Will 2018 be yet another banner year for independent country releases like 2017 was? We’ll have to see, but what we do know is what to expect in the release department for at least the first quarter of the year, while rumors abound about other projects that could come to light later in the year. Here’s a detailed run down of what we know, what we think we know, and what we’d like to believe will be released in 2018.
NOTE: No artist or album was overlooked, snubbed, or disregarded here. Every single artist in country music likely is planning to release an album in 2018, and some are planning to release two. Many will, many won’t. If you have a piece of intelligence on an album you anticipate in 2018, please feel free to share it below in the comments section for the benefit of everyone, and check back as new info is posted as it becomes available.
Anderson East – Encore – January 12th
Produced by Dave Cobb for Cobb’s Elektra imprint, and recorded at Nashville’s historic RCA Studio and House of Blues and Farmland Studio, Encore includes collaborations with songwriters Chris and Morgane Stapleton, Ed Sheeran, Aaron Raitiere and more, as well as a cover of Ted Hawkins’ “Sorry You’re Sick” and Willie Nelson’s “Somebody Pick Up My Pieces”.
Much more old school R&B than country, Anderson still holds much sway and influence in the roots world as the cornerstone of Dave Cobb’s Low Country Sound record label, and as the current beau of Miranda Lambert.
Ugly Valley Boys – Iron Mine – January 19th
The Utah duo’s album Double Down was one of the big surprises of 2011 from how they were able to evoke such a deep, classic sound in their music. When you look at what the two men do when they’re not appearing on stage, it only makes sense that the vintage vibes come naturally. Singer and guitar player Ryan Eastlyn is a genuine old-school classic neon glass blower and bender for Brimley Neon in Salt Lake City, focusing on reproduction and restoration. Not to be outdone, bass player Braxton Brandenburg has his own off-stage passion for the by-gone art of being an old school barber and owns his own shop.
Their sophomore album has been a long time coming, and is highly anticipated by fans.
First Aid Kit – Ruins – January 19th
Produced by Tucker Martine of My Morning Jacket fame and recorded in Portland, Oregon at Flora Studios, it features appearances by Peter Buck of REM, and Wilco’s Glenn Kotche. If the first two songs are any indication, the new album will be a much more country and rootsy effort compared to previous albums. The title of the new album, as well as many of the songs, are said to be inspired by the breakup of Klara Söderberg from her fiancee.
Along with the album announcement comes a new song called “Postcards” that lives up to the billing of a more country and roots style to the pair’s upcoming record. This joins another preemptively-released track called “It’s A Shame.” The duo was recently in the United States ahead of the release, performing at ACL Fest in Austin among other places. (read more)
Caitlyn Smith – Starfire – January 19th
Caitlyn Smith has been one of the most criminally under-the-radar singers and songwriters of the last decade. She might be one of the best singers in modern music, and has written songs for Dolly Parton, Garth Brooks, and a quadruple platinum smash for Meghan Trainor, “Like I’m Going to Lose You.”
Smith is finally getting her big chance, putting her new album Starfire squarely on the radar, but the question is will her deal with Shane McAnally’s Monument Records strangle the roots from the Minnesota native’s music? Her lead single “Starfire” is a bit more sparkle than grit. We’ll find out the answer on January 19th.
Dusty Rust – Stolen Horse – January 26th
Dusty Rust is a Neo Honky Tonk performer crawling out from under the music hub of Kansas City, MO. His sound brings a lot of twang to the urban streets and taverns where he’s often heard, one such place being The Westport Saloon. 52 times a year you can hear him playing homage to the golden days of country music from Hank Williams that can journey all the way through the outlaw movement and into underground 80’s country.
Stolen Horse is the title of Dusty’s 3rd release in the last 6 years, a collective of songs that were recorded in his Honky Tonk laboratory studio in December of 2016 over the course of four days. It’s a fearless collection of Americana songs that come straight from the heart and soul of a true working man.
Mary Gauthier – Rifles & Rosary Beads – January 26th
Each year it is estimated that over 7,400 current and former members of the United States Armed Services take their own lives. The songs featured on Rifles & Rosary Beads were all co-written as part of Songwriting With Soldiers, which is a not-for-profit program coordinating retreats that bring professional songwriters together with wounded veterans and active duty military. Participants have shared that the experience of songwriting was life changing for them, some even said life saving.
