30) Colter Wall – Songs Of The Plains
Colter comes in at #30 with a collection of tunes that showcases his bare bones approach to songwriting, which works amazingly for him. It gives the songs a lonely, haunting tone that you can imagine a lonely cowboy strumming under the stars while sitting around a campfire.
29) Ruby Boots – Don’t Talk About It
With the same kind of style and finesse that worked so well for Roy Orbison, Ruby Boots has created an album of songs that are endlessly catchy will still having plenty of punch.
28) Bobby Mackey – I’ll Go Down Swinging
Classic country in every sense of the word. Bobby may own the Most Haunted Bar in the World but there’s ghosts here, just a solid collection of tunes that would make a country lover run to the dance floor and get their boogie on!
27) Mark Knopfler – Down The Road Wherever
Pure class. That’s all that needs to be said about Mark’s records. A must have for any serious fan of the songwriter style of music.
26) Lindi Ortega – Liberty
Lindi returns here in fine form with a set of tunes that showcase her fiery, firece style. There’s some really haunting sounding stuff here that really stretches the sound that Lindi is known for and it fits her perfectly.
25) Oak Ridge Boys – 17th Avenue Revival
The Oak Ridge guys do what they’ve excelled at for the past 40+ years: sing amazing, fun songs that make you sing along. This time, they happen to be Christian and Gospel in style. The tune, “Pray To Jesus” is worth the price alone!
24) Jason Boland & The Stragglers – Hard Times Are Relative
Anyone that says the classic country sound is done need look no further than this record. This is a record that Waylon or David Allan Coe would be proud to call their own. The kind of record that is made to pack Dancehalls and Honky Tonks!
23) Pistol Annies – Interstate Gospel
Is there a more fearless group of ladies performing in music today? If there is, I don’t know who they are! You have to admire how these ladies have taken life’s adversity and turned them into a roaring collection about getting even, getting high, and getting over!
22) Luke Combs – This One’s For You Too
One of the few “Modern” sounding country stars worth his weight, Luke returns with his sophomore release. It’s a collection of tunes that have a modern edge while still maintaining a firm sense of knowing where he came from.
21) Cody Canada & The Departed – 3
Cody has long been one of the most underrated performers in music. This is yet another record that proves why he should be one of the biggest names in the genre. Packed full of songs that combine great vocals, fun songs, and superb storytelling. The song “Paranoid” is living proof that Cody can rock his ass off as well!
20) Wylie Galt Gustafson – 2000 Miles From Nashville
Wylie is an artist that I only discovered this year, even though he’s been around for decades apparently. A couldn’t think a finer place to start for discovering what an amazing talent he is. An absolute gem of a record that is filled with songs that beg to be played at full volume.
19) Jamie Lee Thurston – The Window
I discovered Jamie on his last record and was thrilled to see him finally return with new music. Full of songs that are sure to please fans of people like Toby Keith, Travis Tritt, and Brad Paisley. Jaime is a rock star in the body of a Country Boy.
18) Horseshoes & Hand Grenades – The Ode
Bluegrass of the highest order here. In fact, one of the finest Bluegrass records of the past few years, IMHO! These guys are flawless musicians that really cook on their respective instruments and make you want to hear more from them!
17) Buddy Brown – Just Sayin’
Buddy writes with an amazing sarcastic tone that takes a page directly from the Kevin Fowler play book. This is a CD that is full of hilarious tunes that are perfect for those group sing a longs while drinking around the bonfire!
16) Parker Millsap – Other Arrangements
Parker is back with album #3 and has once again written a record that is proof positive why he is one of the great new voices in music. He’s a voice that needs to be heard by fans of both rock and Americana, as he walks a fine line between the two styles. A captivating record in every way, this is a set of tunes that should be on everyone’s purchase list!
15) Sean Burns & Lost Country – Music For Taverns, Bars, and Honky Tonks
Whether you’re cutting some rug on the dancefloor of the bar or sitting at the back in the shadows and drowning your sorrows, This record absolutely is the perfect companion for said occasion. Read the title and you know exactly what you’re getting here.
14) Joe’s Truck Stop – American Dreams
A record that perfectly blends Texas Swing with bluegrass stylings, Joe’s Truck Stop have hit a grand slam with this set of tunes that will have you shaking your booty all over the Honky Tonk floor.
13) Cody Jinks – Lifers
Do I even need to say anything about how great Cody is? If you don’t know the name, then you’re simply not a fan of this genre. On a normal year, this would have ranked tons higher…it’s just been that great of a year! Still easily one of the best record this year, regardless of genre!
