Though Sugarland’s Kristian Bush has had his share of hardship of late, his debut solo album, Southern Gravity, is not the musical offering of a man stuck in weathering the lows, but a solid soundtrack to spring’s arrival, with little moments of complex self-awareness that make it both radio-friendly and engaging on deeper listens.

Powerful and beautiful: Blackbirds may be the anti-country, contrasting the often-summery sounds of mainstream country with an album as cold as winter. It is grey, brittle, and biting—yet it shines so brightly. There is a journey you take when listening to Blackbirds that requires 100% of your attention.