It’s now time to bring you list #3 for the year, The Top 30 BEST OF for Country, Americana, and Bluegrass Music!
If you’ve missed the previous two lists, they can can be found on the main page! You can also find the criteria and rules that I use for creating these lists!
So with that said…
30) The Warden – L-I-V-I-N’
Texas based artist The Warden starts us off with his new release that is full of awesome songwriting and fun tunes for all. “Let’s Get High Tonight” is the type of song that any songwriter would be proud to sing.
29) Jordan Lee & The Revelry – Jordan Lee & The Revelry
Texas based outfit that combines driving country tunes with lots of drive and passion. Balancing Little Texas style tunes with a modern touch, this band manages to combine the best of both eras.
28) Bob Wayne – Bad Hombre
While Bob will be an acquired taste for many due to the adult nature of his tunes, he is one of the best and funniest lyricists in the business. Singing tales about sex, drugs, and gear jamming, this is a record of REAL Outlaw style shit!
27) Casey James Prestwood – Born Too Late
Casey comes in here with a record that combines the best of the Bakersfield style with Texas Honkeytonk to create a sound that is steeped in what made the classics great!
26) Kenny Foster – Deep Cuts
A CD full of wonderful tunes about life, love, and the everyday pursuit of your dreams. If more modern style country was like this, FM radio might be worth listening to.
25) Nikki Lane – Highway Queen
Few female artists represent better where country music needs to go in the future as Nikki does. Combining fun, rollicking tunes with her soulful wail to create a style that is uniquely her own.
24) The Drugstore Gypsies – The Drugstore Gypsies
A loud, bold record full of downright rocking country tunes that border on Southern Rock in places. The tune “Show Up Show Down” is the type of tune guaranteed to get any party fired up! Overall, an extremely solid record from a band that I will be watching for in the future.
23) Turnpike Troubadours – A Long Way From The Heart
This band returns with another fabulous record that is sure to win them many more fans. A solid outing featuring many great songs and sing a longs.
22) Ray Wylie Hubbard – Tell The Devil I’m Getting There As Fast As I Can
One of the true great songcrafters left in the business, Ray writes like few others. There’s a starkness to his songs that are perfect for the content. The bare bones approach leaves the emphasis on the story, instead of the actual musicianship. Sometimes, less is more…and it suits this CD just perfectly.
21) Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives – Way Out West
Marty is hands down, one of the finest musicians that we have in music, regardless of genre and this record bears witness to that special style he has carved out as his own. This is a record that you simply have to hear to believe. It’s a record that covers so much ground in a way that only Marty could pull off.
20) Willie Nelson – Gods Problem Child
I can’t remember the last time I heard Willie sound finer then he does right here. Choked full of classic sounding Willie style tunes that combine stories of life with his unique sense of style, it’s a winner on every level.
19) Sunny Sweeney – Trophy
I was new to the music of Sunny Sweeney before this record but I will definitely be watching after this one. A great collection of tunes with real feel to them. This is the kind of record that Miranda Lambert wishes she could write!
18) Colter Wall – Colter Wall
I’ll be honest, Colter’s voice took a while to grow on me. I didn’t like this record at first, but with repeated listens you get a feel for what a pure songwriter he is and you can’t help but grow to love these songs. It’s a hell of a debut and should put him on many people’s radar.
17) Aaron Watson – Vaquero
When it comes to Texas Country, few people do it finer than Aaron. His records are always a masterclass in style, fun, and how to write a damn great record. I always look forward to his new music and that won’t change anytime soon. A record that should be on everyone’s list for the year!
16) Lillie Mae – Forever And Then Some
The growth, musically, from her last record is something to really behold. This record has an almost Stevie Nicks kind of appeal in places and really proves what a force Lillie Mae is. I believe she is a name you will be seeing a ton more in coming years.
15) Veronica Grim & The Heavy Hearts – Revelator
What would you get if Linda Ronstadt started a Rockabilly style country band that sang songs that would be a perfect soundtrack for the show True Blood? I imagine it would be something real close to this fabulous record right here.
14) Ronnie Fauss – Big Leagues
I came across this record only a few weeks ago and it immediately made a huge impression on me. The fact that it’s in this position is only due to the fact that I haven’t had as much time with it as the others. It’s easily one of the best written records this year and the song “Saginaw Paper Mill” has been a damn earworm for me since I first heard it.
