Thomas Rhett’s journey through Country’s upper echelons feels as cyclical as the donuts that he’d spin in his beloved old truck as a teenager.
After emerging with a rough-around-the-edges, traditional sound in the mold of his father, Rhett Akins, the younger Rhett then found radio success through a striking one-two of infectious, uptempo Pop and warm, heartfelt ballads. In the last couple of years, Rhett has become ‘Country Again’ and is leaning back into his original, down-home songwriting style, with a rugged, heavily hirsute aesthetic and a Bass Pro Shops hat to match.
Here is Holler's list of 15 of the best Thomas Rhett songs.
Rhett affectionately looks back at this early single as somewhat of a chart ‘flop’, but even so, this slow-burning, faith-fueled musing on what it would be like to have a cold beer conversation with Jesus crackles with a soft, alluring glow. It doesn’t succumb to the temptation to try and perform any sharp block gear changes and inject some unnatural pace, and instead rumbles happily along over a gentle acoustic guitar.
Consisting almost entirely of references to classic tracks by Country icons both old and new, this is a Country aficionado’s dream. Pivoting around an energizing electric guitar lick, Rhett’s smooth vocals weave seamlessly through lyrics paying tribute to the likes of Strait (“Do your exes live in Texas?”), Carter (“Who’s your strawberry wine?”) and even Rhett’s dad (“Are you heartbroke 'cause you know / That ain't your truck in her drive?”).
While Rhett is hard to beat when it comes to composing tender, heart-warming ballads, he also has a knack for delivering carefree celebrations of small-town livin’. Anchored in slick production, the energy of the hook’s quick-fire, cascading lyrics ripple through the rest of the track like a bayou that you’d find Rhett fishing in while donning his own ‘Bass Pro Hat’.
The song that established Rhett as Country’s number-one lover-boy, ‘Die A Happy Man’ finds him reeling through all the bucket-list experiences that he no longer feels the need to see (“Oh, if all I got is your hand in my hand / Baby, I could die a happy man”). His drawn-in, unguarded and endearing songwriting follows all the rules in the Ed Sheeran blueprint, but Rhett’s personality is laced into each line, making this anything but generic.
Whether he’s penning Pop hits or writing backroad anthems, the jewel in Rhett’s crown is undoubtedly his unrelenting lyrical honesty. The buoyant, half-rapped ‘Life Changes’ epitomizes this, chronicling (often in eyebrow-raising detail) Rhett’s story to date.
As well as paying homage to classic Country lyrics, Rhett isn’t afraid to direct a tongue-in-cheek nod towards one of his own (“She got a blue check mark by her Instagram / And I wrote a little song about holding her hand and now everybody wanna die a happy man”).
Armed with an all-star list of features, this was one of the earliest songs to break triumphantly through the murky surface of the pandemic. It’s an uplifting, hope-filled anthem that flips negative images into vibrant, full-color inversions with timely lyrics that spoke - and continue to speak - to the times (“In a time full of war, be peace” and “In a race you can win, slow it down”).
A quintessentially Country spin on an otherwise innocuous title, Rhett outlines his love interest’s in-depth plans for her dream wedding. Just when you start to think this is heading for a happy ending that would stick to the bright-eyed, optimistic script that usually underpins Rhett’s music, he instead knocks you out with the heartbreaking punchline - “Yeah, she wanna get married / But she don't wanna marry me.” We’re not crying, you are.
The opening instrumental sends a buzz of energy fizzling through the speakers, and from there on out it continues to ascend into an upbeat, foot-stomping anthem. This song finds Rhett settling into his trademark sweet-spot between the charming, reflective romantic and the light-hearted, dad-dancing party-starter.
In many ways, nostalgia is the currency with which Thomas Rhett trades most effectively. ‘That Old Truck’ revolves around his treasured F-150, and all the memories that attached themselves to his Ford over the years. It’s relatable for anyone who feels a special bond with their first car, whether it was a Chevy Silverado or a Fiat 500. Rhett closes out the ruminative chorus with his philosophical conclusion, “I learned just who I wasn't and who I was/In that old truck.”
Rhett has been open about the fact that his wife, Lauren - with the “blue check mark by her Instagram” - has never been comfortable in the spotlight. This song is a touching ode to her support of Rhett’s musical ambition, despite all the unique challenges this lifestyle brings. Rhett infuses such personality to lyrics like “Half of our nights baby, we spend 'em sleeping alone / ’I gotta go’ conversations and raising our kids through the phone”, that it almost feels as though the listener is eavesdropping.
Written about a close friend’s passing, Rhett spends this track wondering what he’s been getting up to in heaven. It’s deeply moving, and again, the specificity that Rhett brings into the song gives it the feel of a genuine conversation (“They still ain't paved that road on lower Lickton Pike/I still look for your truck sometimes at Sonic on Friday night.”).
With ‘Remember You Young’, Rhett hangs his hat alongside stellar, life-passing-before-your-very-eyes Country tracks such as Kenny Chesney’s ‘Don’t Blink’, Trace Adkins’ ‘You’re Gonna Miss This’ and, more recently, Jordan Davis’ ‘Next Thing You Know’. Rhett ponders the fact that, no matter how grown-up and straight-laced his old college buddies, his wife or his daughters become, he’ll always think of them with the playful gleam of youth.
Based on a real-life visit to Death Row with songwriting pals Tyler Hubbard and Russell Dickerson, this song is spiritually-charged and heart-rending. From the moment Rhett throws out the lines, “I thought that he would be a monster/It turns out he's a whole lot like I am”, it’s clear that he hasn’t lost his willingness to expand his lyrical boundaries and explore new ground.
For anyone still torturing themselves over the fine print of what it really means to be ‘Country’, this song serves as a pretty solid summary. After a number of years blurring the lines between Pop, R&B and Country, this title track from his 2021 project served as the first signal that Rhett was ‘coming home’ to his Country roots. You can almost hear his sigh of relief as he casually croons the main refrain: “Man, it feels good to be Country again”.
This plays like a misty highway that runs right between the city and the sticks. Rhett and Ballerini trade layered and irresistibly atmospheric vocals as they look back fondly on their youth, while a simple piano slowly bleeds into ambient, electronic production with bold, jarring drums. Both sonically and lyrically, it perfectly captures Rhett’s successful balancing act between staying true to his Country roots, while at the same time embracing his more adventurous cross-genre impulses.
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