The process of choosing a single for radio is often as arduous a task as writing the song. Each month, Sounds Like Nashville will feature a different artist and explore songs from his or her catalogue that we wish made it to radio. Make no mistake, this is no critique of the artist or label, it’s simply a list of songs we love so much that we think deserve to be in the spotlight. This month, we take a closer listen to Luke Bryan’s back catalogue and find eight gems that warrant airplay.
“First Love Song” – from I’ll Stay Me
Written by Bryan and producer Jeff Stevens, “First Love Song” has the singer falling in love for the first time while listening to the radio as he drives around town with his girl. The soaring ballad includes delicate fiddle and pedal steel accompaniment and highlights Bryan’s smooth vocals. “Baby I’m not who I was / You gave me your love and it woke me up, made me more aware,” he sings on the sentimental track.
“What Country Is” – from Doin’ My Thing
There is no denying that Bryan is a country boy at heart and the Georgia native sings all about it on “What Country Is.” The song is filled with countless references of a country upbringing like sweet tea, homemade peach ice cream, fishing for Catfish and late night bonfires. “No it can’t be bought, it’s something you’re born with,” Bryan croons. A song he sings with confidence, while Bryan didn’t pen the track it’s evident he lived every lyric.
“Every Time I See You” – from Doin’ My Thing
While it’s hard to imagine Bryan ever getting dumped, he evokes a heartbroken man on “Every Time I See You.” Portraying someone struggling after a breakup, he sings of the difficult time he has each time he sees his former flame. Despite trying his best to hold himself together, he finds himself unglued when he runs into his girl. It’s a song many can relate to and Bryan sings each line with conviction.
“Too Damn Young” – from tailgates & tanlines
Bryan is well known for his party songs, but his nostalgic ballads also leave a lasting mark on the listener. On “Too Damn Young,” Bryan reminisces of his youth where he and a girl would sneak out of their homes after curfew and head to the water. “She kissed me like she meant forever / We were too damn young to know any better,” he sings.
“Beer In the Headlights” – from Crash My Party
Long before Cole Swindell had countless No. 1 hits of his own, he was a budding songwriter and merch guy for Bryan. Early cuts include “Beer In the Headlights” off Bryan’s 2014 Crash My Party album, which he penned with Michael Carter and Brandon Kinney. The radio friendly jam has Bryan singing of a truck parked in the middle of nowhere as a girl dances along to the radio with a beer in hand. The hooky chorus and infectious beats make this a song worth cranking up.
“Dirt Road Diary” – from Crash My Party
There are plenty of country songs about dirt roads, but Bryan manages to make “Dirt Road Diary” unique. Written with frequent collaborators the Peach Pickers, made up of Rhett Akins, Dallas Davidson and Ben Hayslip, Bryan puts himself in the song through tales of his youth. The believable lyrics are as if he’s reading his diary aloud and the song’s imagery puts the listener right there with him.
“Razor Blade” – from Kill The Lights
A haunting musical introduction sets up the song about a girl who will leave her spell upon a man long after she’s gone. “You can’t escape it if you wanted to / You don’t know what you got yourself into,” Bryan croons. “She won’t cut you with a knife / That little look in her eyes will cut you like a razor blade.” A song full of vivid imagery, “Razor Blade” showcases the more serious side of Bryan.
“To the Moon and Back” – from Kill The Lights
This sweet ballad of a forever kind of love shows Bryan’s depth as an artist. Written by Tom Douglas, Hillary Lindsey and Tony Lane, “To the Moon and Back” could very well serve as a couple’s wedding song with beautiful metaphors of roads traveled and the ups and downs of life. “Until our song is over / Til the stars all fade to black / I’m gonna love you / To the ends of the Earth / To the moon and back,” he sings.