Sure, "Soul" might feel like a little bit of a left turn for fans of Lee Brice's more traditional country music — and the singer even admits that at the beginning, he was a little nervous for the song to be a single, because it felt like a risk.

"It kinda did for a minute," he admits to Taste of Country, "until I started playing it live. Until I started getting calls from my countriest of countriest of kin and friends, going, 'Man, this thing, 'Soul,' is gonna be the best thing you ever had, dude.' And playing it live — when nobody had even heard it before, people loved it, and that's just always a really good sign."

Though the song is a new musical direction for Brice, it's not that much a stretch, he adds — particularly when you consider his history of putting out songs that aren't like anything he's ever done before.

"I've always done that. I've always wanted to push the envelope on the next song, on the next record, on the next ... you know," the singer points out. "And I'm gonna continue to, in a big way, even for the stuff I have planned to go record for the next record ... I've got big plans to keep stretching."

That's not just experimentation for the sake of experimentation. Growing up with a diverse array of musical influences, Brice knows that country music is at his heart, but there are a whole lot of other kinds of music that play into his signature style, too.

"It's me wanting to be who I am, and all the reaches of me," he reflects. "So I'm not gonna be afraid or apologize for singing the music that I love, even if it is a little different than normal quote country radio or country music. We gotta do what we love. You only get to do this one time."

As for that next album that he hinted at? Brice says he's always got new music up his sleeve, and those plans will formalize after the new year.

"I'm gonna specifically dive in the first of the year, start pulling it together and see what the album's gonna consist of," he hints. "I've got so much music actually recorded — not done, but started — that my first step is to be like, 'All right, what's the body of work gonna be like put together,' and then I'll finish the music."

Top Country Songs of 2021, Ranked

You'll find much more than just the Top 10 Country Songs of 2021 on this list. Enjoy the 21 best country songs of the year, based on Taste of Country staff and country music fan opinion, plus commercial data (sales, streaming, airplay).

To be considered, the song must have been released in 2021 or have actively charted for a portion of the year (see "Wine, Beer, Whiskey"). New artists including Lainey Wilson, Larry Fleet and Morgan Wade crack the top songs list, while hitmakers including Thomas Rhett, Jason Aldean and Luke Combs make the Top 10.

Let us know your favorite song of 2021 on Twitter, or email us at staff@tasteofcountry.com.