In 2016, Drake White released his major-label debut, Spark, a warm, intimate collection of songs that showcased his freestyle fusion of heartland rock and soulful country. Three years later, his story took a dramatic turn when he collapsed on stage during a performance in Roanoke, Virginia. He was later diagnosed with arteriovenous malformation, a rare vascular disorder that left him temporarily paralyzed. By 2020, he’d re-learned how to walk, only for Covid to come along and derail his plans once again. But with a new album about to drop, it looks like things are finally going his way. Here’s our pick of the 10 best Drake White songs of all time.
10. Luckiest Man
Drake’s first new release after his 2019 health scare was Stars, a tight, laser-focused 5 track EP released in April 2020. Considering everything he’d been through the previous year, White would have been forgiven for digging into darker material, but instead, he came up with a setlist bursting with shiny optimism and positive energy. One of its most charming moments is Luckiest Man, a song that, despite not being penned by Drake, is sung as an ode to his wife, who he’s credited with putting him on the road to recovery following his diagnosis.
9. All Would Be Right With The World
Of all the songs on Stars, few pack quite such a poignant punch as All Would Be Right With The World, a longing for simple pleasures (mosquitos that never bite, but fish that always do, tickets to see Hank, George and Merle, boat rides and firesides, and a golden retriever that lives to be a hundred) that could easily have veered into sentimentality in the hands of a lesser artist, but which strikes just the right balance in White’s more than capable hands.
8. My Favorite Band
White, who describes his music as “country rockin’ freestyle blues,” has cited some of his biggest influences as Ray Charles, Merle Haggard, Bob Dylan, and Willie Nelson, several of whom get a shout out on this upbeat confection from the excellent Stars EP. As thinkcountrymusic.com notes, the song is a roll call of musical greats with Cash, Dylan, Springsteen, and numerous others all getting a mention. The twist in the tale is that his favorite band is the wedding ring on his wife’s finger. The sentiment might be a little bit cheesy, but it’s sung with too much warm sincerity to descend into a corn-fest.
7. Angel Side Of You
White’s brand of country is laced with sweet southern soul, something his song choices milk to full effect. On Angel Side of You, his soulful vocals are allowed to take center stage, gliding over a background of strings and guitars in a way that’s guaranteed to make your soul soar. Speaking at the time of the song’s release in 2021, White revealed: “This song symbolizes the spiritual side of this life for me. I could not have made it through the challenges of the last few years without my wife, my family, my friends, and my fans praying for me. I believe in the power of prayer and that everyone has an angel side.”
6. The Simple Life
The Simple Life is a heartfelt plea that encourages people to avoid the distractions of modern life and remember the simple pleasures of home, family, and friends. Released as White’s first-ever single in 2013, it made it to number 36 on the US Country Airplay chart.
5. Mix ‘Em With Whiskey
Another track from Stars next, this time the upbeat Mix ‘Em With Whiskey, a catchy ode to the enduring pleasures of a good whiskey. The song, which was written by Ryan Beaver, Rodney Clawson, Adam Hambrick, and Andrew DeRoberts, was first recorded by country artist Larry Flynn. Good though the original is, White’s smooth, bluesy take comes very close to besting it. Speaking to whiskeyriff.com, White has described the song as “top-shelf soul country,” going on to say: “It’s one of those jams that is a pleasure to perform, and it’ll have everyone singin’ and sippin’ in just one listen.”
On Giants, White delivers the vocal performance of his life as he issues a rallying call to the Davids of the world to stand tall in the face of the Goliaths. A soaring, stirring anthem seeped in soul, it’s impossible not to be moved by. “With the challenges of the last two years, Giants was a Godsend that was flown to (co-writers) Allison Veltz Cruz, Phil O’Donnell and I,” White has said. “They helped me through my stroke and the pandemic with their encouragement and willingness to write the truth with me. We’ve been through some crazy stuff the last two years, and this is a battle cry turning us from underdogs to lions.”
3. Power of a Woman
On the slow-burning Power of a Woman, White issues a heartfelt love letter to his wife and “all the other ladies out there keeping this world spinning.” Over a stripped-back arrangement of lazy guitars and percussion, White pays homage to all the tough-as-nails women who can play a “mean game of poker” and “cuss like a sailor” but whose “favorite four-letter word” is “love.”
2. Livin’ the Dream
After spending the early 2010s opening for acts like Luke Bryan, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Tyler Bryant, White finally landed his first major record deal with Dot Records. The result was Spark, a finely crafted collection of 12 songs that bought Drake’s charismatic blend of soul-drenched country and heartland rock to a wider audience for the first time. There’s not a bad apple on the tracklist, but Livin’ the Dream stands out as something particularly special, with a heartwarming message and a triumphant vocal performance from White. Released as the album’s second single in August 2016, it reached number 20 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart.
1. Hurts the Healing
When it comes to delivering a song that manages to combine shining positivity with a certain longing sadness, White has it covered. On Hurts the Healing, one of the clutch of new singles the singer delivered in 2021, he reflects on his near-death experience in 2019 with a heartbreaking vulnerability. But while the pain is clear to hear, the vein of hope and optimism that weaves through the lyrics stops any suggestion of it being maudlin. Speaking about the writing experience with offtherecorduk.com, White said, “I had to live through hell to get to that song. We wrote that on a Zoom call and it was just one of those things that it fell out on the page. We started pinning that song and when we started singing it, we were almost emotional, like ‘yeah this is different.’ My hope is that it just helps people as much as it helped me.”