2018 has been incredibly busy with new albums in the country and roots realm, and the 2nd half of the year looks to be just as busy. So to help you keep track of it all and perhaps help separate the wheat from thew chaff, here is a handy guide to some of the top releases to anticipate, a more expansive list of confirmed releases, and a rumor mill where any potential insight into upcoming releases is included.
PLEASE NOTE: This list starts with albums being released on June 1st into September. If it’s warranted, there will be another similar list for the last months of 2018 once information becomes available.
PLEASE NOTE: No artist or album was overlooked, snubbed, or disregarded here. Every single artist in country music is likely planning to release an album in the second half of 2018. 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.
Tami Neilson – SASSAFRASS! – June 1st
Now she is back with a new selection of songs compiled under the name SASSAFRASS! that will be released via Outside Music, and promises to pick up where the rambunctious Dynamite! left off. Co-produced by Tami and Ben Edwards, who worked on Neilson’s previous two records, it’s an old-school rockin’ smokey bluesy soul country affair with backup singers and a horn section brought in to blow your socks off with badass tunes served at full volume. (read more)
American Aquarium – Things Change – June 1st
Making reference to the fact that the band has gone through a complete personnel change since their last effort—with the only exception being frontman and principle songwriter BJ Barham remaining committed to the original name—Things Change will be a new beginning for the band when it is released on June 1st.
But this is not the situation of a band on the mend backing into an effort to survive. Arguably Things Change sees the 12+ year project by Barham just now reaching its stride ahead of the release of its 7th album. Just signed by New West Records, Things Change will have more muscle behind it than any other release previous from the band, and will also feature a new lineup that has been seasoned on the road. Oklahoma songwriter and Grammy nominee John Fullbright plays a big role in bringing the new version of American Aquarium to life, producing Things Change, and also playing keys and guitar, and singing on the record in various places. (read more)
Karen Jonas – Butter – June 1st
A long-time favorite of Saving Country Music since the release of her debut album Oklahoma Lottery, Karen Jonas is back with her latest album called Butter, which is said to delve into the hectic life of a full-time musician having to balance a family life. Long-time guitarist Tim Bray joins Karen, as does producer Jeff Covert.
“Whether I’m ﬁnishing up a gig at midnight or getting pounced on by my kids at 6:30 a.m., I usually feel like my life is a circus. So I started writing songs about my circus,” Karen says. “My ﬁrst two albums featured a lot of heartbroken songs. That didn’t feel authentic for this album. Butter is about my story now, as a working musician and mother — about the challenges of each role and, especially, the challenge of balancing the two. It’s about baking my cake and eating it, too.”
Coco O’Connor – This Ol’ War – June 8th
You may have never heard of Coco O’Connor, but you will want to hear her upcoming record This Ol’ War when it’s released June 8th. Originally from near Muscle Shoals in Alabama, she first moved to Nashville many years ago to pursue a music career. However she proved to be too rebellious, and eventually left town without ever releasing an album, and moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Now she’s back to make the record she’s always wanted to make, and to do it her way. This Ol’ War is produced by Parker Carson, who is the son of legendary producer Buzz Carson.
mmhmm – Self-Titled – June 8th
When Midwest native Hannah Fairlight moved to Raelyn Nelson’s hometown of Nashville, people kept confusing them for one-another, so the two like-minded lookalikes decided to form a band. The pair have gained a lot of traction individually with their solo projects, and now the universe has pushed them together.
Raelyn Nelson has been playing in her own Raelyn Nelson Band for years, and is the direct granddaughter of Willie Nelson. Hannah Fairlight moved to Nashville in 2013, and is known for being cast in a leading role on A&E’s Crazy Hearts: Nashville. Together the make a rollicking version of string music that’s fun and fresh.
Rhyan Sinclair – Barnstormer – June 22nd
With the way quality music has been pouring out of Kentucky lately, anyone with a song and a guitar from The Bluegrass State has to be taken seriously. This young singer and songwriter put her first band together when she was 11-years-old. Recently inspired by the Trio album from Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, and Linda Ronstadt, she decided to write and record her own country music heartbreaker which became Barnstormer.
“I hope people know that I can be counted on to share raw emotions, whether it’s heartbreak or joy,” says Sinclair. “I just want it to feel as real and intimate to someone listening to the album as it felt to me when I wrote it. My hope is that these songs will speak to people on a soul level. I think it is such a liberating thing when you hear a song that understands you and what you’re going through. That’s always my goal.”
