Our April favorites highlight excellent songwriting, intricate production, and radio-hit potential. Listen below:
Natalie: “Truck Full of Money” by Donovan Woods
Woods’ latest release from his forthcoming album Both Ways, out April 20, conveys both the euphoria and frustration associated with life on the road. The song, for which the instrumentation is perhaps Woods’ most layered yet, starts off boldly and only gathers momentum as it continues. It comforts and reassures me, while simultaneously making me question every life choice I’ve ever made. Another reason to listen: The post-chorus moment when the strings flood in is the sonic equivalent to accelerating on an empty interstate, or a plane taking off on the trip of a lifetime, or maybe even sky diving, but I can’t speak from personal experience on that one. Anyway, I love it.
Lydia: “Born Ready” by Steve Moakler
The ability to connect with people is a must as a singer-songwriter, and Steve Moakler continually proves that he’s a pro at it. I personally love a song that allows you to put yourself in another person’s shoes, and “Born Ready” does just that. The first release and title track off Moakler’s forthcoming album, it’s a tribute to the road warriors and was written to honor the drivers working for Mack Trucks. It also parallels the lives of those musicians, crew members and countless others who spend most of their lives out on the road just trying to make it. Moakler co-wrote the song with Luke Laird and Barry Dean, and it’s a heartfelt anthem highlighting a career and the hardships that come along with it.
Colin: “David Ashley Parker From Powder Springs” by Travis Denning
The title of this track instantly drew me in. What could this song possibly be about? How will the artist make it work? Travis Denning’s debut single tackles a topic covered by many predecessors, but does it with originality. Written by Denning himself, along with Jon Randall and Jessi Alexander, Denning recalls the story of his first fake ID which belonged to David Ashley Parker, a real person. Denning has surprisingly managed to turn David Ashley Parker into a catchy hook. The song is interesting, sounds like a radio hit, and makes me want to meet the real David Ashley Parker.
Markus: “Break Up in the End” by Cole Swindell
Cole Swindell is back with what is his best effort to-date in “Break Up in the End.” An intricate, reflective record, it details an outlook of appreciation rather than pure regret. A mature effort that exudes artistic growth, it fits firmly within the lyrical framework the genre is known for. Swindell’s performance is equal parts emotional and delicate, which adds a layer of personal depth to the single. The track takes Swindell’s strengths as an artist – emotional engagement and strong melodic sense – and utilizes both to craft an effort that shows growth and stands out amongst his peers. It is an outstanding record that certainly holds up among the year’s best so far, and could very well serve as a career moment for Swindell as he heads into his third full-length studio project.
Zack: “Took You Up” by Courtney Marie Andrews
While the country music community is rightfully in awe of new albums from Kacey Musgraves, Ashley McBryde, and Lindi Ortega (among others), let’s not forget that Courtney Marie Andrews released one of the most soulful albums of 2018. While the rich details of this track are what help the theme to stand out, it’s Andrews’ absolutely captivating performance that makes this truly excellent. The song is a testament to relying on others for the help we need sometimes, as well as being thankful for life in itself. This was a rich theme that existed over the majority of Andrews’ latest album, May Your Kindness Remain, and it’s a theme we all need to hear more of in 2018.