"Here in Eden" by Charles Wesley Godwin
For my favorite song of the year thus far, I have to turn toward Charles Wesley Godwin’s Seneca for an answer. At first, my favorites shifted between “Windmill (Keep On Turning)” and “Seneca Creek,” both for the instrumental tones and storytelling, respectively. As of now, my favorite is actually “Here In Eden,” the closing track on the album. To me, this track not only connects the thematic arc of the album, but also showcases just how much this land means to Godwin. His tone is reverent, but also stern toward those who choose to not take it seriously. This moody, minor acoustic closer has slowly grown to become my favorite song of the year thus far.
by Zackary Kephart of The Musical Divide
"Ghost in Every Town" by Emily Scott Robinson
Emily Scott Robinson's debut album Traveling Mercies is full of moments that cut to the heart, but no song hit me quite like "Ghost in Every Town." This is a song of simplicity and unflinching honesty, never using particularly deep language or clever metaphors, but simply painting the stark portrait of life for so many forgotten people all over the country and the world. It tells a harsh truth, but this is the beauty of a great song, to illustrate the human condition in words and melodies, in that special way only music can.
by Megan Bledsoe of Country Exclusive
"Father" by Robert Ellis
My favorite song of 2019 has been "Father" by Robert Ellis. Oftentimes it amazes me how a song that I don't necessarily relate to on a personal level can hit me so hard. "Father" is an example of masterful storytelling, truly putting you in the place and time of the interaction with his estranged father. The narrator learns of his father's address from a cousin and goes to ask his father all sorts of questions. Why did he leave, what was his mother like when they were together and simple things like did his father bite his lip like he did when he was thinking. What he really wanted growing up was a father but now he would settle for just knowing the man and being his friend. The narrator is in no way judgmental of his father and is very understanding though we never hear from the father. There were a few songs that I considered for best song so far but, "Father" is the clear winner for me.
by Grant Ludmer of Critically Country
"Seneca Creek" by Charles Wesley Godwin
In the last half decade we’ve seen names of singer-songwriters come out of nowhere to capture the interest of country music fans on the outskirts of mainstream – names like Sturgill Simpson, Colter Wall and Tyler Childers. The name that’s turning heads in 2019 has been Charles Wesley Godwin with his debut Seneca. My favorite song of the first quarter of 2019 has been “Seneca Creek” from this album. The song, which tells the story of an at least half-century long Appalachian relationship from start-to-finish, with hardships (surviving war service, hard winters, floods, sickness) and all. It’s not your typical Hollywood fairytale, but it’s the kind of fairytale many down home Americans hope for. Godwin’s entire album gets this Appalachian feel – in both lyrics and sound – down perfectly as it’s truly what’s in his blood as a West Virginian. There are two versions of “Seneca Creek” on Godwin’s debut album – a fully fledged performance with a group of musicians and an acoustic track tacked on at the album’s end that’s just Godwin’s voice and guitar. It’s the acoustic version I’m drawn to more as it truly pulls this beautiful story out more.
by Julian Spivey of The Word
"Blue," "Hot House" and "Stones" by Ryan Bingham
Rather than pick a *single* song here, I feel like I have to include a trilogy of songs from Ryan Bingham’s American Love Song. Back-to-back-to-back, they are “Blue,” “Hot House” and “Stones.” I wasn’t disappointed with Bingham’s latest release; I was just a little underwhelmed with how long it ran at times. Basically, the low moments held the album back, but the high moments were just another example of Bingham’s work as one of the greatest modern songwriters in music. I’m hesitant to call the album Bingham’s Exile on Main Street considering it’s my favorite Stones’ album, and American Love Song rates near the bottom of my favorite Bingham albums, but the comparison does have its merits. The three songs I mentioned, however, fit together so nicely. “Blue” and “Stones” are classic Bingham songs coming from the deepest part of the heart while “Hot House” is more of a blues rocker that nonetheless explores a serious story. “Blue” finds Bingham tackling a relationship with his trademark spin; he never resorts to typical heartbreak themes. But “Stones” is the pièce de résistance of the album. It’s a something I’d hold up next to other Bingham songs like “Ever Wonder Why” or “Hallelujah” as some of his best material. “Stones” once again finds Bingham exploring some of the deepest questions of the human condition. If anything, “Blue,” “Hot House” and “Stones” further solidified Bingham’s reputation as a brilliant songwriter and one of the best artists of this generation.
by Nathan Kanuch of Shore2Shore Country