Tyler Childers – Live on Red Barn Radio I & II – June 29th
Any upstanding country music fan worthy of the air they breathe already knows about the brilliance of Saving Country Music’s reigning Album of the Year winner Purgatory from Tyler Childers. But many long-standing disciples of the red-headed one from Kentucky were tipped off on his brilliance years before via a couple of live EPs released in 2013 and 2014 known respectively as Live on Red Barn Radio I and II.
It was these two 4-song EPs being passed around that helped put the songwriter and east Kentucky crooner on the music map. The promise those two EPs showed had folks in Kentucky and West Virginia salivating of what Childers could do with some proper studio time. Already available through streaming services, they will now be sent to listeners on lush, 180-gram vinyl. (read more)
Cody Canada and the Departed – 3 – June 29th
The band’s first record as a power trio, 3 shines a light on the core ingredients of the band’s sound. There’s plenty of amplified crunch, Red Dirt twang, roadhouse-worthy guitar riffs, story-based songwriting, and the familiar rasp of Canada‘s voice. They worked with producer Mike McClure for the first time since the Ragweed days, and the band tracked their new material during breaks in an otherwise busy touring schedule, approaching the recording sessions the same way they’d approach a live show.
“This record sounds like Cross Canadian Ragweed between 2002 and 2006, and it goes back to the way I originally started writing songs,” says Cody. “It’s observational writing. I was inspired by the bad news on the television. The good news, too. I was inspired by falling in love all over again with my wife, by watching my kids go through life, by politics, and by the modern world.”
Cody Jinks – Lifers – ???
Sad to inform you, but it is very unlikely the latest album from Cody Jinks that we know is called Lifers will be delivered in June as previously promised. Back in late January, the news came down that Lifers was completed, and would see the light of day “No Later Than June 2018.” A banner adorned the Cody Jinks Facebook page with this information for months. But if the record was going to be released in June, we would have seen pre-order options, and likely a lead single by the time of this post. Instead, the Jinks camp recently changed the banner, and June now looks off the table.
What is the reason for the delay? We’ll have to just wait and see, but something very big could be brewing that could make the extra wait all worth the while. As Saving Country Music predicted in January, 2018 Will Be the Year of Cody Jinks. But it might take a bit more time to make sure everything is in order to see that prophesy realized. Stay tuned…
Kinky Friedman – Circus of Life – July 3rd
Kinky Friedman will release his first record of original music when Circus of Life hits stores on July 3rd. Friedman is releasing the album on his on his own terms and on his own Echo Hill Records—so independent he’s not even minding the international standard of releasing new music on Friday (the 3rd is a Tuesday).
The album is said to be inspired by a call from Willie Nelson, who asked Kinky what he was doing at that moment. Kinky answered truthfully that he was watching Matlock, to which Willie replied, “That is a sure sign of depression, Kinky. Turn Matlock off and start writing.”
DevilDriver Tribute – Outlaws ‘Til The End – July 6th
Heavy metal band DevilDriver has been working on an Outlaw country tribute record that will include special guests and a heavy metal influence on Outlaw country. Called Outlaws ‘Til The End, it will be released July 6th release via Napalm Records.
From the country world, Hank Williams III, John Carter Cash, and Ana Christina (Cash) will participate in the project, as will metal and punk luminaries such as Lamb of God’s Randy Blythe, Lee Ving of Fear, Wednesday13, Brock Lindow of 36 Crazyfists, and Burton C. Bell of Fear Factory. Songs covered include “Whiskey River,” “I’m the Only Hell (Mama Ever Raised),” “The Man Comes Around,” “A Thousand Miles From Nowhere,” “Copperhead Road,” “The Ride,” and the tribute album starts off with a cover of Hank3’s “Country Heroes” with Hank3 guesting on the track. (read more)
AHI – In Our Time – July 13th
Those who’ve been seeing Canadian songwriter AHI perform (pronounced like the letter ‘I’) in his horse-riding helmet can attest he’s the real deal. Recently signed to Thirty Tigers, expect In Our Time to be the toast of Americana when it is released on July 13th.
“Feel is everything to me. I wanted to write music I wasn’t hearing, music that was appealing to something I felt deep down inside. It’s all me in the songs, but a curated version of myself. I’m not a dark person, but I do write songs with darker elements I can relate to. I’m a simple guy and I like to believe my songs are simple. I don’t ever want to appear as something other than how I am in my songs.”
