The Best Country Songs of 2024 So Far

Sierra Ferrell/Cody Jinks/Zach Top/Luke Combs

We’ve run down the Best Country Albums of 2024 So Far, now it’s time to contemplate the best songs. What we’re looking for here are legitimate Song of the Year contenders. This means were not searching for the catchy ditties and toe tappers. We’re looking for songs that elicit a deep emotional response. These are songs that can change a life, change the world, or change our perspective on it.

This high bar always creates some misunderstanding and always tends to favor slower and more somber songs, but the “Singles of the Year” will also be given their due at some point. Some of these Song contenders could work as Single contenders too. With songs, the idea of what is “good” is even more subjective than with albums. So if there is a song that you had a very deep emotional connection with not included here, by all means, share it below.

But please remember that the point of this exercise is to share knowledge of great songs. Nobody is right or wrong, and this isn’t about affirming what you already believe, but sharing songs that might have a deep connection with you that you might otherwise not know about.

Joe Stamm and the Allegheny High – “The Storm”

“The Storm” is riveting story that sucks you straight into fate of the characters, making you feel the racing palpitations of a heart yearning to return home to be by a lover’s side while being dogged by nature’s fury. But it’s brought to a whole other level when Joe Stamm tests the highest reaches of his range and power, and pulls off moments most singers don’t have the guts, let alone the gifts, to fully achieve.

The song is from Joe Stamm’s four-song EP Allegheny, recorded with members of Charles Wesley Godwin’s backing band, The Allegheny High.

Zach Top – “Use Me”

The songs of Zach Top’s album Cold Beer & Country Music aren’t just reminiscent of ’90s country in sound. The writing is also emblematic of the era, and of country music in general. The songs are about love and love lost, as well as underscoring country values and wisdom.

When you arrive at the 9th track on the album, the heartbreaking waltz “Use Me,” this is when the striking voice of Zach Top, the top-shelf picking and production, as well as stellar writing align to make something that gives you the same chills all those country gold selections from the ’90s did.

“Use Me” is co-written by Zach with Tim Nichols and Carson Chamberlin.

Cody Jinks – “What You Love”

When the history books are written about the period of country music we’re living in right now, Cody Jinks will be much more than a bit player. When mapping out how independent artists rose out of the ranks of the unknowns to rival mainstream country’s biggest stars, how artists began to win back control over their music, and how quality songs that actually sound country came roaring back into popularity, Cody Jinks will be one of the primary characters in that compelling narrative.

Bolstered by piano and a lush string arrangement, “What You Love” co-written with Tennessee Jet is a full-hearted, full-throated effort by Jinks to convey what he’s learned through persevering through adversity and rising to the top. Anyone with young adults in their life will feel the power and magic in this song. It’s the perfect way to conclude Cody’s 2024 album Change The Game.

Laurie Lewis – “Trees”

Not enough is being made about the legendary career Laurie Lewis has amassed over the decades. Her fellow musicians know her as a master of folk, bluegrass, traditional country, and the space where all three of these disciplines meet. Songwriting is also one of her strong suits, and she proves this exquisitely on this a capella track that doesn’t deserve to be overlooked.

“The Trees” awakens memories of Ralph Stanley and “O Death,” but it’s the writing that captures the world from the perspective of natural history that makes the song so compelling. “The Trees” also features Hasee Ciacco, George Guthrie, and Tom Rozum on vocals.

Sierra Ferrell – “Wish You Well”

To call Sierra Ferrell a singer/songwriter almost seems like a reduction of her powers. Her music and presentation is much more imaginative and indefinable than that. But her latest album Trail of Flowers explores Sierra’s ability to craft a compelling song from her own personal experiences as opposed to the more ethereal inspirations she normally pulls from.

Where Sierra really shows off her ability to write a song is “Wish You Well.” Perhaps the hidden gem of Trail of Flowers, it conveys the truth that the easiest path to overcoming heartbreak is not revenge, avoidance, distraction, or even time, but forgiveness. It’s the poetic and compelling ways Ferrell conveys this fact that makes you actually listen and heed this adage as opposed to just hear it.

Kimmi Bitter – “I Can’t Unlove You”

Expect the chill bumps to shoot down your arms and up your spine when you hear what sounds like a ghost from the black and white era of country billowing out of your speakers to sing the heartbreaking “I Can’t Unlove You.”

You get the sense that it kind of doesn’t matter what Kimmi Bitter sings, she sings it to the rafters. Even though her music comes across as lots of style and imagery to evoke a specific era in a kind of kitschy way, this isn’t a gimmick. At this music’s heart is an incredibly gifted and emotive singer choosing to ply her craft in the classic country style, and we should count ourselves as infinitely lucky that she has.

Luke Combs – “My Old Man Was Right

Luke Combs really has done a remarkable thing with his latest album Fathers & Sons released on Father’s Day. Really, any and all of the songs from the album could be given “Song of the Year” consideration from the way they all are capable of creating a deeply emotional response, or insight can be drawn from them. It just depends which one hits you in the feels the most since the album addresses so many different seasons and aspects of fatherhood.

But since we’re talking about songwriting here, it only seems appropriate that the track that Combs co-wrote with Lori McKenna—who is a perennial contender in the “Song of the Year” field—would be the one to conclude on. And even if it wasn’t written by McKenna, “My Old Man Was Right” still might be the best of them all.

Willi Carlisle – “The Money Grows On Trees”

Similar to Willie Carlisle’s previous albums but perhaps even more so on Critterland, the instrumentation is true to folk traditions, meaning there is no drums and little electrification. An adept multi-instrumentalist himself, Carlisle knows how to use musical accompaniment to take a story to another level of intensity and immersion. Willi Carlisle’s ultimate gift is his capability to get you to lose yourself in a story.

But his new album arguably reaches its peak of storytelling when the instrumentation is stripped away entirely and Carlisle delivers his 7-minute spoken word masterpiece, “The Money Grows On Trees.” Willi might be a staunch folklorist with an old-timey vibe, but he knows how to broach topics fiercely relevant to today, especially drug issues and all the complexities they entail.

Conrad Fisher – “Cecelia”

Divorce songs play such a significant role in the history of country music. Whereas other genres often avoid the sore subject, country music addresses it straight on in some of the most cutting compositions in the genre’s history. Even if you’ve never been a party to divorce, these songs can make you feel like you have.

Tackling this classic trope in country music, but doing so with creative originality is the difficult task modern songwriters face. Conrad Fisher revels in this challenge, and contributes a song that could go into the country music canon right beside all the other classic divorce songs.

© 2024 Saving Country Music