Mary Gauthier has used songwriting herself to work through addiction and childhood abandonment as an orphan. Now she is taking that same therapeutic experience to Rifles & Rosary Beads.
Laura Benitez and the Heartache – With All Its Thorns – January 26th
From Berkeley, California, Laura Benitez has been one of those West Coast country music revivalists who never seems to get her worthy due in the rest of the country, writing her own songs and performing them with her backing band, The Heartache.
With All Its Thorns is said to be a “collection of loving, open, vulnerable and ultimately heartbreaking songs. With her delicately distinctive voice, Benitez pulls from traditional country music and brings the sound to the present-day.”
Mike and the Moonpies – Steak Night at the Prairie Rose – February 2nd
At the moment this is Saving Country Music’s most anticipated release for 2018. Produced by Adam Odor who is known for working on records from Jason Boland and the Stragglers, The Departed, Randy Rogers Band, Aaron Watson, and more, the album was recorded at the Yellow Dog Studios in Wimberley, Texas, just outside of Austin. Odor also worked with the band on their recent live release, Live at WinStar World Casino and Resort.
“I love that country music era coming out of the outlaw thing and going into the more contemporary country stuff,” Mike Harmeier says. “For me, that’s when things started to get really interesting musically, and I think this whole record kind of has that ’80s thing to it — probably because there’s so much Wurlitzer all over it.” (read more)
Ruby Boots – Don’t Talk About It – February 9th
From Australia, Ruby Boots left a conflicted home at 14 years old in Perth, Western Australia to do grueling work on pearling boats, and followed her vision to be a songwriter all the way to Nashville.
Don’t Talk About It will be released by Bloodshot Records, and was recorded at Modern Electric Sound Records in Dallas, TX with producer Beau Bedford. It features The Texas Gentlemen as the backing band, with Nikki Lane lending vocals and co-writing credits to the title track. Don’t Talk About It is said to chart her drifter’s odyssey.
Wade Bowen – Solid Ground – February 9th
Texas music stalwart Wade Bowen will release his latest record called Solid Ground via Thirty Tigers on February 9th, 2018. Produced by songwriter and guitar player Keith Gattis, it will be Bowen’s first proper full-blown release of original music since his 2014 self-titled record. Bowen also released the gospel record Then Sings My Soul: Songs for My Mother in 2016, as well as the collaboration with Randy Rogers Hold My Beer: Vol. 1 in 2015.
“Saying ‘this is my Texas album’ seems like an obvious statement from a guy who’s sweated it out in as many beer halls as I have…but Gattis pushed me harder on my writing than I’d ever been challenged before,” says Bowen. “Each morning, he and I got to the studio hours before the band to write, so the album’s sound was unfolding organically as we were recording it which unified the mood and grit of the whole thing.” (read more)
Brandi Carlile – By The Way, I Forgive You – February 16th
Produced by Dave Cobb and Shooter Jennings, By The Way, I Forgive You is said to be a “massive change” from the singer and songwriter. Carlile first met Dave Cobb when they worked together on an arrangement for the Dolly Parton song “The Story” as part of a tribute record. Since then the pair has wanted to work together again, and the result is the new record.
Brandi Carlile will once again be joined by her longtime bandmates, Phil and Tim Hanseroth, aka “The Twins.” The first song from the album “The Joke” was released in November with lots of positive buzz. Well have to see just how massive the change is with this new record, but Brandi Carlile’s efforts always deserve close attention. It is being released on Dave Cobb’s Elektra imprint. Cover art by Scott Avett.
Courtney Patton – What It’s Like to Fly Alone – February 16th
If you know anything about Texas country songwriters, then you know about Courtney Patton. And if you don’t know about Courtney Patton, then you better get wise. Fortunate for you, she’ll make it easy on you by releasing a new album on February 16th, 2018 called What It’s Like to Fly Alone.
“The title sounds melancholy, but the resolve isn’t,” Patton explains. “This record is full of songs about people who have had to ‘fly alone’ in some way, whether through grief, loss, life choices, addiction or love. We have to work through our struggles, choose our own destiny, just like the characters in each song. We have to make ourselves happy. No one else can do that for us. I’ve been down in most of those ways, but I choose happiness. In the end, ‘flying alone’ is soaring because you pick your path and you find your way.” (read more)
J.D Wilkes (of Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers) – Fire Dream – February 16th
The notorious front man of Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers, The Dirt Daubers, and conspirator on many other projects Col. JD Wilkes will release a true solo album for the first time in his career. Called Fire Dream, it will be released by Big Legal Mess through Fat Possum Records on February 16, 2018. Recorded at Delta-Sonic Sound in Memphis, it was produced by Jimbo Mathus of Squirrel Nut Zippers fame, along with Bruce Watson. Dr. Sick of the Squirrel Nut Zippers also plays on the record.
