2020 is not done just yet offering up country and roots music worthy of listening to, and perhaps some of the projects we’ll regard as the best all year once late December rolls around. So just to make sure you don’t miss anything, here are some of Saving Country Music’s top recommendations for the final portion of 2020, including a list of ALL the albums “on the radar” in the country and roots realm, and the always-fun rumor mill where hints and allegations thrive.
As you can see, with COVID-19 putting a damper on music production, the options appear a little thinner than normal in regards to volume. But that doesn’t mean there’s not some good selections out there to be found.
Hint: Bookmark this page, and come back on Fridays to make sure you don’t miss anything important. This list will be updated periodically under the “confirmed releases” heading when new albums are announced, though older albums won’t be removed from the list so people can look back at what they might have missed.
PLEASE NOTE: No artist or album was overlooked, snubbed, or disregarded here. If you know of an album that is going to be released that you believe is of interest to country and roots music, please feel free to share the information below in the comments section for the benefit of everyone.
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Brent Cobb – Keep ‘Em on They Toes – October 2nd
“’Keep ‘Em on They Toes’ is a mantra that I live by,” says Brent Cobb. “One that I hope anyone could live by. If it’s good for your own heart, and you got a good heart, do it. Do it whether folks see it coming or not.”
“To me, listening to this album feels like I’m sitting there with somebody, having a conversation. I would hope that it feels like sitting with an old friend you haven’t seen in a while. There’s nothing like being alone and listening to an album that is quiet and conversational—like those old records by Jerry Lee Lewis, Roger Miller, or Willie Nelson. I hope my music is that way to somebody now.”
Produced by Brad Cook, it’s Brent Cobb’s first record after moving on from cousin Dave Cobb’s imprint Low Country Sound on Elektra. Brent is now working with Thirty Tigers and his own label called Ol’ Buddy Records. (read more)
Brothers Osborne – Skeletons – October 9th
“If ‘Pawn Shop’ was our introduction, and ‘Port Saint Joe’ was like the first conversation we had with someone over a beer, then ‘Skeletons’ is the moment where you start getting down to the real stuff and showing who you really are,” says John Osborne. “If you really want to get to know us, this is the record to do it.”
Get ready once again for a more country rock sound from the brother duo since they’re pairing with producer Jay Joyce once more, and there’s also some interesting names that show up in the songwriting credits such as Hayes Carll and Natalie Hemby. John and TJ Osborne either write or co-write every track on the record, with John earning sole writing credits on a couple of songs. (read more)
Yellow Rose (Film & Soundtrack) co-starring Dale Watson – October 9th
A film co-starring Dale Watson about a 17-year-old Filipino girl with dreams of making it big in country music will finally be making it’s theatrical debut in over 800 theaters on October 9th. Directed by Filipino-American Diane Paragas and distributed by Sony Pictures, the film has already received some 13 awards, and currently holds an 8.67 out of 10 rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Rose Garcia (played by Eva Noblezada) is a sensitive, introspective girl who is teased as “Yellow Rose” for her Filipino heritage mixed with her love of all things traditional country music. Rose Garcia finds solace in the music, and spends her nights studying classic country, practicing guitar, and writing country songs. (read more)
Tanya Tucker- Live from the Troubadour – October 16th
To be released on the one-year anniversary of the show itself, Live From The Troubadour captures country legend Tanya Tucker in Los Angeles in the midst of her recent resurgence, reprising some of her biggest hits such as “Delta Dawn” and “Strong Enough to Bend,” while also launching into cover songs such as Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire.”
“There are so many people and places hurting right now, and for me, being on the road since I was a kid and knowing these legendary venues like the Troubadour aren’t bringing in a dime right now without performances, it just makes sense to give back. I can’t be with the fans, so this is my love letter to them, a live album with some of those old records, and our new songs from While I’m Livin’,” says Tanya Tucker.
William Elliot Whitmore – I’m With You – October 16th
Before the recent emergence of throwback folk country blues performers such as Colter Wall and Ian Noe, William Elliott Whitmore was one of the originals to hit the open road as a one man band with a bass drum and an arsenal of stringed instruments, singing his heart out in a billowy low register that awakened the ghosts of American music’s past. Since he was too folk for country, and too blues for folk, Whitmore often found himself opening for punk bands, and spreading the roots music gospel to new converts.
