American Songwriter, CMT Give Summer a Soundtrack

With summer nearly here, the timing seems right for a new music playlist. Beach trips, windows-down sunset cruises and tailgate campfire parties will all need backing tracks, after all. Sadly, though, I’ve never been much good at making a sampler of my favorites. Too scatterbrained, I guess. So it’s lucky for music lovers who share my curious affliction that American Songwriter and CMT have done the hard work for us and made one available for a limited-time-only free download.

The Country Way Digital Sampler Vol. 2 is 31 tracks chosen by the knowledgeable American Songwriter staff, ranging from indie darlings like Caitlin Rose and Justin Townes Earle to those just now breaking into the mainstream like Hayes Carll and Sunny Sweeney. Along the way, you’ll hear from legends like Charlie Louvin and Marty Stuart and get introduced to exciting new acts like the Apache Relay and Middle Brother. You’ll look like a music listener with your finger on the pulse of what’s next, since most of these tracks haven’t made it to radio yet. But I’m just happy I won’t have suffer through the awkward track-skipping that usually follows my deejaying.

Here’s a preview of a few standouts:

Hayes Carll — “Stomp & Holler”
Since it’s a little more reckless and a little more confident than most, it’s the perfect track to energize a party. With a toe-tapping beat and smart storyline, Carll figures there’s at least one thing that everybody’s looking for, no matter their differences. And that’s a good time.

Miss Willie Brown — “Couyon Crazy”
Mixing harmonies reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac and the high energy of Jason Aldean, Miss Willie Brown are anything but boring. And opening shows for Dierks Bentley has been introducing the sassy duo to new fans across the country, so you might impress some friends by being the first to get onboard with this one.

Walker Hayes — “Why Wait for Summer”
Technically, it’s not summer yet, but even if it was, this sunny track would still work. About escaping the everyday and “pointing the truck towards Pensacola,” Hayes will have you grooving all the way down the highway.

Randy Montana — “1,000 Faces”
Can’t have a playlist without at least one sugary-sweet love song, and this one takes the cake (zing!). Montana recognizes that love comes in all forms, but for him, there’s only one image that comes to mind. The hook comes when you figure out where that image stems from. Save this one until the end of the night, and scoot a little closer to your honey when it comes on.

Writer/producer for and CMT Edge. He's been to Georgia on a fast train. He wasn't born no yesterday.