Check out our staff favorites, from John Mayer’s country crossover hit to Class of 2017 member Devin Dawson.
Markus: “In the Blood” by John Mayer
Like most people, I was skeptical of this new John Mayer record. I thought it may be yet another half-baked attempt by an outside star to crack into the genre. I was wrong. This is an absolutely stellar single that hits the mark on just about every aspect. The vocal is exceptional, and the melody is structured yet compelling. The production, while it could use a little more traditional flair (perhaps a burst of steel guitar), is largely stripped down and allows the other components to shine. And of course, the lyricism is thematically and structurally superb and engaging. In one of the more surprising records of the year, Mayer shows us what a crossover should sound like.
Key Lyrics: “Could I change it if I wanted, could I rise above the flood? / Will it wash out in the water, or is it always in the blood?”
Lydia: “Ain’t Always Pretty” by Logan Mize
The latest EP from Kansas native Logan Mize includes the gem “Ain’t Always Pretty”. Written by Brett Warren, Brad Warren, Lance Miller and Chris Stevens, it highlights keeping sight of what’s important in life: the little things. Mize’s gritty vocals add to the authenticity of the lyrics.
Key Lyrics: “It ain’t always pretty, but you are / It ain’t always easy girl, but it ain’t too hard / Meet me in the back pew, save me a seat / Won’t be anybody there lucky as me.”
Natalie: “Hurricane In My Head” by Ruston Kelly
Every time I start listening to Kelly’s 2016 release Halloween (which has been quite often, lately) I find myself skipping to this track. Kelly’s vocals convey both the pain and comfort depicted in the lyrics, and something about his tone makes it an ideal car singalong. (And, the harmonica gives the track a serious Ryan Adams vibe, which is a welcome bonus.)
Key Lyrics: “You got a way that’s soft and healin / And I don’t even know how or why / All I gotta do is feel that feelin / Touch of your hands like a big blue sky.”
Jonny: “All On Me” by Devin Dawson
Dawson has broken the top 60 on country radio and has been streamed millions of times with this song. I love it every time I hear it, as it reminds me of “Your Body is a Wonderland” (it’s in the same key of F). I love the bounce of the chorus, and the lyric “When it don’t add up you can count on me.” I think he’s primed for success – he sings every word with class and oozes potential. We have to make this guy a star (and help him come to the UK, where I’m based).
Key Lyrics: “When you’re mad you can take it out on me / When it don’t add up you can count on me / When you’re low come get high on me / Make it slow take your time on me.”