Billy Strings disproves that age-old adage that youth is wasted on the young.
Barely 30 years old, he already boasts a highly acclaimed career that includes a Grammy, an IBMA Momentum Award, various chart-topping albums, critical kudos and a remarkable reputation as one of today’s best pickers and players.
Here is Holler's list of Billy Strings' best songs:
Surprisingly quirky in comparison to any usual Strings selection, this is an animated offering, highlighted by banjo, fiddle and harp providing the primary instrumentation.
Its chanting refrain brings to mind an old work song, albeit a most spirited example.
The title track of his 2019 album, ‘Home’ is a decidedly different Strings song, one with a haunting, harrowing and vaguely psychedelic sound.
It’s exotic by Strings’ standards and yet strangely compelling all at the same time. It also shows that variety and versatility find room within his wheelhouse.
Strings pays homage to the heartland homilies that inspired him early on and that continue to play a key role in his musical mantra.
Its easy sway and humble demeanor add to the tender trappings, making for a back-porch ballad that could easily have been borne from an earlier era.
Another track from Home, this song finds Strings in a sweetly sentimental mood, sharing a tender tone that manages to morph from reflection to revelry.
His mandolin break seals the deal, and when fiddle joins the fray, it results in an uplifting attitude that resonates overall.
This touching track reflects the timeless journey that’s often taken when one endeavors to find their way in the world.
Like most of the songs Strings recorded in his formative years, it shows a marked maturity through a singular passion and purpose.
"A mean old world I’m leaving / Even though I have nowhere to go". Strings sings on this Renewal cut, reflecting on hopes and aspirations that manage to remain intact despite obstacles and distractions that are tossed his way.
While his disappointment is never in doubt, it’s ultimately about finding optimism, even when the odds against it appear otherwise.
Taken from 2022's Me/and/Dad, this song comes courtesy of Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, while sizing up the homespun sentiment that inspired the album overall.
In that regard, it sums up the duo’s shared sentiments adroitly and offers reason to acknowledge Strings elevated stature within bluegrass’ both past and present.
Strings’ appreciation for singular standards was never more apparent than when he and Don Julian tackled this Jimmie Rogers chestnut on their aptly titled duo album Fiddle Tune X.
Recorded at a house concert in Brooklyn, the emotion and engagement is evident in these intimate environs.
The opening offering from the album Turmoil and Tinfoil, ‘On the Line’ finds Strings flush with a cool confidence.
This rousing number leaves no doubt that even this early in his still-budding career, he was ready to assume his role as one of Americana’s most promising and prominent voices.
This track became a stand-alone single. Sung from a decidedly personal perspective, it finds Strings sharing some stoic sentiment while reflecting on the woman who’s illuminated his life and, as a result, inspired his to give her full devotion and dedication.
Strings slows the pace (albeit briefly) to substitute focus for frenzy, courtesy of a thoughtful ballad marked by deep determination.
The rich arrangements underscore the song’s effusive emotion, resulting not only in one of Strings’ most fully realized releases, but easily one of his most affecting efforts overall.
A track from 2022's Me/And/Dad, 'Way Downtown' finds Strings and his adoptive dad Terry Barber offering a decidedly down-home duet with affection and authenticity.
Rich and robust, it conveys the flavor of Appalachia in every note and nuance. Indeed, it soars on the strength of its drive and dexterity.
A traditional bluegrass tune recorded with Barber, ‘Long Journey Home’ offers an astute example of instrumental acumen plied with both flash and finesse.
Here again, Strings picks from the past while moving forward towards the future.
Strings plays mandolin while Del McCoury provides accompaniment on harmonies and guitar, as the duo share a heartfelt ballad basking in true bluegrass tradition.
It’s yet another excellent example of how timeless tradition transcends age and experience when plied by two capable and credible players.
Named Song of the Year at the 2022 International Bluegrass Music Awards ceremonies — where Strings was proclaimed Entertainer of the Year as well — ‘Red Daisy’ offers an example of rapid-fire revelry in a full celebratory stance.
Strings’ assured performance would likely make Doc, Lester, Earl and all his other distinguished forebears profoundly proud.
Listen and subscribe to Holler's The Best Billy Strings Songs playlist below: