Just what 2017 has in store for us in the country music department remains to be seen. But we do know about what to expect in the release department for at least the first quarter of the year, while rumors abound about the big projects that could come to light later in 2017. Here’s a run down of what we know, what we think we know, and what we’d like to believe will be released in 2017.
NOTE: Nobody was overlooked, snubbed, or disregarded here. Every single artist in country music likely is planning to release an album in 2017, and some are planning to release two. Many will, some won’t. If you have a piece of intelligence on an album you anticipate in 2017, please feel free to share it below in the comments section.
Dale Watson and Ray Benson – Dale and Ray – January 6th
The two names synonymous with Austin have worked the same rooms for years, and it only makes sense they would eventually collaborate. Ray Benson is the current torchbearer for Western Swing as the long-time frontman of Asleep at the Wheel, and Dale Watson is the current majordomo for many traditional country fans as the originator of the Ameripolitan movement.
Dale and Ray includes covers of The Louvin Brothers’ “I Wish You Knew,” Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson’s “Write Your Own Songs,” as well as a Buck Owens song. Original songs on the album include “Bus Breakdown,” “I’m Crying, For Crying Time Again,” “Dale and Ray,” and “Feelin’ Haggard.” (pre-order)
Otis Gibbs – Mount Renraw – January 13th
Created to celebrate Otis Gibbs’ 50th Birthday, it was recorded last February in his living room with producer and guitarist Thomm Jutz, and fiddler Justin Moses. “Mount Renraw” is the name Gibbs’ east Nashville home he shares with Amy Lashley. The album was already released earlier in 2016 in Europe, but will be officially released stateside on January 13th via Otis’s own Wanamaker Recording Company. Expect a sparse record, but with rich songwriting.
Tift Merritt – Stitch of the World– January 27th
“Stitch of the World, Merritt’s sixth studio album, was written on a friend’s farm in Marfa, Texas, at Merritt’s California cabin and in New York City in the wake of several major changes in her life. Merritt workshopped the songs on Stitch of the World with longtime friend Sam Beam of Iron & Wine after bumping in to him in an airport. The album was recorded in Los Angeles while Merritt was six months pregnant, after which she relocated to her hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina.”
Via Yep Roc Records. (pre-order)
Whitney Rose – South Texas Suite EP – January 27th
The six-track collection marks Whitney’s move-in-full from Canada to Austin. It was recorded over two days at Dale Watson’s Ameripolitan Studios in North Austin, accompanied by Grammy winner Redd Volkaert, Merle Haggard’s former guitarist; Earl Poole Ball, piano player for Johnny Cash; Kevin Smith, now playing bass in Willie Nelson’s Family Band; and Tom Lewis, who’s drummed with the Mavericks, among others. All four play in Haybale!, the Continental Club’s Sunday-night stalwart; Lewis also plays in Rose’s band, along with guitarist Bryce Clark, steel player James Shelton and acoustic guitarist Sophia Johnson. They’re also on the EP, along with fiddler Erik Hokkanen and accordionist Michael Guerra.
The Sadies – Northern Passages – February 2nd
“Recorded in the basement of Dallas and Travis’ parents’ home north of Toronto over the winter of 2015, the familiar surroundings and lack of distractions resulted in a consistent feel, despite the eclecticism at the heart of The Sadies’ sound. The psych-folk flourishes on tracks such as ‘Riverview Fog’ are no mere homage; this is the sound of our inscrutable world, and how we manage to survive in it.”
Alison Krauss – Windy City – February 10th
Her first true solo record in 17 years, the Concord Music Group release was produced by Buddy Cannon. It is a covers album of bluegrass and country classics from Willie Nelson, Bill Monroe, Brenda Lee, and others. “On this album, I wanted to sing songs that are older than I am,” Krauss says. “There’s a real romance in singing other people’s stories.”
…and her continued relationship with Jamey Johnson (who also counts Buddy Cannon as a regular producer) continues to be one of the most under-reported stories in country music.
