one day respect women the way that they respect and love their moms. The bond between a mom and her son is extraordinary and as “Mothers” comes to a close, the line “Do your best to raise them up” repeats over and over, like a prayer and a plea.


Dylan Bestler, Contributing Writer

Pick: “What I Can’t Put Down” – Jon Pardi
Songwriters: Bart Butler, Brice Long, Jon Pardi

“An old Pardi song but a good one. In “What I Can’t Put Down”, he sings about things he tried for the first time and couldn’t let go since, like cigarettes, his girl, playing music and Jack Daniels. I think it’s funny how Pardi’s third single back in 2014 was one about his hankering for Jack Daniels and five years later in 2019 is singing about breaking up with the whiskey in one of his latest songs “Me and Jack”.

Pardi opened his set at Jones Beach with this track and it was the first time I really listened to it. Ever since then, I’ve had it stuck in my head. Pardi was the artist that got me into the traditional sounding country music and I’m very excited for his upcoming album.”


Julia Grubbs, Contributing Writer 

Pick: “Where Were You” – Eli Young Band
Songwriters: Josh Osborne, Luke Dick, Matt Jenkins

“As I’m trying to get in my last moments of summer, but gearing up for fall, I feel this song has the beats to keep you moving, but it’s not quite “summer party” vibes, serving as the perfect transition song to a season with a bit more chill. We all know our own stories, but how well do we know the significant moments that made other people who they are? These lyrics prompt the listener to reflect on their own past, and maybe initiate some curiosity to get to know the people around them a little deeper. When you finally found yourself, where were you?”


Molly Holmberg, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Me and Jack” – Jon Pardi
Songwriters: Bart Butler, Jon Pardi, Luke Laird, Rhett Akins

“Jon Pardi’s new single “Me and Jack” was the song this month that totally made me replay it over and over again. The similarities between this song and most of Johnny Cash’s really hit the mark with what Pardi was trying to accomplish. The chorus is full of reasons why he hates Jack and makes for such an easy relation for anyone listening. “Me and Jack don’t get along no more / He’s high up on the shelf while I’m lyin’ on the floor / He makes me do things I’ve never done before // He makes me cuss, he makes me fight / Don’t know what I did last night / Should’ve left his ass at the liquor store / Naw, me and Jack don’t get along no more.” With fiddles and steel guitars, Pardi continues to showcase himself as one of the few that are keeping traditional country mainstream these days.”


Abby Kaye-Phillips, Contributing Writer 

Pick: “First Last Name” – Madison Kozak
Songwriters: Claire Douglas, James Slater, Madison Kozak

“It’s rare that a song gives me immediate chills the first time I hear it, but that happened with “First Last Name”. I first heard the song at a female writer’s round in Nashville, long before it was released, and you could hear the entire room getting choked up by the time she hit the first chorus. Country music has a lot of great father-daughter songs, but this ballad is a beautiful testament to the bond a girl has with her dad, and how it’s irreplaceable. Even once you’re married, you never forget where you came from, and your father will always be your first last name.

“He’s the son of a salesman / A short glass old fashion / How’s your car been running lately / Call your mama when you get home safely / He’s sawdust and stain / My heart, my John Wayne / My first last name”

Pick: “All Nighter” – Cole Swindell
Songwriters: Ashley Gorley, Cole Swindell, Jon Nite, Ross Copperman

My August pick is “All Nighter” by Cole Swindell. I don’t think that it’s a secret that Swindell is my favorite artist, so when a new song comes out, it is always on repeat. With summer already almost over, “All Nighter” is the perfect reminder to soak up every minute you have with your loved one before going back to reality with school, work, etc.

We still have three songs to go for the new Down Home Sessions EP, and I can’t wait to see what is in store.


Tricia Murdy, Contributing Writer

Pick: “The Good Ones” – Gabby Barrett
Songwriters: Emily Landis, Gabby Barrett, Jim McCormick, Zachary Kale

Gabby Barrett’s second single is a very different tone and a tune than her first one “I Hope”. She went from scorning a lying cheating ex to appreciating the current love in her life. She wrote this song about her American Idol co-star turned fiancé, Cade Foehner. It’s always nice to hear a country song that’s straight from the heart, positive and not about heartbreak. This is one of those songs.

“You’ll know him when you see him/By the way he looks at me/You’d say he hung the moon/I’d say he hung the galaxy/Nobody does it better/Oh the way he pulls me in/I’ve known a couple bad ones/But they all led me to him/He’s one of the good ones.”

It’s about that real true love that makes you understand why it never worked out with anyone. Can’t wait to see the future love songs that come from this beautiful relationship her and Foehner have!”


Nicole Piering, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Workin’ On The Whiskey” – Trisha Yearwood
Songwriters: Dave Thomson, Jessica Mitchell, Patricia Conroy

“There are few artists who can convey a song like Trisha Yearwood. On “Workin’ On the Whiskey,” Yearwood belts her way through the torchy track, proving that she’s still one of country music’s most powerful voices. Her performance here is absolutely stellar, truly telling the tale of a woman dealing with lost love by “workin’ on the whiskey.”

“I start seein’ things I shouldn’t see/ And wanting things I shouldn’t be/ And wrestlin’ with the memory/ That won’t let me go,” Yearwood belts. “I’ve tried and tried to give you up/ But once you’ve had the strong stuff/ Nothin’ else will be enough, so I’ll be/ workin’ on whiskey.”

Following in the footsteps of the single, “Every Girl in this Town,” this song is a preview of Yearwood’s forthcoming album, Every Girl, (due out August 30), and I couldn’t be more excited.”


