As much as country music is about fun and living life, it is also about the ballads; ballads that will make you cry, fall in love, or heal.
If a ballad doesn’t make it to radio, it may very well go unheard by the majority of country fans. So to help shed some light on some of those songs, below is a list of some of my most underrated traditional country ballads.
The rules are simple; the song must not have been released as a single and charted well on the Billboard charts. The songs have been run through a random generator, so no specific order was used. While many artists on this list have several songs that can be added, one song has been selected from their catalog. When this list is updated, more songs by the same artists will be allowed.
So without further ado, make sure to check out the list of excellent, underrated traditional country ballads.
Wade Hayes- Family Reunion
The “No particular order” rule does not apply here. I wanted to make sure this one was on the top of the list. Such an incredibly well-written song with an excellent delivery from Hayes. Not the song you expect you will get with a song title like “Family Reunion.” Can’t think of another song that tackles this subject matter, excellent song.
Garth Brooks- Under the Table (clip unavailable)
Jake Owen- Ghosts
Brad Paisley- She Never Really Got Over Him
This is a hard one to find. Only available on the “Cracker Barrel Special Edition” of his album “Wheelhouse,” Paisley weaved together a great, heartbreaking story that has gone almost unheard.
Easton Corbin- Tulsa Texas
Red Marlow- Four Ounces at a Time
Clay Walker- Country Boy and City Girl
Curtis Grimes- Had a Thing
Billy Currington- 23 Degrees and South
A lot of the time, simpler is better. With strung back instrumentation and Currington’s emotional delivery, this song paints a great picture, and manages to make me stop and really digest it every time it comes on.
Jason Michael Carroll- Tears
Craig Campbell- When She Grows Up
Dean Brody- Flowers in Her Hands
Brody has a special way of weaving a character’s life story into three and a half minutes. There is perhaps no better example than this ballad from his “Dirt” album.
Cody Johnson- Walk Away
Joe Nichols- You Ain’t Heard Nothing Yet
Vince Gill- Under These Conditions
Mark Chesnutt- Is It Still Cheating
Rhett Akins- Same Ol’ Story
Mo Pitney- Love Her Like I Lost Her
Again, a lot of the time, simpler is better. With stripped down instrumentation and a valuable life lesson, Pitney is proving that he is one of the great young songwriters in country music.
Shelby Lee Lowe- ‘Til My Memories Run Dry
Wynn Williams- The Letter
The type of song that has been missing from country music recently. Crying steel, a heartbreaking story, and an emotional delivery. Williams hit this one out of the park.
David Kersh- As If I Didn’t Know
Little Texas- Hit Country Song
Paul Brandt- That Hurts
Scott Hisey- As Long as He’s Here
This one ranks up there with “Family Reunion” for me. The kind of song that you don’t hear very often, if at all. Hisey is a major throwback type of singer, and his baritone served this song perfectly.
Gabe Garcia- Workin’ on Her Tan
Another song with a deceiving title. While this may not look like the title of a heartbreaking country song, Garcia definitely delivers one. The narrators sense of false hope make this song hit with listeners, and Garcia delivers it perfectly.
Keith Walker- What a Broken Heart Can Do
Lee Ann Womack- Lonely Too
Sara Evans- What That Drink Cost Me
Alan Jackson- The Sounds
It was tough to narrow it down to one Alan Jackson ballad for the first list, but this song deserved much more attention than it got. Although it was featured on the second disc of Jackson’s second greatest hits album, it was never released as a single.
Ricochet- The Truth is I Lied
Chris Young- Flowers
It doesn’t get any more heartbreaking than this. A story of drunk driving, regret, and heartbreak. Although it was released by the song’s co-writer Billy Yates in 1997, Young took the song to a new level, with his emotional baritone delivery adding a new element to the song.
Rick Trevino- San Antonio Rose to You
Trent Tomlinson- That’s What’s Working Right Now
Phil Vassar- She’s On Her Way
Randall King- Mirror, Mirror
There are a few songs that could have made this list from King’s excellent, just released debut album. However, “Mirror, Mirror” is the one I gravitated towards first, and the one that has stuck with me through my multiple listens.
Mitch Rossell- Piece of Heaven (clip unavailable)
Matt Kimbrow- Dance With Me Today
Gary Allan- Don’t Tell Mama
This song is country music gold. A straight forward story song, once again about drunk driving, death, and heartbreak. This song has been recorded by a few artists, but Alan’s take, with a great melody and his raspy delivery, rise above the rest.
David Adam Byrnes- Pretty Blue View
Daryle Singletary- That’s Where You’re Wrong
Richard Marx and George Canyon- When Love is All You’ve Got
Co-written by the legendary Kenny Rogers, this song is really brought to life by the smooth vocals of Canyon, paired with Marx’s raspier delivery.
George Ducas- The Invisible Man
Donice Morace- Lost at Sea
Wesley Dennis- Leave Me a Picture of You
Tim McGraw- Kill Myself
This song title immediately jumps out at you, however, it’s not quite what it seems.
Greg Bates- Lost in Caroline
Gretchen Wilson- He Ain’t Even Cold Yet
Originally recorded by Ken Mellons in the 90s, Wilson knocked this one out of the park.
William Michael Morgan- I Know Who He Is
Rodney Atkins- The River Just Knows
Mark Wills- Anywhere But Memphis
Josh Turner- Soulmate
Lucas Barela- I’m Never Going to Be Like That
Really well-written, emotional song from a great, young artist. Barely put his heart on his sleeve, and it paid off with this one.