The debut song Whitmore has released from the record called “My Mind Can Be Cruel To Me” has a much more country heart than most of his previous material, and finds Whitmore singing in a slightly higher register than some of his blues and folk stuff. Fans are said to also expect plenty of William’s darkish folks song from behind the guitar and banjo as well, along with more “twangy, punked-up country” in another song called “Black Iowa Dirt.” (read more)
Rachel Brooke – The Loneliness in Me – October 23rd
The Queen of Underground Country is back in all of her glory with her first solo effort in eight years, and if the early singles from the record are any indication, it’s cool, it’s country, and it includes that little tinge of Gothic darkness that makes Rachel Brooke unique in the country realm.
After many personal developments including becoming a mother and losing her musician father, Rachel Brooks ready to put all that life experience into 12 news songs co-written with husband Brooks Robbins, and recorded in her native Michigan. The album includes Dave Feeny on pedal steel guitar, known for playing on Loretta Lynn’s Van Lear Rose.
David Quinn – Letting Go – October 23rd
David Quinn impressed us with his debut album Wanderin’ Fool in 2019, and now he’s back with a new one that utilizes Laur Joamets on guitar (Sturgill Simpson, Drivin’ & Cryin’), as well as steel guitar player Smokin’ Brett Resnick, and members of Margo Prices backing band in a new record, Letting Go.
Quinn says chemistry was key to the record. “I’ve been playing three or four shows a week, so I’ve been playing these songs a lot. I knew pretty much how I wanted them to sound. So we tried to work quickly. I hate getting wrapped up in perfect—doing a bunch of takes and punch-ins. I’m just not interested in that, at all. I want to capture the sound of a band.”
Josh Abbott Band – The Highway Kind – November 13th
After spending three months in Nashville co-writing, the Texas native took ten songs to the famous Sonic Ranch recording studio outside of El Paso and recorded his latest record The Highway Kind with producer Marshall Altman.
“’The Highway Kind’ is the album I wish we had put out seven years ago. The lyrics, the melodies, the subtle touches; this album is the very best effort from our group. These songs were brought to life and curated to reflect where my life is now: happy, fulfilled, blessed. From love songs to songs about friendship, from ballads to bangers, this album has it all. They’re true-life songs. I hope people listen to this record and go, ‘Man, Josh is in a really good place around now.’”
Chris Stapleton – Starting Over – November 13th
The new record will include 14 new songs, 11 of which Stapleton wrote or co-wrote himself, along with a few notable covers, specifically John Fogerty’s “Joy of My Life,” and two covers of Guy Clark songs—“Worry B Gone” and “Old Friends.” Also interesting to note from the track list is that two songs Stapleton had been regularly featuring in concert lately don’t make the cut—namely one called “Bad Side of The Blood,” and a bluesy song called “Minimum Wage” co-written with Mike Campbell of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers fame.
However Mike Campbell did make the list of special guest musicians appearing on the record, as did fellow Heartbreaker Benmont Tench on Hammond B3 organ, along steel guitar legend Paul Franklin, and the “All Voices Choir” appearing on the song “Watch You Burn,” which was the backdrop for the recorded recent teaser video. They will join the core of Stapleton’s recording and touring crew of J.T. Cure on bass, Derek Mixon on drums, and Morgane Stapleton on background vocals and tambourine. (read more)
Sunny Sweeney – Recorded Live at the Machine Shop – November 13th
Sunny Sweeny has long been respected as a singer and a songwriter in country music. But over the last few years after she gave up on Nashville and returned back to Texas, she has become one of country music’s most hard-working road dogs, rebuilding her career from the ground up via playing venues big and small, and developing strong grass roots.
COVID-19 has meant Sunny Sweeny and her excellent road band have had to cease touring, but this recording taken from a live stream that was remixed and mastered will tide over fans until Sunny can get back out on the road once more.
Travis Tritt – TBA – TBA
A new original studio album is on the way from Travis Tritt, finally. His first original album in 13 years, the 90’s country legend who’s sold more than 30 million records worldwide signed with the Los Angeles-based record label Big Noise earlier this year, and will be releasing a Dave Cobb produced record sometime in 2020. He just released the first single “Ghost Town Nation.”