Sara Schonmann, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Three Chords & The Truth” – Chase Rice
Songwriters: Chase Rice, Jon Nite, Ross Copperman

“Late songwriter Harlan Howard has written countless songs for notable country artists. He famously noted that “Country music is three chords and the truth.” After being a country fan for quite some time now I truly believe that is the case. Chase Rice brings this claim to life with his track, “Three Chords & The Truth.” The chorus takes listeners to the reasons why people do certain things such as, “Why we break up, fall back in love/ Why we roll around in the bed of a truck/ Why we all stop and hear that one.” It then wraps up with Rice noting, “We get lost in a song or two/ The world don’t move and all I need is you/ And three chords & the truth.” The country star’s intention for listeners to take away through this track is to appreciate the simplicity of country music. The simplicity of country music also has an intense impact it has on people’s lives which is being highlighted through Rice’s song. This genre of music makes its listeners feel an abundance of emotions with the ease of only three chords on the guitar and the raw truthful lyrics of country songwriters.

After just returning from a vacation from Nashville, Tennessee (the heart of country music) I can attest that country music can bring people together from all over the world. Meeting individuals throughout Nashville tours from the north, south, east, and west of the continental U.S. surprised me. However, this was not as surprising as the Australian and European country music fans that filled up the back of a Nashville tour bus and cheered as loud as they could at the Grand Ole Opry. There is no doubt that country music connects individuals all over the globe. The unity of this genre of music has solidified the power of ‘three chords and the truth.”


Christine Sellers, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Hotel Key” – Old Dominion
Songwriters: Josh Osborne, Matthew Ramsey, Trevor Rosen

“I recently heard Old Dominion’s song, “Hotel Key” on my local country station. It’s a fun and upbeat track and I can’t help but sing every word of the chorus. The guitar and percussion sounds on the track are also great and really add to the song’s fun vibe. I’ve had this song on repeat for the last couple of months and I am excited to start checking out more of Old Dominion’s music.”


Danielle Tornatore, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Anything She Says” – Mitchell Tenpenny feat. Seaforth
Songwriters: Mitchell Tenpenny, Mitchell Thompson, Tom Jordan, Jordan Schmidt, Andrew Albert

“Mitchell and Seaforth are two of my top favorite artists at the moment, so when they announced that they were collaborating on this song, I nearly lost it. It was such an unexpected collaboration but turned out to be one of my absolute favorites. This song is very Tenpenny-esque, from the opening guitar notes to the overall beat and tempo. Seaforth’s incredible vocals are a huge contribution to this tune and only make it better. It has such a chill vibe and is definitely a song I can jam out to all year round. The warm-hearted lyrics add something even more special to the song’s essence, speaking about how the guys would do absolutely anything to make their prospective women happy.

“I would wreck all of my plans / Drive until we hit the sand / Catch a sunburn while she tans / I would do, I would do / I’d do whatever she likes / Give her Christmas in July / She ain’t gotta tell me twice / I would do, I would do anything”

As if this collaboration wasn’t exciting enough, hours after the song’s release, the guys announced a tour together! I cannot wait to hear this song live when the “Anything She Says Tour” comes to New York City in December.”


Jaclyn Tracy, Contributing Writer

Pick: “I Wish Grandpas Never Died” – Riley Green
Songwriters: Buford Green, Lendon Bonds, Riley Green

“This month, my pick is “I Wish Grandpas Never Died” by Riley Green. From the second I saw the title of the song I was hesitant to listen to it because I knew it would definitely be really emotional. When I finally listened to it I realized that it was much more than a song about wishing your grandparents never had to leave you. It’s a song about all things country & small-town living. He talks about every porch having a swing, every Monday morning feeling just like Friday night & high school home teams never losing. I love this song so much because it left me feeling the opposite of what I expected, hopeful about some people in our world still wanting simple living, actually enjoying life in the present and living without being on our cellphones every minute.”

Shanna Vitaliano, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Southern Babylon” – Ashley McBryde
Songwriters: Ashley McBryde, Tommy Collier

“Last month, Ashley McBryde released her live performance of “Southern Babylon” in Nashville and I was instantly intrigued and captivated by the conspiratory track.

McBryde wondered “Where do musicians go when they die?” and “Southern Babylon” tells the imaginative story of just that. McBryde’s version of the afterlife is not in heaven or hell, it happens to be in purgatory for musicians. “Southern Babylon” is a bar with a neon sign and a tab that’s already open. It is a place where she can grab a guitar and play forever with the band upstairs and references classics like “Devil Went Down to Georgia,” and “Hotel California.”

I was immediately drawn to her unbelievable songwriting ability and imagination. I also think it’s incredible how McBryde answered a question she’s wondered about in just over four minutes with a little rocker’s edge and sultry flair.


Erica Zisman, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Single” – Lacy Cavalier
Songwriters: Johnny Dibb, Lacy Cavalier, Lauren LaRue

“I have been loving Lacy Cavalier since she released her song “Cheating On U” back in November. Her unique swagger mixed with her ease in creating emotive and relatable lyrics drew me to her music. The songstress recently released her newest EP k i’m done, and while I love every song off of it, the first song, “Single” stands out the most to me.

I decided to pick “Single” for my song of the month because it’s so honest, raw, and catchy. I feel like everyone can relate to an ex getting a new significant other so quickly after your relationship ends. Cavalier sings the words that I think we all have wanted to say to an ex. Truthfully, I would have picked the whole record for my favorite of the month because it tells a complete story from start to finish, and I so appreciate that in a collection of songs. I’m loving the girl-power that is becoming so prevalent in country music right now, and I hope to hear a lot more from Cavalier in the future!”


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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