As we approach the end of the year and start putting together all those year end lists here at Whiskey Riff, I’ve been reflecting a lot on what music has touched me the most over the last 12 months.
I’ve found plenty of new favorite songs and artists, was reminded why I still love Eric Church and Miranda Lambert more than most others after their big album releases, and also realized that there were quite a few songs I absolutely loved that I never dedicated a post to.
Of course, between record releases, single drops, and new music videos, there’s just so much good stuff to cover that certain tracks get lost in the shuffle.
So, with less than two weeks left in 2021, I wanted to give you five more fantastic tunes you may not have heard before to add to your playlist from this year before we kickoff 2022.
With a little bit of Texas, rock and roll, Carolina soul and much more, they’re all deep cuts from each of the records they’re featured on and have become songs I constantly go back to and love so much that I had to share with all of y’all.
Cheers to a great year of country music in 2021 and plenty more to come in 2022:
“Wildest Dream” – Lukas Nelson
Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real put out a stellar record in A Few Stars Apartearlier this year. And one of the album cuts Lukas wrote, “Wildest Dream,” has been on repeat non-stop in my car over the last several months.
As Lukas finds himself looking back after a breakup and remembering how much he loved this girl and their time together, you’ll hear a solid blend of rock and country, like a lot of his music, but with quality lyrics and a melody you will not be able to get out of your head.
I promise, you will absolutely love this song… it’s easily in my top three tracks that were released in 2021:
Most of all, though, it reminded me of going to church with my grandparents in small town North Carolina and standing on the atrocious green carpet (if you know, you know) between the wooden pews while the choir lead the congregation in singing a lot of these songs.
Although it’s not an album full of originals, it’s one of my favorite things she’s ever done. Every single song has incredible production, and for sentimental reasons, it’s near the top of my list of 2021 records.
If you haven’t checked it out yet, take a few minutes to listen to this. Even if you’re not particularly religious, Carrie’s vocals are incredible on this song which makes it worth listening to in and of itself:
“Hometown Hero” – Emily Scott Robinson
Emily Scott Robinson released a fantastic record in American Siren this year, and her song “Hometown Hero” will all but rip your heart clean out. A tribute to her cousin, a veteran lost to suicide, the North Carolina native details all of the things she does without him now as she feels a deep sense of loss and loneliness.
She has to learn to navigate life in their hometown as an adult without him, and it leaves a huge hole in her heart that can never be filled by anything else. If you like sad country songs, I mean really sad country songs, this one’s for you:
“She’s Had Enough of Texas” – Triston Marez
I actually touched on this one briefly when Triston Marez’sself-titled debut album was released, as it was one that caught my attention the first time I listened all the way through. But now that the album has had some time to marinate, it’s still one of my favorite songs from this year.
Triston finds himself lamenting a newly-ended relationship and running through some of the memories he can’t get out of his mind, feeling “Lone Star lonely” while coming to terms with the fact that it’s really over. With plenty of that good old fashioned Texas sound we all love and lots of woozy steel guitar, it’s as sad, and as country, as they come: