21. Candi Staton featuring Jason Isbell and John Paul White, "I Ain't Easy to Love"
The bonafide country-soul moment of the year came from none other than Muscle Shoals legend Candi Staton, who, at 74, has hardly lost a step from her days as an unheralded Seventies soul icon. This lead cut from her latest record, Life Happens, features fitting guest vocals from fellow Alabama disciples John Paul White (of the now-defunct Civil Wars) and Jason Isbell, who help give the song cross-generational appeal. It's a much-needed reminder that the woman who once turned Tammy Wynette's "Stand by Your Man" into an R&B hit can split the difference between country, blues and soul like no one else.