This month’s favorites include Old Dominion, Parker McKay, Mike Powell, Thomas Rhett, and Donovan Woods.
Annie: “Some People Do” by Old Dominion
I am absolutely infatuated with this song, which was written by Jesse Frasure, Matt Ramsey, Shane McAnally, and Thomas Rhett. The grammatical structure is cool, and isn’t something often done in music—describing the character without directly doing so. “Some people quit drinking too much / And some people quit lying / Some people decide to grow up / But it’s never good timing.” The mea culpa is sincerely conveyed and the lines are self-aware: “Some people say “sorry” to hear “it’s okay”/ But I know it’s not, so you don’t have to say / That you understand ’cause I know you don’t.”
Natalie: “I Ain’t Ever Loved No One (Acoustic)” by Donovan Woods feat. Tenille Townes
This stunning song comes from Donovan Woods’ latest project: The Other Way, an acoustic reimagining of his 2018 album, Both Ways. While the whole album is stacked with lyrical gut-punches and gentle, tear-inducing guitar (try “Burn That Bridge,” “Another Way,” “I Live A Little Lie”), this one is a true standout. Woods recruited fellow Canadian Tenille Townes to transform the track into a duet, and the result is beautiful. Townes’ distinct voice adds grit and grace, while Woods’ anchors the song’s high-running emotions with an unassuming, matter-of-fact delivery. The lyrics deftly waver from doting and loving to doubtful and apprehensive, adding a welcome layer of complexity to the track’s otherwise sweet message: “And maybe I’ll love again, then again, maybe I won’t / Maybe you feel the same, maybe you don’t / How would I know?”
Markus: “Remember You Young” by Thomas Rhett
Thomas Rhett is an artist who came into his own with 2017’s Life Changes, largely on the back of tightly produced pop-country tracks. What makes his latest pre-release track so special is that, sonically, it poses in distinct contrast to that formula. It’s anthemic, boasting a big hook and chorus that feels arena-ready, and yet distinctly Rhett. It blends his personal songwriting with broader emotional outputs, and in doing so delivers a well-crafted slice of pop-country. The performance has personality, the songwriting is solid, and the production is effective—it’s a showing that has me excited for his upcoming project.
Natalli: “Backstreet Novocain” by Mike PowellKnown to some as the “Quiet Rebel,” Mike Powell’s songwriting is best described as blue-collar poetry. His emotive, imagery-laden lyrics, paired with guitar playing that would make even the best folk artists proud, has earned him an impassioned following in the country’s northeast region. This latest release, available on YouTube, meets his already-high standards and then raises the bar. His soulful voice invites us all on an introspective journey through his own past spent “growing up country.” The song poignantly captures the beauty of childhood innocence and our attempts to return to that state: “We felt no pain / Folding Dad’s bills up like airplanes / We felt no pain / Time was on our side / When we heard that whistle blowin’ / We’d run like hell to race the train / Some call it growing up country / I call it backstreet novocain.” Powell also calls it “the most personal song I’ve ever written.” The risk of vulnerability was well worth it for this track!
Amanda: “Honest” by Parker McKay
The most honest breakup ballad you will ever hear, Parker McKay will crush your heart and soul with her latest single. With lines like, “If I’m just being honest / I don’t care enough to get into it / And that’s a good indication of how we’re doing,” McKay perfectly describes the moment when you realize you just can’t make the relationship work anymore. As if her hard hitting lyrics aren’t enough to win us over, her sultry vocals and delicate melodies bring home the gold and seal the deal.