I've noticed an ever so slight change in sound from the music that's been released in 2016. There are songs that have hit the Top 10 and Top 20 that I don't think would have in years past.

While I sit here and hope that's a good sign and bodes well for the country music industry, I'll also run down my 10 favorite songs of 2016:

10. "Make You Mine" by High Valley

The pop, rock, and folk music world borrowed this sound and called it theirs for a bit of time. Now, we want it back.

9. "Somebody Else Will" by Justin Moore

I've always like Justin's neo-traditional approach, but he tweaks it on this inner monologue about not missing an opportunity and comes up with a sound I've never heard from him before. I'm diggin' it.

8. "Parachute" by Chris Stapleton

I was pretty sure I got it right away, then I wasn't so sure, then I thought "That HAS to be what it's about," then again, maybe it's not. But here's the deal. Stapleton's singing it, so I'm convinced. Of WHAT, I'm not sure, but I'm convinced.

7. "Settin' the World on Fire" by Kenny Chesney feat. Pink

Like Randy Newman in the 80s, Kenny LOVES L.A. but not, apparently, in the way Newman did. Kenny's a fan of a certain frame of mind or, maybe, a feeling--cool and risky--he gets from the City of Angels. Pink sure seems to agree.

6. "Mayday" by Cam

This northern Californian likes to take musical risks. They paid off big time last year with her million-selling #1 smash "Burning House," but not so much with its follow-up. While this startling sequel didn't quite take, it makes me wonder what will happen when Cam DOESN'T stress out over a current relationship.

5. "Dirt on My Boots" by Jon Pardi

I've been looking toward the horizon for the return of traditional country music, or at the very least the new millennium's version of it. I see a few artists riding this way, but Jon Pardi is out in front. Lyrically and sonically, this is such a grand slam home run. Love this sound!

4. "Better Man" by Little Big Town

I didn't like this at first, but the more I listened and the more I let lead vocalist Karen Fairchild tell the story in a way that only SHE can, I completely understood that this is a difficult feeling to express. It's a particularly complex sentiment produced immaculately and is easily the best thing Taylor Swift has ever written.

3. "Woke Up in Nashville" by Seth Ennis

This one slid in under the wire and if you haven't heard it yet, I won't be surprised. Ennis is a 23 year old singer/songwriter from Valdosta, Georgia with a real knack for that thing which I love most about country music--the twisty play on words. Listen and you'll know right away that this really doesn't have anything to do with sleeping. So clever.

2. "My Church" by Maren Morris

She's the revelation--AND the revolution--of 2016 whose scintillating debut single heaps praise on the music she loves. It's the music, in fact, they stopped making long before she was even born. I've listened to her debut album Hero and I'm pretty sure she can change that.

1. "Record Year" by Eric Church

He's my favorite country artist of the current collection. But that also means he's one of my all-time favorite country artists. Church always pulls me in because he thinks unlike any of his contemporaries. Last year, it was that amazing story "Talladega." This year it's a big thank you to someone who dumped him because it gave him a chance to reconnect with the beloved vinyl he'd long since set aside. Just great songwriting from a great artist.