2017 has been such great year for country music it’s tough to keep up with all the new songs. Amid the celebrated releases from Chris Stapleton, Jason Isbell and Willie Nelson, you may have missed out on these great country tunes. From a song about pursuing your dreams at all cost to a classic boy-meets-girl tale with a twist, here are 10 of the best songs that went under the radar this year.
10. Lindi Ortega, “Til the Goin’ Gets Gone”
Lindi Ortega has been consistently releasing great music since her 2011 debut Little Red Boots. And when the ups and downs of the music biz started to get to her she did what any great artist would do – she wrote a song about it. “Til the Goin’ Gets Gone” is an ode to perseverance and a theme song for anyone with a dream.
9. Jaime Wyatt, “Giving Back the Best of Me”
Jaime Wyatt sings of rough starts and redemption on her debut album Felony Blues. On the steel guitar-laden ballad “Giving Back the Best of Me,” the outlaw country singer sings about the grace and strength it takes to make a new start.
8. Angaleena Presley, “Wrangled”
As one-third of the Pistol Annies, Angaleena Presley is no stranger to singing about Heartland-born desperation. But the title track to her 2017 release Wrangled is a tour de force for an already accomplished singer-songwriter.
7. Sarah Shook and the Disarmers, “Dwight Yoakam”
Sarah Shook and the Disarmers weave a rowdy punk spirit with a honky tonk sound. But on “Dwight Yoakam” the North Carolina band is just pure country. The opening line – “I’m drinking water tonight ’cause I drank all the whiskey this morning” – is a contender for best country lyric of the year.
6. Marty Stuart and the Fabulous Superlatives, “Whole Lotta Highway (With a Million Miles to Go)
Marty Stuart reminds us why he’s still one of the most beloved and sought-after Music City artists on his Bakersfield-inspired 2017 album Way Out West. Not that we ever needed a reminder. “Whole Lotta Highway (With a Million Miles to Go)” revives the classic country narrative of the untameable truckstop rambler.
5. Mickey Guyton, “Nice Things”
Mickey Guyton comes to terms with a broken relationship on the tender and introspective “Nice Things,” written by Guyton, Liz Rose and Stephanie Chapman.
4. Ashley McBryde, “A Little Dive Bar in Dahlonega”
While the greater majority of mainstream country artists sing about living for the weekend, Ashley McBryde is singing about living for right now. That includes the terrible days where everything is terrible and nothing goes right. “A Little Dive Bar in Dahlonega” is about how breakups, breakdowns and wrong turns can lead to something wonderful.
3. Sam Outlaw, “Say it to Me”
Sam Outlaw’s Tenderheart is one of the year’s most impressive albums and “Say it to Me,” a soaring, breezy song about deceptive love, is Outlaw at his best.
2. Zephaniah OHora and the 18 Wheelers, “Way Down in My Soul”
New York City-based country artist Zephaniah OHora seemingly came out of nowhere with his 2017 debut This Highway. Traditional while still feeling modern, the album effortlessly blends the 1960s Nashville Sound with Bakersfield honky tonk. The shuffling love song “Way Down in My Soul” sounds like a lost country gem coming out of an old AM radio.
1. Charlie Worsham, “Old Time’s Sake”
Charlie Worsham’s 2017 album Beginning of Things, featuring a mix of Roger Miller-esque lyrical twists and turns and heartfelt country heartbreak, is one of the most underrated albums of the year. One of the record’s brightest moments is “Old Time’s Sake,” a real-time tale of a barroom encounter.