12) Ashley McBryde – Girl Going Nowhere
This Arkansas bred lady shoots out of the gate with her debut record. It’s a killer collection that should nicely put her name on the country map and position her for amazing thing in the coming future. Having already caught the ear of Eric Church, I’d say she’s well on her way…and she deserves it!
11) Randall King – Randall King
With a smoking collection that combines the best of Alan Jackson and Randy Travis styles, Randall is a name that I will be watching for in the future. He’s got the classic country voice that drips with charm, grace, and the ability to really throw on the twang when needed. I can totally hear Randall opening for Garth and being a huge hit with his fans!
10) Sailor Jerri – No Rules In Sight
Us Navy Veteran who used Kickstarter to get her first record done and it’s a first class affair full of tunes that are both fun and playful but also deadly serious in places. The song “22” is a MUST hear for every single person and worth the price of the record alone. I hope to be hearing tons more from her in the future.
09) Clark Country Drifters – To Roads End
Michigan based artist that released a kicker of a record that really makes ya get up and move. With a style that is strongly influenced by Steve Earle, Chris Knight, and the likes, this record is full of songs about the battles that life throws at ya. Easily one of the best new artists of the year!
08) Craig Gerdes – Smokin’, Drinkin’ & Gamblin’
If you’re a fan of Sturgill Simpson, you’re gonna absolutely flip for this record. If you’re not, well, then…you probably need to get some taste in music! Songs in the finest Waylon tradition without ever sounding tired or cheesy, Craig delivers a raucous set of Honky Tonk brawlers that are sure to please the beer drinkin’ crowd!
07) Country Heroes – Honky Tonk Tears
Man, they just write records like this much anymore. This takes ya back to that early 1970’s style sound that made Buck Owens, Freddy Fender, and Mickey Gilley household names. This just has old school Grand Ole Opry written all over it! Listen to this loud and let it just carry ya back down memory lane.
06) The Black Lillies – Stranger To Me
Cruz Contreras and band return with new record that is much more Roots rock in nature and shows a more rock oriented style that works perfectly for them. An absolutely perfect set of tunes that showcases what an amazing song crafter Cruz really is. I’ve been a long time fan and this only made me respect and love them more.
05) Tennessee Jed – Pimpgrass
Perfectly blending Bluegrass and Memphis style soul is a style that is described as “Bluegrass with Bling”, imagine if Frank Zappa and Al Green got together and then decided to write a bluegrass record that drew on both of their respective careers and style. Completely unique in sound, these songs are ear worms that will have you singing them long after you’ve stopped listening to the record!
04) Ross Cooper – I Rode The Wild Horses
Introduced to Ross’ music by artist Evan Bartels, who had the #1 record in 2017, I had to take notice. Combining Cowboy tunes with a Rock N Roll sensibility, this is a collection of tunes that Chris LeDoux would have been proud to call his own!
03) Matt Westin – Legacy
I was introduced to Matt through the PR channels while searching for music for the radio show. I was immediately blown away by this record, which was written as a tribute to Matt’s late father. I’ve since had the honor of interviewing Matt on a couple of occasions and have an even deeper appreciate for these songs from that experience. There’s not a sour note on this collection of songs that should make Matt a definite must hear on future releases.
02) Scott Southworth – Hey Hillbilly Singer!
Easily one of my most listened to records this year, this is a flawless, fun collection of tunes that invoke all the best qualities of the greats while adding his own special talent to them. A absolutely MUST hear for any true fan of country music. If this had been released in the mid 80’s to early 90’s, this would be one of those records considered the greatest of the era…and being 20 years late doesn’t change that. It’s that damn good!
Whether you’re a fan of Garth, Alan Jackson, or George Strait, there’s something here that will appeal to you and make you a big fan!
01) Whitey Morgan and The 78’s – Hard Times and White Lines
A long time journeyman of the Michigan Country scene, Whitey is finally getting noticed on a national level and all I can say is, it’s about damn time! Whitey deserves his spot right alongside Sturgill, Chris Stapleton, Cody Jinks, and the likes. If you ever needed a lesson in how to write the consummate Honky Tonk record with some STANK on it, you need look no further this one right here! This is the type of record that is drenched in tears, beer, and motor oil. This ain’t for the Man bun wearing Yuppie type of country fan, this is for the bikers, smokers, and hell raisers that love raising hell on the weekend.