“They were the perfect people to bring in. They could play any kind of style,” says Wilkes. “Jimbo has such an intuitive feel for blues and Dr. Sick, man, he’s the most amazing musician I’ve ever had the privilege of playing with. I don’t even know what his real name is, but that guy is awesome.” (read more)
Dallas Moore – Mr. Honky Tonk – February 23rd
Outlaw country stalwart and Ameripolitan-decorated Dallas Moore’s latest album is produced by Dean Miller, known for working with Chris Stapleton, Alison Krauss, Merle Haggard, and backed by a crew of country luminaries including harmonica legend Mickey Raphael, famed Nashville session bassist Michael Rhodes, and pedal-steel master Steve Hinson.
Mr. Honky Tonk is said to expertly toes the line between Saturday-night hell raising and Sunday-morning God praising to create a timeless entry in the outlaw country canon.
Caleb Caudle – Crushed Coins – February 23rd
“Crushed Coins is a departure from my past records in a few ways,” Caudle says. “We recorded a lot of it out in Los Angeles, which took me out of my comfort zone — having made the last couple albums at home [in North Carolina]. We discussed how albums used to work as a whole, they were something more than just a group of songs.”
Contributors to the album include Joshua Hedley, Erin Rae, guitarist Megan McCormick, pedal steel player Brett Resnick (Kelsey Waldon, Kacey Musgraves), and bassist Kevin Black (Sturgill Simpson, Margo Price). Caudle will also tour heavily behind the new album.
Vivian Leva – Time Is Everything – March 2nd
If you’ve been swept up in the fever surrounding Dori Freeman lately, or appreciate the efforts of Gillian Welch and Sarah Jarosz, deeply-rooted singer and songwriter Vivian Leva from Richmond, VA, and her album Time Is Everything definitely needs to be on your radar for 2018. From primitive country to classic honky tonk, Time Is Everything is said to be a textured and expansive affair. Her father is James Leva, who is a respected musician himself. Vivian began performing with him at 9-years-old.
“The biggest part of traditional music has always been the community,” Vivian Leva says. “It’s really special that you can travel almost anywhere and share tunes with a group of people that you’ve never met.”
Ashley Campbell – The Lonely One – March 9th
This is the long-awaited debut album from Glen Campbell’s banjo maestro daughter who appeared during Glen’s farewell tour, and has also showed up here and there in recent years. She was originally signed to Big Machine’s Dot label, but when the label dissolved, it appears Campbell didn’t make the cut to be shifted onto another Big Machine imprint. She released a single on Dot called “Remembering” about her father, but it stalled at #55 in the charts.
Now it appears Ashley Campbell is a free agent. She release a new song called “A New Year” on December 1st ahead of The Lonely One. Though Campbell may be one of the most capable banjo pickers out there right now, don’t be surprised if The Lonely One has a very decidedly pop direction. Nonetheless, her pedigree and previous performances make this release one to pay attention to.
Scotty McCreery – Seasons Change – March 16th
This will be a very interesting release to watch. Though to many Scotty McCreery will always be the Alfred E. Neuman look-alike who got his start via American Idol, he has one of the best voices right now in country music, and a propensity to record and release better, more traditional songs if given the opportunity.
After being dropped from Mercury Nashville, he is now signed to Triple Tigers, which is a venture between Sony Music, Triple 8, and independent music stalwart Thirty Tigers. His critically-acclaimed song “Five More Minutes” is climbing the radio charts, and McCreery could be a good candidate to step up beside William Michael Morgan and Jon Pardi as new traditionalists in the mainstream.
Red Shahan – Culberson County – March 30th
Culberson County is the followup to Red Shahan’s acclaimed 2015 debut Men & Coyotes. With references to meth, oil, and the desperation of small town life, Culberson County is said to showcase Shahan’s gritty, no-nonsense character and his astounding ability to put stories to song. It is being released by Thirty Tigers.