Old Crow Medicine Show – Best Of Old Crow Medicine Show – February 10th
The release will feature fan favorites plus two previously unreleased tracks. This will be the first time many of these songs have been available on vinyl. The 180-gram vinyl will also include a 4-page lyric insert and a bonus red vinyl 7″. (pre-order)
Son Volt – Notes of Blue – February 17th
10-track, blues-inspired record in the vein of Mississippi Fred McDowell, Skip James and Nick Drake, being released on Thirty Tigers.
“‘Notes Of Blue’ reflects the blues from the folk tradition, except plugged in and turned way up. Primal rhythms and frenetic guitars are balanced out with hypnotic melodies and emotive vocals throughout the new album.” (pre-order info)
Nikki Lane – Highway Queen – February 17th
Co-produced by Nikki Lane with Jonathan Tyler, this New West release features 10 tracks, including the strong-willed title track, “Jackpot” which is inspired by Las Vegas and Nikki’s relationship with Jonathan Tyler, and “700,000 Rednecks,” a tribute to her hometown of Greenville, South Carolina.
Rhiannon Giddens – Freedom Highway – February 24th
The record from Nonesuch Records includes nine original songs Giddens wrote or co-wrote while she and her band toured after Tomorrow Is My Turn‘s 2015 release, along with a traditional song and two civil rights-era songs, “Birmingham Sunday” and Staple Singers’ well-known “Freedom Highway.”
“Know thy history. Let it horrify you; let it inspire you. Let it show you how the future can look, for nothing in this world has not come around before. These songs are based on slave narratives from the 1800s, African American experiences of the last century, and the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s and headlines from streets of Ferguson and Baltimore today. Voices demanding to be heard, to impart the hard-earned wisdom of a tangled, difficult, complicated history; we just try to open the door and let them through.” –Rhiannon Giddens (pre-order)
Jaime Wyatt – Felony Blues – February 24th
“Jaime is a striking figure with an old soul and a voice like a force of nature. The Los Angeles-native is a dynamic performer, who sails naturally between vintage ‘60s and ‘70s country/rock ’n’ soul anthems and heartfelt country ballads of love and corruption. Jaime got a record deal at the age of 17, but after a second deal went down the tubes, she developed a drug problem. She got busted for robbing her drug dealer and took a plea deal for 8 months in jail, a felony strike, 6 months of treatment and 3 years felony probation. “I stayed out of trouble most of the time in jail, by singing songs for people and making them laugh,” says Jaime. Jaime’s emerged with a largely autobiographical collection of convict love stories, prison songs, and honky-tonk laments.”
George Jones – Birth of a Legend – The Truly Complete Starday and Mercury Recordings 1954-1961 – February 24th
This complete set of George Jones’ early recordings comes from Bear Family Records, and includes some 200 tracks with over seven hours of total running time, 20 previously-unissued songs (though some of you bootleggers may have heard them before), and a deluxe 174-page hardcover book. It is said the set has been in the works for over two decades, and is finally getting a release. (pre-order)
Scott H. Biram – The Bad Testament – February 24th
Biram’s 9th overall record and his 6th with Bloodshot Records. “The Bad Testament lands somewhere west of the Old Testament and south of an AA handbook, straddling the chasm between sin and redemption. It’s a record of hard-grinding lost love, blues and deep, dark Americana.” (pre-order)
Aaron Watson – Vaquero – February 24th
This is Aaron Watson’s 11th studio album to be released via his own Big Label Records on Thirty Tigers. Co-produced by Watson with Marshall Altman, the record will feature 16 total songs, half of which were penned by Aaron Watson himself.
“‘Vaquero,’ which means the ‘original cowboy,’ is an intensely reflective and personal set of songs filled with compelling narratives,” says the Aaron Watson team in an announcement. “Throughout, he depicts stories of a rugged people, humble but hardworking, like himself. He puts a playful spin on an insider’s view on the Texan way of life with ‘Amen Amigo’ and delivers life lessons courtesy of an old vaquero with the title track.” (pre-order)
Guy Clark – Best of the Dualtone Years – March 3rd
Guy Clark’s final records—Workbench Songs, Somedays the Song Writes You and My Favorite Picture of You, as well as the live LP Songs and Stories were all Dualtone releases, and on March 3rd, 19 select songs and three unreleased tracks will be compiled for a posthumous release for Clark who passed away in May 2016. The three unreleased tracks are “Just To Watch Maria Dance,” “The Last Hobo” and a Marty Stuart collaboration called “Time.” (pre-order)
Valerie June – The Order of Time – March 10th
*Note: This was originally set for release on January 27th, but was pushed back.