13) Dailey & Vincent – Patriots and Poets
There isn’t a better Bluegrass style band in the world than this one right here. This record is a shining example of just how versatile this group is, be it going full out on “Gimme All The Love You Got” or when simply doing it Accapella style like on the song “He’s Been So Good To Me” where their voices simply bring goosebumps. I haven’t had the pleasure to see them live yet, but it’s def. on my bucket list!
12) Sarah Shook & The Disarmers – Sidelong
A record with great groove, lots of spunk, and the ability get your feet tapping along. As close to a female answer to Sturgill Simpson as you’re probably going to find in music.
11) Glen Campbell – Adios
Knowing that this was Glen’s final record and that it was recorded while he was in the throe’s of suffering from Alzheimer’s, I wasn’t sure what we would get with the final product. Much like the Gregg Allman record, I can’t think of a finer record to end your career with. Glen’s voice is as strong as ever and the songs have such a sobering effect listening to him sing about his own mortality.
10) Tyler Childers – Purgatory
Another record that came to my possession very late in the process and I didn’t get nearly enough time with. Many people have listed this as their choice for record of the year and I can totally understand that admiration. It’s a superbly crafted record that had I more time with it, might have ranked much higher.
9) Trevor Sewell – Calling Nashville
While Trevor is known a bit more for playing blues influenced stuff, he comes in here with an Americana influenced record that has brilliant shades of Mark Knopfler throughout it while still retainining his own style. It’s a stunning record that far more people need to hear!
8) Jamie Suttle – Country Music Revival
If there was even a woman poised to take over the spot for Loretta and Tammy Wynette, it’s this fiery lady from Ohio. With her new record, she’s as sultry as ever while still letting you know she’s there to kick ass just like the guys! Make no mistake about it, Jamie is here to let you knowwho she is!
7) Old 97’s – Graveyard Whistling
The 97’s come in here with a record that is as energetic as any I heard this year for this genre. the songs these guys write are always terrific and leave you wanting to hear more. The song “Jesus Loves You” makes me chuckle like a schoolboy and is the all the argument you need for this record!
6) Jeremy Parsons – Things I Need To Say
Jeremy brilliantly crafts a record that mixes old school retro vibes with modern sensibilities, creating a record that is insanely catchy while still maintaining that country vibe that true fans love. “Burn This House Down”, “Purpose”, and “Devil’s Daughter” are perfect example of songs that should make him a household name for years to come.
5) The Steel Woods – Straw In The Wind
With many of the same qualities that made Chris Stapleton a name to know, this band has recorded a record rife with songs packed with big time vocals over expert instrumentation. If you enjoyed the Traveler record from Chris, you’re going to find LOTS here to love!
4) Ryan Chrys & The Rough Cuts – Shovel Full of Coal
In much the same way that Bob Wayne does, but with more mainstream appeal, Ryan and company write gritty, hard charging songs about whiskey, wine, and women. Listen to the song “Modern Outlaw Country” from this record and it will tell you all you need to know about this band.
3) Sons Of The Palomino – Sons Of The Palomino
This record is as unapologetically old school country as it gets. If this had been released back in the late 70’s or early 80’s, it’d now be considered a true classic. Their song “Independent Trucker” is sure to become an instant truck driving classic.
2) Tyminski – Southern Gothic
The name Dan Tyminski should not be new to any true fan of Country or root music. I knew upon the first listen to this record that this was going to be one of my favorites this year. It’s an absolutely haunting record with truly stunning production. I applaud him for stepping outside of the box and really doing something new hear while still staying true to his roots. It’s a special record that any artist would be proud to put their name on.
1) Evan Bartels – The Devil, God, and Me
It took exactly one listen to this record for me to know that I had found my Country record of the year. Imagine if Johnny Cash was around to take over singing duties for The Drive-By Truckers. The song “Two At A Time” might be one of the finest written songs I’ve heard in the past 5 years. The title track is also a haunting tune that is carried by Evan’s amazing voice accompanied by his solo acoustic guitar. There’s not a bad song on this record or a note out of place. At the end of the day, I’d trade ALL of the musicians on FM radio for ONE artist of this caliber!