“I’m very excited about recording the new album with Dave Cobb,” Travis Tritt says. “I’m also glad to be partnering with the Big Noise team and I’m looking forward to promoting this album with them in my corner.”
OTHER CONFIRMED RELEASES
Tennessee Stiffs – Raise The Tide EP – October 1st
Dave Hardin – Hangfires – October 1st
Chris Smither – More from the Levee – October 2nd
C. Albert Blomquist – Self-Titled – October 2nd
Bill Brimer – A Genealogy of Ghosts – October 2nd
The Onlies – Self-Titled – October 2nd
The Jensen Sisters – Yellow Frames – October 2nd
49 Winchester – III – October 2nd
Jackson Emmer – Alpine Coda – October 2nd
Andrew Farriss – Love Makes The World EP – October 2nd
David Adam Byrnes – Neon Town – October 2nd
Ned Hill – The Light of the Radio – October 2nd
Jon Pardi – Heartache Medication Deluxe Edition – October 2nd
Bonnie Whitmore – Last Will and Testament – October 2nd
Jon Snodgrass – Tace – October 9th
Darlingside – Fish Pond Fish – October 9th
Suzi Ragsdale – Ghost Town EP – October 9th
Izzy Heltai – Father – October 9th
Great Peacock – Forever Worse Better – October 9th
EZ Shakes – The Spirit – October 9th
The Bodarks – Side Effects – October 10th
Hill Country Revival – Self-Titled EP – October 15th
Jerry Castle – Midnight Testaments – October 16th
Tom Galloway – Rearview EP – October 16th
Chuck Leah – Band of Ghosts – October 16th
Cordovas – Destiny Hotel – October 16th
Angus Gill & Seasons of Change – 3-Minute Movies – October 16th
James Coates – One Last Ride – October 16th
Jeremy Ivey – Waiting Out The Storm – October 16th
Malin Pettersen – Wildhorse – October 16th
Tyler Ramsey – Found a Picture of You EP – October 16th
Mink’s Miracle Medicine – Thumbs Up Angel – October 16th
Mipso – Self-Titled – October 16th
Allman Brothers Band – The Best Show You Never Heard (Live) – October 16th
James Ellis – Country Lion – October 16th
Jamie O’Neal – Sometimes – October 16th
Parker McCollum – Hollywood Gold EP – October 16th
Trace Adkins – Ain’t That Kind of Cowboy EP – October 16th
The Mastersons – Red, White, & I Love You Too EP – October 16th
The Mountain Minor Motion Picture Soundtrack – October 16th
Steep Canyon Rangers – Arm in Arm – October 16th
Matt Eckstine – Lil Blue – October 16th
Tom Petty – Wildflowers & All The Rest – October 16th
Tejon Street Corner Thieves – The Monarch Sessions EP – October 16th
Drew Parker – While Your Gone – October 21st
South For Winter – Luxumbra – October 22nd
Northcote – Let Me Roar – October 23rd
Terry McBride – Rebels & Angels – October 23rd
Gavin Powell – Self-Titled – October 23rd
Kendall Street Company – The Stories We Write For Ourselves – October 23rd
Darrell Scott – Jaroso – October 23rd
Will Kimbrough – Spring Break (Acoustic) – October 23rd
Northcote – Let Me Roar – October 23rd
Luke Combs – What You See Ain’t Always What You Get (Deluxe Edition) – October 23rd
Raye Zaragoza – Women in Color – October 23rd
Ruby Mack – Devil Told Me – October 23rd
Paul Nelson – Birmingham Woman – October 23rd
Rick Shea – Love & Desperation – October 23rd
Teagan Stewart – Taste of My Heartbreak EP – October 23rd
3 Women: Original Songs from the Motion Picture – October 23rd
Tom Hammel – Steelin’ Crazy Rhythm (Instrumental) – October 26th
Mike Lowry – Holding It Together EP – October 30th
Sam Morrow – Gettin’ By On Gettin’ Down – October 30th
Austin Lucas – Alive in the Hot Zone – October 30th
Sally & George – Take You On A Ride – October 30th
Andrew Grimm – A Little Heat – October 30th
Cam – The Otherside – October 30th
Wynonna Judd – Recollections EP – October 30th
Graber Gryass – Late Bloom – October 30th
Miko Marks – Our Country – October 30th
F. Scott and the Nighthawks – Straight To Heaven EP – October 30th
Adam Hurt – Back to the Earth – November 13th
Royce Johns – One Last Two Step – November 1st
Larry Keel – American Dream – November 6th
The Sensational Country Blues Wonders – The World Will Break Your Heart – November 13th