Lori McKenna – The Tree– July 20th
If there’s any hope for the future of mainstream country music, it lies in songwriters like Lori McKenna. Whenever you see a quality song from a major label country artist, it’s uncanny how often Lori McKenna’s name comes up in the songwriting credits.
True country fans know that if you want to find the best music, you have to go straight to the source. Lori McKenna’s 2016 album The Bird and the Rifle produced by Dave Cobb was one of the best that year. Now she is preparing another solo release with Dave Cobb at the helm once again via Thirty Tigers. (read more)
Jim Lauderdale – Time Flies + Jim Lauderdale and Roland White – August 3rd
After a decade apart, Jim Lauderdale and Yep Roc Records have come together once again to release two separate records on August 3rd. The first is called Time Flies, and is Lauderdale’s latest original studio record blending his unique style of country and soul together that has helped to go on to define “Americana.” It was co-producer with Jim Weaver, and recorded at Nashville’s Blackbird Studios.
The second record is called Jim Lauderdale and Roland White, and it was recorded in 1979 in the basement of the house of Earl Scruggs. It was Jim’s first official album, and has been lost for four decades. It is previously unreleased, and was recorded right when Lauderdale arrived in town.
Shooter Jennings – Shooter – August 10th
Shooter Jennings has reunited with producer Dave Cobb to present his latest record Shooter August 10th. Shooter and Cobb first worked together in 2005 on Shooter’s debut Put The ‘O’ Back in Country before anybody knew who Dave Cobb was, or Shooter for that matter. Cobb cut his teeth on Shooter’s early records, including his conceptualized Black Ribbons. Now after long and winding roads, the two are back together.
Jennings is calling the 9 songs of Shooter his “Hank Jr. record,” meaning expect it to have a rocking country honky tonk sound. It is being released on Cobb’s Elektra imprint, Low Country Sound.
Dillon Carmichael – Hell On An Angel – August 17th
Those paying attention to the doings in traditional country have been salivating for the eventual release of Dillon Carmichael’s debut album for a while now. The Dave Cobb-produced record will be hitting shelves via Riser House Records.
Only in his mid 20’s, you may be surprised that the love of traditional country music is so strong in him, but the pedigree and promise in his young career is definitely present. Carmichael is the grandson of Harold Montgomery, who was a respected Kentucky country singer, and Harold Carmichael, who was a member of The Carmichael Brothers. More famously, he’s the nephew of country music performers Eddie Montgomery, and John Michael Montgomery. (read more)
William Clark Green – Herbert Island – ???
We know the who and the what, we just don’t know the when just yet. A while back Texas music riser William Clark Green let it be know that his latest effort would be called Herbert Island. Pronounced “A-Bear,” it is an homage to a piece of land his family owns.
Initial murmurings had Herbert Island being delivered in April. But obviously April came and passed with no album, let alone an announcement, pre-order options, or a lead song. But don’t fret. Often when you get all the information on a record but no record itself, it’s because better opportunities presented themselves. We’ll just have to be patient and see if that’s the case with Hebert Island.
UPDATE: William Clark Green says, “HEBERT ISLAND is done….. The new single, Hit You Where It Hurts, will be out June 4th.”
Lucero – Among The Ghosts – August 20th
If it weren’t for songwriter Ben Nichols and Memphis-based Lucero, we may not be experiencing the Renaissance of songwriting we’re seeing breaking out across stages coast to coast from country and Americana artists. Some of today’s big-named songwriters may be currently touching the edges of the mainstream, but Lucero was the prototype—one of the first to breed earnestness with the Southern experience in songs for the modern era.