“On this enthralling and illuminating leap forward, the Tennessee-bred, Brooklyn based songwriter weaves electric blues, African rhythms, cosmic atmospherics and delicate soul into an inventive and wholly original rumination on love, family, struggle and the passing of time. Produced by Matt Marinelli, The Order of Time includes twelve original songs all written by June and features appearances from June’s family, her father, Emerson Hockett and brothers, Patrick and Jason Hockett.”
Via Concord Music Group. (pre-order)
Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band – The Front Porch Sessions – March 10th
Reverend Peyton’s first release through Thirty Tigers, he says about the new record, “I really think it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. I’m interested in making hand-made American music, and the goal is to be timeless.” (pre-order)
Sunny Sweeney – Trophy – March 10th
Sweeney’s fourth overall release via Thirty Tigers was produced by Dave Brainard. Sweeney co-writes all but two songs, with other songwriting contributors including Chris Wall, Brennen Leigh and Noel McKay, Lori McKenna, Jay Clementi, and others. Sunny Sweeny continues to make a name for herself as a voice in Texas country and beyond after staring her career as one of the earliest artists signed to Big Machine Records.
Hurry for the Riff Raff – The Navigator – March 10th
“Alynda Segarra tells an interwoven, cinematic story of a wandering soul at a crossroads of identity and ancestral weight. It finds a street kid named Navita traversing a perpetually burning city in search of herself. The Navigator is a thrilling call to arms that could not come at a more crucial time. It also finds Hurray for the Riff Raff at its own musical intersection, delving deep into the worlds of Latin rhythms, searing rock, and incisive ballads.”
The Navigator was produced by Paul Butler and is being released by ATO Records. (pre-order)
J.B. Beverley – Head South – April 25th
“If you liked the rock and roll side of ‘Stripped To The Root,’ you are going to love this record,” says J.B. Beverley. “Best production value I’ve mustered to date, and am showcasing some different styles and influences in the process. It is going to be a rather rock and roll wheelhouse record. Don’t get me wrong though, there’s still a country element to this album, but it has bolder songs, better production, and showcases some different influences. More southern rock than honky tonk, but a hundred percent ME!” (pre-order)
The Wood Brothers – Live At The Barn – January 13th – Live album recorded at Levon Helm’s famous Woodstock Barn August 19, 2016. Being released via Thirty Tigers.
Band of Heathens – Duende – January 13th
Moonsville Collective EP – January 13th
The Show Ponies – How It All Goes Down – January 20th
Kasey Chambers – Dragonfly – January 20th – Via Sugar Hill.
5 & Dimer’s – If It’s All a Game – January 27th
Delbert McClinton – Prick of the Litter – January 27th
Dead Man Winter – Furnace – January 27th – Solo project of Dave Simonett from Trampled By Turtles. TBT recently announced a hiatus.
John Cragie – No Rain, No Rose – January 27th
Ags Connolly – Nothin’ Unexpected – February 3rd
Rose Cousins – Natural Conclusions – February 3rd
Gurf Morlix – The Soul & The Heal – February 3rd
Wilson Fairchild – Songs Our Dads Wrote – February 7th – “Wil and Langdon Reid honor their fathers Harold and Don Reid who are both founding members of The Statler Brothers.”
Chuck Prophet – Bobby Fuller Died for Your Sins – February 10th
Black Joe Lewis – Backlash – February 10th
The Gibson Brothers – In The Ground – February 17th
AJ Hobbs – Too Much Is Never Enough – February 17th
Shinyribs – I Got Your Medicine – February 24th
Old 97’s – Graveyard Whistling – February 24th
Curtis McMurtry – The Hornet’s Nest – February 24th – From son of James McMurtry
Casey James Prestwood – Born Too Late – March 4th
Country Music Hall of Fame Sr. Dir./Producer/Writer Peter Cooper’s book Johnny’s Cash & Charlie’s Pride: Lasting Legends and Untold Adventures in Country Music will be released April 25th by Spring House Press.