Shahan is a die hard Texan and a rising name in the Texas country scene, regularly playing the haunts and events in the Texas music circuit. He was also considered an honorary member of the now deceased band Six Market Blvd, and often still plays with remnants of the band. More information on this release soon.
Other Confirmed Releases
Brooks Dixon – White Roses EP – January 12th
Walker McGuire, Walker McGuire EP – January 12th
Mickey Lamantia – Every Bad Habit – January 12th
Johnny Dango – Dear Everybody, I love You – January 19th
R. Finn – Collecting Trip – January 19th
Devin Dawson – Dark Horse – January 19th
Urban Pioneers – Hillbilly Swing Music– January 19th
LANCO – Hallelujah Nights – January 19th
John Gorka – True In Time – January 19th (first release from Red House Records after being acquired from Compass Records).
Ben Miller Band – Choke Cherry Tree – January 26th (via New West)
Amber Rubarth and Joe Purdy – American Folk Soundtrack – January 26th
Calexico – The Thread That Keeps Us – January 26th
Steep Canyon Rangers – Out in the Open – January 26th
Sara Morgan – Average Jane – January 26th
Moe Bandy – Autobiography Book Lucky Me – January 26th
Jeb Barry and the Pawn Shop Saints – Texas etc. – January
The Wood Brothers – One Drop of Truth – February 2nd
Montgomery Gentry – Here’s To You – February 2nd
John Oates – Arkansas – February 2nd (Yes, he’s “Americana” now)
Sunny War – With The Sun – February 2nd
Corey Nolen (w/ Ashley Spurling) – Not All Roses – February 3rd
Jim White – Waffles, Triangles & Jesus – February 9th
Craig Gerdes – Smokin’ Drinkin’ & Gamblin’ – February 16th (via Sol Records)
Kieran Kane and Rayna Gellert – The Ledges – February 16th
Raven and Red – We Rise Up – February 16th
Darling West – While I Was Asleep – February 16th
Marlon Williams – Make Way For Love – February 16th
I’m With Her – See You Around – February 16th
Nathan Kalish – I Want to Believe – February 19th
Caroline Rose – LONER – February 23rd (via New West)
3HatTrio – Lord of the Desert – February 23rd
Shawn Colvin – The Starlighter – February 23rd
Paul Luc – Bad Seed – February – (Includes pianist Jefferson Crow and pedal steel from Laur Joamets of Sturgill Simpson fame.)
Ross Cooper – I Rode the Wild Horses – February – New album from former professional bareback rider
6 String Drag – Top of the World – March 9th
Sam Morrow – Concrete and Mud – March (via Forty Below Records)
Eric Church – 61 Days in Church – April 21st
The Rumor Mill
Cody Jinks was recently at the Sonic Ranch in West Texas recording his latest record. This could be a big one for Cody. Also, don’t be surprised if a big-named guest or two shows up in the track list.
Whitey Morgan has also made his own trip out to the Sonic Ranch (which his last record was named after). 2018 could be the Cody & Whitey show. Both hard-hitting traditionalists share the same management, and are enjoying the same upsurge in attention a decade into their careers.
The Randy Rogers Band will have a 2018 released produced by Dave Cobb. Stay Tuned.
Joshua Hedley has signed with Jack White’s Third Man Records. Expect details on a 2018 release soon.
Sarah Shook‘s Sidelong was a breakout release for 2017 (even though Saving Country Music was touting it in 2015 when it was released independently). Rumor is she’s been working on a new one, and don’t be surprised if it emerges in or around April.
Lindi Ortega has a new album coming after a crowdfunding campaign. She revealed the album cover which seems to imply the record is called Liberty, but no more info is currently available. Look for a possible spring release from the Canadian dark country revivalist.
John Prine will have his first album of all new music in 13 years in 2018. No further details at the moment.
Kristina Murray is a name that has been on Saving Country Music’s watch list for a long time. Her recently-released song “How Tall The Glass” is excellent, and it’s anticipated she will release a new album in 2018.
Kacey Musgraves will have a new album in the “Winter of 2018.” Expect much more info soon.
Alejandro Escovedo has signed with Yep Roc Records. Expect a new album in 2018.
Michaela Anne has released a new song “One Love Song” ahead of a potential 2018 release.
Ben Haggard‘s long-awaited debut album could be on the way in 2018. Don’t be surprised if a famous name is tied to the release from Merle’s son.
