“Say You Do”
Written by Shane McAnally, Matt Ramsey, and Trevor Rosen
Dierks Bentley’s at the top of his game right now. “Say You Do” demonstrates why.
It’s subtle, it’s smart, and it’s self-aware. It’s the type of record that only works with some real life experience to back it up.
“Like a Cowboy”
Written by Randy Houser and Brice Long
It’s hard not to be impressed by Randy Houser’s resilience. His ability to build an audience with a reasonably country sound, all while switching from the majors to an independent label, is pretty amazing.
“Diamond Rings and Old Barstools”
Tim McGraw with Catherine Dunn
Written by Barry Dean, Luke Laird, and Jonathan Singleton
Tim McGraw should be applauded for finally meeting the potential that many of us had hoped for after he left the oppressive Curb Records. His most recent album, particularly his last couple singles, have dialed back the loudness, embraced a more traditional and organic sound, reconnected him with the warm vocals with which he had all but lost, and the last two singles have even presented more thoughtful lyrics than he’d been singing in the last few years.
“Just Gettin’ Started”
Written by Rhett Akins, Chris DeStefano, and Ashley Gorley
Competently performed. Creatively stagnant. Completely unnecessary.
“Ain’t Worth the Whiskey”
Written by Josh Martin, Adam Sanders, and Cole Swindell
Cole Swindell makes the case to the lady that burned him that there are a ton of good reasons he might be out drinking tonight. She’s not one of them.
Doth he protest a bit too much? Possibly.
“She Don’t Love You”
Written by Eric Paslay and Jennifer Wayne
Any time a new country single invites comparisons to “Life Turned Her That Way”, you know you’re in for something good.
Written by David Frasier, Ed Hill, and Josh Kear
I’m always going to prefer a drinking anthem written for people who actually work for a living. “Drinking Class” is all about going out on Friday night to let off steam after a long work week.
Written by Nathan Chapman, Charles Kelley, and Darius Rucker
Darius Rucker still seems more committed to keeping the country elements present in his country music than all of his contemporaries that didn’t crossover from the nineties rocks scene. But that commitment is slipping a bit.
“I Remember You”
Written by Kelly Archer, Ben Carver, and Brad Rempel
After the anthemic “Prize Fighter”, Trisha Yearwood softens things with the emotional “I Remember You.” With just an acoustic guitar and simple strings, “I Remember You” is a gorgeous tribute to the memories of someone who has passed from this life to the next.
“Make Me Wanna”
Written by Bart Butler, Larry McCoy, and Thomas Rhett
“Make Me Wanna” is what country music might have sounded like in the nineties if the new traditionalist movement never happened.