Now celebrating 20 years hacking away at blending country, punk, soul, blues, and R&B smothered in Memphis gravy, the band is readying the release of their latest studio album, Among The Ghosts via Thirty Tigers. Co-produced and engineered by Grammy Award winner Matt Ross-Spang known for his work with Jason Isbell and the Drive-By Truckers, it features 9 new songs and a re-recording written by Ben Nichols, and was recorded at Sam Phillips Recording Service in Memphis. (read more)
Other Confirmed Releases
Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore – Downey to Lubbock – June 1st
David Davis & The Warrior River Boys – Didn’t He Ramble: Songs of Charlie Poole – June 1st
Oliver The Crow – Self-Titled – June 1st
Brother Dege – Farmer’s Almanac – June 1st
Nicki Bluhm – To Rise You Gotta Fall – June 1st
Phil Cook – People Are My Drug – June 1st
Chuck Westmoreland – Long Winter Rodeo – June 1st
No Dry County – Panhandle Music – June 8th
Dierks Bentley – The Mountain – June 8th
Mike Aiken – Wayward Troubadour – June 8th
Erin Rae – Putting On Airs – June 8th
Jesse Dayton – The Outsider – June 8th
Liz Frame and the Kickers – Sparrow in a Shoebox – June 8th
Robby Hecht & Caroline Spence – Two People – June 8th
David Starr – South and West – June 8th
Sarah Patrick – The Woman I Am – June 15th
The Mallett Brothers Band – Vive L’Acadie – June 15th
The Slocan Ramblers – Queen City Jubilee – June 15th
Gene Clark – Gene Clark Sings For You- June 15th – Omnivore Reissue with never-before-heard tracks
Paul Cauthen – Have Mercy EP – June 22nd
Lera Lynn – Plays Well with Others – June 22nd – Duets Album
Oliver The Crow – Self-Titled – June 22nd
Birdtalker – One – June 22nd
Roanoke – Where I Roam – June 22nd
Priscilla Renea – Coloured – June 22nd
Jeffrey Foucault – Blood Brothers – June 22nd
The Wild Feathers – Greeting from the Neon Frontier – June 29th
Milk Carton Kids – All The Things I Did, and All The Things I Didn’t Do – June 29th
Sons Of Bill – Oh God Ma’Am’ – June 29th
Ric Robertson – The Fool, The Friend – June 29th
Ben Bostick – Hellfire – June 29th
Kittel & Co. – Whorls – June 29th
Frank Newsome – Gone Away With a Friend – June 29th – Ralph Stanley’s Preacher
I See Hawks in LA – Live and Never Learn – June 29th
The Nude Party – Self-Titled – July 6th
Speedbuggy USA – Kick Out The Twang – July 6th
Carolina Story – Lay Your Head Down – July 13th
Cowboy Junkies – All That Reckoning – July 13th
The Jayhawks – Back Roads and Abandoned Motels – July 13th
Cliff Westfall – Baby You Win – July 13th
Kate Vargas – For The Wolfish and Wondering – July 27th
Drew Moreland – Self-Titled – August 1st
Amanda Shires – To The Sunset – August 3rd
Kevin Galloway – The Change – August 3rd – Frontman of Uncle Lucius
Carrie Underwood – Cry Pretty – September 14th
The Rumor Mill
Whitey Morgan made a trip out to the Sonic Ranch late last year (which his last record was named after), and his new record is mixed, mastered, and ready to be released. We’re just waiting on a proper release date that could be announced any day.
The Randy Rogers Band will have a 2018 released produced by Dave Cobb. Stay Tuned.
Kristina Murray is a name that has been on Saving Country Music’s watch list for a long time. Her song “How Tall The Glass” released in 2017 is excellent, and it’s anticipated she will release a new album in 2018.
Alejandro Escovedo has signed with Yep Roc Records. Expect a new album in 2018.
Michaela Anne has been recording in California with Sam Outlaw as a producer. Expect more news soon.
Sam Outlaw has also been recording his own album in California.
Pistol Annies rumors continue to swirl on social media. Expect information on a new album sooner than later.
Ben Haggard‘s long-awaited debut album could be on the way in the 2nd half of 2018. Don’t be surprised if a famous name is tied to the release from Merle’s son.
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.’”
Jamie Lin Wilson has been running a crowdfunding campaign, and should have a new album coming soon.
Koe Wetzel – New album summer 2018.
Aaron Watson was saying earlier this year that he was 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 via Last Chance Records, and then a new studio album called Immortal Americans that he was recently recording with producer Steve Albini in Chicago.
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.
Alan Jackson released a new song in 2017 “The Older I Get” ahead of an anticipated 2018 release, but so far we haven’t heard any more.
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, 2017, 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.
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.”
Julie Roberts has been working on a new album produced by Shooter Jennings called “I Think You Know.” No release date yet.
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.”
Chris Hennessee should have a new album in June . “Wrong End of the Rainbow” with Jamey Johnson was recently released as a lead single.
Dirty River Boys – “Late summer/early fall”
Jason Isbell said on May 16th via the “Laurel vs. Yanny” debate, “Thank god Dave Cobb heard the same thing I heard because we’re mixing right now.”
The Black Lillies are expected to have a new album out in the fall after revamping their lineup recently.