The Rumor Mill
Jason Isbell on December 31st: “Looking forward to making a new album in a couple weeks with my rock and roll band. Got a bunch of good songs.”
Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys is working on his second solo release at his Easy Eye Sound studio in Nashville with a few interesting collaborators, including John Prine, Duane Eddy, Mark Knopfler, Dave Row, Gene Christman, and Bobby Wood. Word is it has a throwback sound, and will be released sometime in the spring.
Source from the Chris Stapleton camp says “Parachute” is his last single from Traveller, and they are preparing to release a lead single from a new album soon.
Courtney Patton and Jason Eady‘s collaborative album Something Together was tentatively set to be released in “early 2017,” but when nobody was watching it populated on Amazon and iTunes in early December, and Lone Star Music now has physical copies in stock. It hasn’t shown up yet through some streaming services, but it is officially out.
Colter Wall has signed with Thirty Tigers, and has been working with producer Dave Cobb on the followup to his debut EP Imaginary Appalachia.
Marty Stuart has been working on a new record that could be out in the spring, and it might be his most involved work since his 1999 concept album The Pilgrim. You could expect a heavy Bakersfield vibe, and possibly a visual component to accompany the album. Stay tuned.
Phoebe Hunt and The Gatherers have an album called Shanti’s Shadow scheduled to be released this spring. No definite date yet, but the first song “Linthead Gal” is pretty killer.
The Oak Ridge Boys are hoping to make it into the studio with Dave Cobb in the coming year. Cobb worked with the Oaks in 2009 on their album The Boys Are Back way before he was the big name in album production. According to the band, everybody is on board for a second installment with Cobb, they’re just trying to coordinate schedules.
Ray Scott will have a new album coming soon called Guitar For Sale.
Holly Williams did an album with Dave Cobb now what seems to be a couple of years back, but there is still no release date for it. Holly recently had a child, so she may be waiting for the right opportunity to release it once her family life is more settled. Stay tuned.
High Plains Jamboree – The Brennen Leigh / Noel McKay project signed with Voxhall Records in early December, and will be releasing a record sometime in 2017 working with Jimmy Metts.
Justin Townes Earle on December 19th: “Getting close on the new record.”
Steve Earle is prepping a new album with a title track that will be called something along the lines of “Outlaw Blues” or “So You Want to Be An Outlaw,” and Willie Nelson will sing on the second verse of the song. Earle has been singing the song in concert recently, and announcing it as the title track. No further details on when or where he will release it at the moment.
Chris Knight recently addressed his delay in new music with The Tennessean‘s Juli Thanki :“It’s hard for me to just write a song that ain’t going to be really interesting to me, just a nice little ditty,” Knight said. “If I could write a real good ditty, I’d do it all the time, but I’ve never been able to do that. I’ve always had to have some kind of story that interested … (Songs are) coming slower than they used to for some reason … I need to get in the studio, record what I got, and see where I go from there.”
Charlie Worsham is expected to have a new album in the first half of 2017.
Robbie Fulks has been tweeting from what appears to be the famous Arlyn Studios in Austin, TX, making a “hardcore country and western” record with many notable Austin musicians, including Redd Volkaert and others. UPDATE: According to Robbie, it is not a record of his own, but one he’s producing for Linda Gail Lewis. Stay tuned.
Wheeler Walker Jr. says he has a new album in the can that will be released in 2017.
The Secret Sisters have been working on a new release with producers Brandi Carlile and the Hanseroth twins. Rumor has it out sometime this spring-ish.
The Boomswagglers have a record that should be out sometime in 2017 tentatively titled Heartbreaking Places in My Mind.
According to Whitey Morgan‘s steel guitar player Brett Robinson, they’re heading into the studio next month (February).
Cory Branan will have a new album out via Bloodshot Records in 2017. No further ino available at the moment.
Ray Wylie Hubbard has finished up a new album, including collaborating with Austin’s Bright Light Social Hour. Though nothing is set in stone and no title has been confirmed, a May 12th release date has been floated.
Modern Mal, consisting of Rachel Brooke and Brooks Robbins, have a record on the way called The Misanthrope Family Album. No release date yet.
And Slaid Cleaves has been working on an album. No further details at the moment.