Americana Highways

Editor’s Pick: Road Trip Earworms 2021

Lists & Polls Reviews

Road Trip Earworms 2021 — Favorite Songs of 2021

It’s important to honor the concept of the unified overall album, but sometimes you just need that hooky, mixed tape playlist, especially for a road trip on the Americana Highways.

There’s a playlist at the bottom; play it on shuffle!  If you have a couple hours coming up I invite you to let it entertain you.  

Click here if you’d like to see my top dozen favorite albums of 2021: Editor’s Pick: Favorite Albums of 2021

Click anywhere in bold for more info.  I’d love it if you would share your own list in the comments section!  Or vote for your own favorite album here:  Vote For Favorite Album of 2021

And my top favorite songs this year: 

Drayton Farley:  “Higher Than the Vulcan.”  There’s so much beauty here.  Amazing. I hope for Drayton Farley to find his way into the hearts of quality music fans worldwide. 

Todd Snider: “Battle Hymn of the Album.”  Todd nailed so much in this one song.  Injustice, funk, lyricism and reality.  “You can’t stop this resistance.  Nowhere to go now but the distance.” 

Malcolm Holcombe: “Higher Ground.”  This one’ll hold you down to face some darkness and then take you to heady heights and you won’t know what happened.  Try it. 

Allison Russell: “Nightflyer” Such a pretty song. Just wonderful, shiny, and bright. 

Amythyst Kiah: “Black Myself.” This song has a grounded permanence in the collective unconscious. 

Sunny War: “Kiss A Loser.”  Lamenting her own worth in relationships with her coolest of the chill songwriting styles, once again Sunny War nails it. 

Jesse Terry: “When We Wander” A song full of pretty imagery and the best kind of Americana music. 

James McMurtry: “Canola Fields.” “Take my hand, Marie.  Take a death grip on some part of me.  Keep me from drifting far out to sea or I’ll be lost out there.”  This whole album is exceptional.   

Julian Taylor:  “100 Proof.”  This man is going places and soon, with his quality musical arrangements and complex songwriting. 

Grace Pettis: “Paper Boat.” Such fluidity, and beautiful nostalgia for personal growth wrapped up in a song. 

Nathan Bell (with Patty Griffin); “American Gun.” Let the dark somber song hold you down and then lift you to the soaring heights on its refrain. 

Jason Eady “Nothing On You.”  His songwriting is luminous and heartfelt.  

Mala Oreen: “Ragged Queen.”  This song has a western/celtic blended feel and her voice is like the wind — undeniable. 

Tom Mackell:  “Gone.”  This song about a boy losing his mom at 24 wraps itself around your heart. 

Sean Rowe:  “I Won’t Run.”  Among this year’s love songs, this one is the top.  “Don’t you go thinking that I was ever lying … I won’t break your heart and I won’t run.” Thank you Sean. 

Nathaniel Rateliff:  “The Future.”  This fabulous song is running after Dylan’s style. Everything Rateliff does is wonderful, and this year’s project is no exception. 

Ana Egge: “Wait a Minute.”  Horns haunt this somber significant song with a beautiful chorus and a jaunty vibe. 

Anna Tivel:  “Two Dark Horses.”  Superior lyrics, emotive piano, and that otherworldly Tivel vocal tone mark this sweet harbinger of next year’s album. 

Emily Duff: “Done and Done.” Serious rootsy rock swagger in an extremely relatable breakup song.

Cedric Burnside: “Step In” is a thoughtful song with the Burnside groove.   

John R. Miller “Borrowed Time.”  This is a richly layered arrangement and conscious lyricism. 

Evan Bartels: “Nights I Can’t Love You.” An honest song full of the raw pain of breakup. 

Ryan Adams: “Birmingham.”  This is a pretty song, from a really pretty album.

Son Volt: “Reverie.”  This song will send the Jar Farrar vocal shivers down your spine like 

Adia Victoria: “Magnolia Blues.”  She has an ethereal vocal delivery and chilly, funky, musical expressions.

Doug Hoekstra: “Outside Looking In.”  Thoughtful and intelligent observations from the mundane perspectives of a baseball scorebox. 

Tim Easton: “You Don’t Really Know Me.” A relatable sentiment from Easton and his album that showcases his style that’s becoming more Dylanesque. 

Terry Klein: “A Year Gone to the Dogs.”  “I woke up with a start sure it was a devil in the dark outside my door.”  This songwriter needs to be on your short list of favorites. 

Mercy Bell: “Golden Child.”  “Plan B and a Gatorade, another Walgreens on a Sunday.”  Mercy Bell’s songs hit home like nobody else’s. Go girl. 

Margo Cilker: “Tehachapi.”  This songwriter is poised for something greater still to come, and soon.  This song is both relatable and brings in a brand new story. 

Tiffany Williams, Darrell Scott.  “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive.”  This is an excellent song and a superb music arrangement and beat — there’s something otherworldly about her, and the drums are excellent.  She put out an EP this year, but we need even more, and soon.

Legendary Shack Shakers: “Tickle Your Innards.”  JD Wilkes is an instinctive entertainer who invariably writes songs that are chanelled straight out of bygone eras.  Hilarious but also excellent. 




Road Trip Earworms 2021

Road Trip Earworms 2021

Road Trip Earworms 2021




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