The Pistol Annies are promising a new album in 2018 according to Miranda Lambert, though no more details or a confirmation have been released.
Emmylou Harris is writing a memoir. “Over the years I’ve been asked, and finally I thought, ‘You know probably, because of where I find myself and the wonderful life I’ve had, somebody’s gonna write my life story, and I would prefer that it be me.'”
Koe Wetzel – New album summer 2018.
Aaron Watson has been saying from the stage recently that he is going into the studio in January to make a new record.
Austin Lucas will have a couple of new albums in 2018, starting with the acoustic live Field Recordings out in early 2018 via Last Chance Records, and then a new studio album called Immortal Americans that he was recently recording with producer Steve Albini in Chicago. More info soon.
Loretta Lynn was supposed to have a new album called Wouldn’t It Be Great that was supposed to be released mid 2017. But after she suffered a stroke, the release was delayed. There is been no more word on if the release is moving forward. Loretta is said to be slowly recovering from the stroke.
American Aquarium will have a new album with the new lineup called Things Change announced a while ago. Tentatively set for a May release.
Alan Jackson has released a new song “The Older I Get” ahead of an anticipated 2018 release.
Pat Reedy is working with Muddy Roots Recordings on a new album likely to be released in 2018. If you like Luke Bell, this is definitely one to watch.
Alice Wallace released a new song “Echo Canyon” that is expected to make it on a potential 2018 release.
Hank3 is always a hot topic when it comes to the rumor mill since he’s now over three years deep into a downright disappearing act. Though details are sketchy, rumor says that after he was forced to move out of his long-time compound The Haunted Ranch in east Nashville, the new place he moved to was full of hiccups, making it necessary for him to pull up stakes once again and find yet another location to call home base. This is possibly the reason he has been absent from new releases and touring.
Colter Wall could have a new album in 2018. If so, expect many old traditional tunes done anew.
David Allan Coe will very likely have a new album in 2018. On December 21st, the official David Allan Coe twitter account tweeted, “Big news on the new album coming soon…” Though nothing has been confirmed, the rumors continue to swirl that Coe could be involved with Average Joe’s Entertainment owned by country rapper Colt Ford. Coe did a new version of “Take This Job and Shove It” with Average Joe’s artist The Moonshine Bandits in early 2017, fanning the rumor flames.
Dale Watson may have a new album out very soon. If you know Dale, he usually doesn’t go six months without a new release, and his last record was his effort with Ray Benson at the very start of 2017.
Dillon Carmichael‘s song “Old Songs Like That’ have him on many people’s radar, and his Dave Cobb-produced album should see the light of day in 2018.
Caitlin Rose has waited a very long time to release new music, all the way since early 2013 with The Stand-In. Once one of the brightest prospects of the east Nashville insurgency, and still a common face in east Nashville haunts and a voice found on many projects emerging from the area, she hinted on Instagram in late 2017 that new music may finally be on the way. “Cut some freakin bangers with these guys this holiday season,” she said. “Very into it. Plz stand by.”
James Hunnicutt is prepping a new release for 2018, and to re-release some older records.
William Clark Green has a new album on the way, likely called Hebert Island after some property his family owns near Beaumont, Texas.
Ashley Monroe has been in the studio, and will likely relese a new record in 2018. Don’t be surprised if Dave Cobb is involved.
Julie Roberts has been working on a new album produced by Shooter Jennings.
Erik Dylan, new album, spring 2018.
Don Gallardo has signed with Rock Ridge Music. Expect a new album Still Here in April-ish.
Austin Meade is working on a new album for 2018. “It is a kick ass representation of who I’ve become, with the fingerprints of my favorite artists.”
Brothers Osborne in early December, “If it’s not complete, it’s damn close. We’re really, really stoked to have it out. It’s even further down the rabbit hole of what our music and our sound is. We’re not going anywhere near the center with this one. It’s very musical.”
Jason Boland has had a new album rumored in the offing for quite some time now, with some expecting it would come out mid 2017. So far nothing has been confirmed, but don’t be surprised if we hear something soon.
Hellbound Glory says, “Bird Dawg Sessions start in a week . . . out in 2018.”
Peewee Moore has changed his name to Cecil Allen Moore, and is expected to release a new album in the spring of 2018.
Amy Annelle – High Country – 2018
Frank Turner on 12/29: “Checking mixes for the next record tonight. Sounding absolutely banging. Can’t wait for the spring!