After announcing the recording of his upcoming album on Instagram, it’s a perfect time to look back at the best tracks from Zach Bryan‘s first three albums. Though his EPs, Quiet, Heavy Dreams and Summertime Blues both contain fantastic tracks throughout, this ranking will only list tracks from his albums.
Here are my top five tracks from each full-length album from Bryan.
Snow quickly became a favorite for both Bryan and his fans, being played at nearly every concert. It’s no surprise why the song is so popular amongst fans. The track is an absolute beautiful one, likening his lover to an angel who takes away his sin. Bryan playing the song in the snow at Red Rocks went fairly viral with fans posting videos of the snow falling down while he performed the song.
4. Sweet DeAnn
One of the most emotionally-resonant songs throughout his deep discography, Sweet Deann is a gut-wrenching tribute to his late mother, DeAnn. The gut punch comes in the bridge when he sings, “But I don’t want the stage. I don’t want the girls. I want back the days you were breathin’ in this world.”
The song that started Bryan’s rise to fame still hits as hard on the 100th listen as it did on the first. Whether it’s the raw, sweaty version on Youtube or the slightly more polished version on the album, you can’t help but appreciate Bryan’s lyrical ability. It’s a classic self-critical and doleful track from Bryan that reflects on the sense of abandonment he’s felt throughout his life.
In one of the most hopeful tracks on the album, Bryan fantasizes about an ideal relationship. He dreams of “moving at God speed” where only God and his mother know what he needs. It’s this hopeful dreaming that resonated with many listeners and overall gave DeAnn some much-needed levity.
1. Letting Someone Go
Letting Someone Go is still one of the most impressive and depressing songs Bryan’s written to this day. From the reminiscing of the good times, to the pleading for a second try, to the eventual letting go, Bryan perfectly captures all of the emotions felt while going through a breakup. The final line of the chorus is the final blow in this sadboy country staple, “Nothing kills you slower than letting someone go.”
Much like Snow, Mine is a break from the typical self-critical side of Bryan. Here, he shows his romantic side once again expressing the powerful nature of love. From the opening line, “There’s a fire burnin in the basement that I’ll only stoke for you. Freeze my whole life if you felt warmth all the whole way through.”, the poetic nature of Bryan’s lyrics are felt.
Leaving is another extremely vulnerable track from Bryan, revealing his battles with anger, depression and abandonment issues. In the brutally honest chorus, he sings, “And I wish I could explain how the toxins in my brain get me so damn down, that sometimes I can’t speak. And you’ll try to understand why I can’t be a better man, but it’s hard when I’m yelling at you in the street.” It’s the brutal honesty and willingness to make him look like the bad guy in his songs that add an extra layer of relatability and vulnerability in tracks such as Leaving.
3. Washington Lilacs
Being one of the more overlooked songs in his discography, Washington Lilacs is one of the more simple, straightforward tracks that Bryan has to offer lyrically. That being said, however, there’s a beauty to the simplicity of the song. It’s a sweet one comparing his muse’s beauty to Washington lilacs. The simple nature of an image of lilacs swaying in a Washington breeze pair expertly with his lyrics here. The harmonies present in the vocals are also gorgeous.
Admittedly, the studio version of Revival is a solid song that doesn’t stand out in comparison to his many other incredible tracks. That being said, if you ever get the pleasure to see Bryan live, this song takes on an entirely new life when played on the road. The extended, over 10-minute version that he plays to close every show is simply incredible. The extended version recorded at Red Rocks is the closest thing you can get to experiencing the song in all of its glory at home.
Primarily backed by some gorgeous finger-picking from Bryan, Loom is another longing, heartfelt song about letting a lost love go. Interestingly, unlike Letting Someone Go, Loom feels much more hopeful despite its subject matter. In fact, Loom almost serves as a follow-up to the aforementioned track. It shows growth from Bryan both as a person and a lyricist, showing how he’s willing to let someone go even if it kills him inside. It’s heart-wrenching and somehow walks the line between hope and despair.
5. Billy Stay
Billy Stay showcases Bryan’s incredible ability to switch between points of view flawlessly. Arguably his saddest song to date, it tells a story of a husband battling Alzheimer’s from the point of view of his wife. The tear-jerking moment comes in the bridge when Bryan chokes out, ” ”Cause love turns to loss as the time goes by. You don’t know your own name but you know mine.” Those lyrics don’t really need an explanation for why they’re so powerful and gut-wrenching; Billy Stay is a masterfully crafted song through and through.
4. ’68 Fastback
’68 Fastback is one of those songs that begs you to listen to it multiple times to fully digest the lyrics. The track, once again, shows his ability to write powerful, metaphorical tracks that cut deep. The entire song is built around the metaphor that Bryan, himself, is the ‘68 Fastback; a broken-down car ruined by his previous lover. It’s Bryan’s ability to write with extended metaphors that truly makes him stand out.
3. The Good I’ll Do
The recently certified gold track is gorgeous both lyrically and sonically. The song predominantly features an expertly mixed violin that gives the song an extra flair sonically. Bryan uses the verses to paint scenes of his lover with extreme detail and strong imagery. Once the chorus kicks in, he uses his underrated falsetto to sing, “Well in you, the good I’ll do.” The simplicity of the chorus serves as an excellent juxtaposition to the complex and imagery-heavy verses. The simple act of telling someone that they’re the reason you want to do good in the world is such a romantic, heartfelt one.
2. Half Grown
Here, Bryan takes aim at his upbringing and the sins of his family. The song is incredibly well-written and thought-provoking and it’s genuinely hard to pinpoint which lyric is the best one throughout the track. “Sometimes a woman is the sum of all the things her father ain’t.”, “You can’t expect a harvest where the field’s half grown.” and “But I’ll raise myself a family and right the wrong of some imperfect people who were only half grown.” are all some of the most thought-provoking and beautiful pieces of writing in any country song, let alone the same one.
1. Sun to Me
Sun to Me may be his best love song to date, In fact, the third verse is still the best thing Bryan has written so far in my opinion. He sings, “And I remember being younger and my mother told me the truth, ‘Find someone who grows flowers in the darkest parts of you.’ ‘Take heed when things get hard and don’t you ever turn around. You’ll find someone, someday, somewhere that grows you to the clouds.“
Honorable Mentions: Something in the Orange, Heavy Eyes, Morning Time
Listen to Letting Someone Go, Loom and Sun to Me here: