10) Royal Wood – “Make your mind up”
-If you’ve been around my coverage in the past few years, you’ll know that gospel-influenced Americana is good for my soul. In the vein of another artist I love, Green River Ordinance, this tune from Royal Wood shows off all the things I love in a good tune. It’s got a quality lead vocal, lovely vocal harmonies, and a clap-along-and-sing chorus. It feels good.
9) Noah Gundersen – “I’m alright”
-This song, from the White Noise B-Sides album, blew me away. The core of the song captures what I’ve always appreciated about Gundersen’s ability to capture the heart of folk music. The reassuring lyrics are powerful and help to ground the song. But the gritty guitar work helps to mesh the lonesome, desparate sounding lyrics into something existential and meaningful. This is not just another song – it’s a crying out in the wilderness.
8) Cat Clyde – “Anymore”
-Take a soothing steel guitar, an ambling rhythm, and a perfect country music vocal… that’s “Anymore” by Cat Clyde. It’s bluesy, folksy, and exceedingly charming. It’s about that moment in a relationship when you both know it’s all over. It’s the woman’s speech on the way out the door, so to speak, but the heartaching sincerity makes it quite endearing. I could listen to it all day.
7) Okay Mann – “Ring Road”
-The energy of this acoustic track is magical. The lead vocal is one of the best I’ve heard all year, honestly. The chord progressions feel familiar. But you know what wins my heart every time? The horns. I guess it’s because I grew up a horn player, but the combination of this full arrangement folk style with horn accents pleases the ear. This is my list, ok man? I love it.
6) Mylo Waters – “Live it on up”
-A lot of the songs on this list come from artists who have been around ETTG for years. Then there’s Mylo Waters, who sneaked right up on me new in 2019. OH MY GOSH this is so good. It’s a bit of classic swing, a bit of a fresh take on a classic sound, and a whole lotta good feelings. Waters has one of those voices that could sell records in the 40s and all the way to the present. The swing, the jazz, and the pop-soul vibe of this track is to die for.
5) Kora Feeder – “Dance with me”
-I knew this song would be on this list from first listen. Kora Feeder has an angellic voice and the wisdom of a prophet in her songwriting. I love the message of hope being rooted in loving one another. There are forces about who are destroying the world that we live in. The way that we can offer resistance is to remember how fleeting we are (all stardust) and to love one another through the trauma. It’s beautiful and much needed.
4) Ryan Dilmore – “Half of my heart”
-Dilmore is a remarkable songwriter who put himself on my radar with this song, but I doubt it will be the last that I feature from him. The harmonies on the chorus and the overall theatrical style of the song reminds me of two artists, Matthew Thiessen from Relient K and Alexander Wolfe. I am blown away by the orchestral work and the complexity of this track. It’s on another level!
3) Tyler Childers – “Creeker”
-I love Childers because of his classic country style, so ignore the first few bars of this track and wait for the fiddle. After that point, you’ll hear the country two step sound that is as old as the mountains that birthed it. Childers’ characteristic lonesome crooning works perfect for the song’s message about desperation and alcohol. If you’ve ever wanted to leave home, but then the city makes you feel out of place, this song is for you. It’s also brilliant in its execution. This is what modern country should be.
2) Mandolin Orange – “Time we made time”
-It’s impossible for me to disconnect a song like this from the album and its story. So in that regard, I’d like to say that the theme of grief from this album is important to grasp the song. But the gentle folk duo harmonies of Mandolin Orange are iconic in this generation. The song’s intimacy about prioritizing communication and healing is not something you hear every day, especially not in the mainstream. This is about as close to the gospel as I’ve heard in a song. This is love.
1) Andrea von Kampen – “If you see her say hello”
-Funny story about this song in my notes — I actually listed von Kampen’s track “Portland” first. It was the best song on that album until I listened to the rest of the album. And I fell in love with this song. It’s got Dylan vibes (as it is a cover), but I don’t want that to detract from the sweetness and intimacy of von Kampen’s style and performance. This is my song of the year.