Wayne Graham – 1% Juice – November 13th
Randall Bramblett – Pine Needle Fire – November 13th
Last Year’s Man – Brave The Storm – November 13th
Shenandoah – Every Road – November 13th
Spencer Cullum – Spencer Cullum’s Coin Collection – November 13th
Johnny Cash and The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – November 13th
The Piedmont Boys – Almost Home – November 13th
TOWNE – In The In Between – November 13th
The Wild Feathers – Medium Rarities (B-Sides) – November 20th
The Suitcase Junket – The End Is New – November 20th
Ward Davis – Black Cats and Crows – November 20th
Ida Mae – Raining For You – November 20th
Paul Bogart – Won’t Have Far to Go – November 20th
The Steel Wheels – Everyone A Song Vol. One – November 20th
Dave Alvin – From An Old Guitar: Rare and Unreleased Recordings – November 20th
Bo Armstrong – Chasing Ballads – November 24th
The Next Waltz Vol. 3 Compilation – November 27th
The Next Waltz Vol. 3 – November 27th
Lee Brice – Hey World – November 28th
George Shingleton – Out All Nighter – December 4th
Kacy & Clayton and Marlon Williams – Plastic Bouquet – December 11th
Misty River – Promises – January 22nd
THE RUMOR MILL
Steve Earle and The Dukes will be releasing a tribute album to Steve’s late son, Justin Townes Earle, who passed away in August. No further details at the moment, aside from a likely release date in early 2021 (read more).
Zach Bryan says he has an EP of material he recorded at RCA Studio A in Nashville that consists of the songs “Dear Jordan (Get Out Alive),” “Let You Down,” “Wild One,” and “Hell or Highwater.”
Word is Aaron Watson may have two records in 2021, with the first arriving in January.
Cody Jinks says he has an acoustic album, a live Red Rocks album, another live album, a Lefty Frizzell covers album, a rock EP, potentially a Christmas record, and other stuff on the way. (read more)
Sarah Shook said on October 23rd, 2018 via social media, “Let it be known we are officially rehearsing for the next rekkid and we def gonna blow some minds bbs…”
Expect news on a new Ward Davis album coming from Thirty Tigers very soon.
Robert Earl Reynolds formerly of The Mavericks is working on a solo record that may be available by late November.
Zephaniah OHora says he’s going to have a couple of exclusive new songs being released on Bandcamp in November.
Shelby Lee Lowe is prepping a new album called Something In Me.
Joe Nichols says he’s got a new traditional country record on the way.
Randall King has signed with Warner Nashville and released a couple of new singles. Expect the announcement on a major label debut to come soon. (read more)
Jessi Colter has a new album on the way produced by Margo Price. They were in the studio together in May 2019.
Sierra Ferrell has signed to Rounder Records, and if and when she announces a new album, it will immediately rocket to the top of the “most anticipated” heap. (read more)
George Jones recordings that were once used as bail collateral by two drug dealers are finally having the legal entanglements resolved, and could be coming to the public. (read more)
Dwight Yoakam dropped two new songs in May of 2018, but no word if a new album to accompany them will be forthcoming.
Alan Jackson also released a new song “The Older I Get” in 2018, but no new news on a new record.
Sturgill Simpson has recorded a bluegrass album covering many of his biggest songs. No release date or further details just yet.
New Pat Reedy album called Make It Back Home coming. No release date yet.
The Shootouts recently recorded a song with Dale Watson at his home studio in Memphis, and a full album in Nashville with Chuck Mead producing. Album release late 2020 or early 2021.
James McMurtry has signed to New West Records. New record coming.
Joe Buck Yourself has re-emerged after a couple of years off the road, and says he has a new album on the way. (read more)