Jerry Kilgore- Cactus in a Coffee Can
Roger Springer Band- Daddy Never Had a Chance in Hell
Tim Culpepper- Pourin’ Whiskey on Pain
Brian Mallery- Wake Me Up Tomorrow
Teea Goans- I Don’t Do Bridges Anymore
Ashley Monroe- She’s Driving Me Out of Your Mind
Kristen Foreman- Four and a Half Minutes
Based on a true story, this song is very impressive. Great delivery and great lyrics. Learn more about the song and Kristen Foreman in our recent interview.
Deryl Dodd- She’ll Have You Back
All you need to hear is that opening line, and you know you’re in for an excellent song.
Doug Stone- This Empty House
Ricky Van Shelton- The Picture
Faith Hill- I Would Be Stronger Than That
George Strait- Haven’t You Heard
This song was never released to radio; and in the grand scheme of Strait’s excellent ballads, this one often goes overlooked.
Heartland- Built to Last
James Bonamy- Amy Jane
Diamond Rio- They Don’t Make Hearts Like They Used To
Hailey Verhaalen- The Answer
Steve Maynard- A Bad Day to Come By
Jerry Maynard- My Life Was Turned Around
Dixie Chicks- Don’t Waste Your Heart
Brad Martin- The Fifth
Martin brings his huge voice to an extremely well-written song, dripping with steel guitar and heartache. One of the standouts on this list.
Ashton Dupré- When She Drinks My Whiskey
Rhonda Vincent- When the Grass Grows Over Me
Megan Katarina- He’s Seen Me Naked
The delivery of that second chorus. Perfection.
John Hord- Cowboy Angel
John Thibodeaux- Favorite Waste of Time (video unavailable, listen on Spotify!)
Cody Sparks Band- 4th of July
Dustin Sonnier- Drinkin’ Alone
One of the really great releases of 2018. This song will be part of Sonnier’s new album, to be released this year! Get all the details here.
Jamie Talbert & the Band of Demons- Wildfire
Marisa Ray- People Change (video unavailable, listen on Spotify!)
Miranda Lambert- To Learn Her
Lambert performed this song, which was never a single, on the CMA Awards last year, and she absolutely knocked it out of the park. All that steel guitar- perfection.
Kimberly Kelly- First Fool in Line
L.M. Stone- Shattered Dreams
Close your eyes if you listen to this one and you’ll think George Jones is singing. Amazing vocalist and writer.
Lorrie Morgan- Gonna Leave the Light On
Dwight Yoakam- South of Cincinatti
Michael Peterson- Since I Thought I Knew It All
Steel Blossoms- I Don’t Wanna Love You Anymore
Anna Vaus- The Ground (clip unavailable, listen on Spotify!)
Pistol Annies- Beige
Patty Loveless- Cheap Whiskey
Kevin Denney- We Rhyme
Presley & Taylor- Old Fashion Passion
The young duo prove that there is still hope for traditional country music in this generation of country music. Great harmonies, great writing.
Craig Morgan- Everywhere I Go
Randy Travis- Reasons I Cheat
Perfect Stranger- Who Are You
Porter Union- Out of Spite
Excellent track from the duo featured on USA Network’s Real Country. The duo trading vocals on this track is cry-in-your-beer perfection.
Tim Allen- Bad Side of Me
Casey Peveto Band- Broken Heart’s Advice
Craig Gerdes- You Saved Me from Me
Kylie Frey- Ain’t Enough Beer (clip unavailable- listen on Spotify!)
Josh Card- Forgotten Love
A different ballad than anything on this list. A song that hits home for Card. Read all about Card’s new album and this song here.
Shania Twain- Raining on Our Love
Dustin Olson- Prayer of a Simple Man
Jade Marie Patek- Calling My Name
Tyler Resch- Somewhere Missing You
Melissa Lee- Mama, I Might Love Him
Raquel Telfer- Where Fallen Angels Fly
Very powerful song that took on a new meaning for Telfer after a trying time in her life. Read all about it here.
Collin Raye- Faithful Old Flame
Kyle Daigle- When a Woman’s Had Enough
Hunter Thomas Mounce- Wherever You Are
Aubrie Lynn- Good Enough Isn’t Love (video unavailable, check it out on iTunes!)
Tracy Byrd- Redneck Roses
When it’s on an album with “The Keeper of the Stars,” it’s easy to look over this equally great love song.
Tim Nowell- Willie, Waylon and Booze
Savanna Chestnut- Walls Can’t Talk
Joanna Young- Everything
Faith Hill- A Man’s Home is His Castle
What a story. Amazing lyric and amazing delivery. You NEED to check this one out.
Addison Johnson- Where I Go to Pray
Kimra- Forgive and Forget
Brooks & Dunn- A Few Good Rides Away
Vanessa Lynn Bird- Halfway There
Jamie Floyd- What I See in Me
Floyd sings straight from the heart here. Certain lyrics (such as singing for a guy who’s turning 30) hit so close to home. Learn more about the song here.
Korey Rose- A Mile and Six Feet Away
Wild Rose- If Hearts Could Talk
John Michael Montgomery- Nickels and Dimes and Love
Hunter Morse- Teach Me to Forget (clip unavailable, listen on Spotify!)
Dolly Parton- I Will Forever Hate Roses
Preview/listen these songs on Spotify
*Some songs could not be added by YouTube link or to Spotify because they were not available on those platforms.