Saving Country Music’s 50 Essential Albums for 2014
In 2014, Saving Country Music reviewed more albums than ever before, and correspondingly the much-anticipated Essential Albums list has also been expanded all the way to the half century mark. Yes, there are still some album that were reviewed or not reviewed that are still worthy of acclaim, but as with all things, a line must be drawn somewhere. You are encouraged to leave your thoughts on what albums you feel were essential from 2014 below.
Also, since no significant mainstream project made any of this year’s end-of-year’s lists, Saving Country Music intends to post a separate list highlighting some of the best of the mainstream in 2014.
PLEASE NOTE: This list only includes albums that have been reviewed so far. There are a more good and important albums from 2014 that have yet to be reviewed, and that will hopefully be reviewed shortly and added to this list if deemed fit.
PLEASE NOTE: None of the Album of the Year Nominees are included on this list, so look over there before complaining about omissions. After the first 5 albums considered the “Most Essential,” the albums are listed mostly in the order the albums were reviewed, not in order based on recommendation/quality/etc.
MOST ESSENTIAL – Doug Seegers – Going Down to the River
Of course Doug Seegers was a homeless man living on the streets, because that’s about the assessment of value American society has placed upon the classic style of country music.
It very well may be true that Doug Seeger’s story could be anyone’s, and that you could crash the streets of Nashville, Austin, New York, or Los Angeles, and put together an entire roster of remarkable talent that is currently sleeping on the streets, as even more worthy musicians sit teetering on the brink of homelessness themselves because they’ve been overlooked by the industry. But that doesn’t make Doug Seeger’s talent any less worthy of being singled out as it has, and as Going Down To The River attests, any and all praise Seegers has been showered with over the last six months and counting is worthy and warranted. (read full review)
MOST ESSENTIAL – Kelsey Waldon – The Gold Mine
This petite little native Kentuckian rears back and gives you twelve new original songs on her album The Gold Mine that rivals most any other batch of tunes from any other female or male for that matter from this calendar year. Strikingly traditional, yet still fresh feeling with enough evolved moments to be connected to the current mood, The Gold Mine is a boon of audio treasures mined from the great American music unknown.
It may seem almost intimidating to navigate through all the worthy female country and roots artists you can resign your music time to these days. But if your leanings are more towards traditional country, Kelsey Waldon and The Gold Mine aren’t just the perfect starting point, they’re the current apex. (read full review)
MOST ESSENTIAL – Luke Bell- Don’t Mind If I Do
Luke Bell is all peeling paint, and plaid jackets that smell like old men. He won’t wow you with his originality, but his authentic interpretation of classic country sounds and modes is uncanny. This is one of those albums that right after you push play, you find yourself saying, “Yes, this is what I’m talking about.”
Luke Bell and Don’t Mind If I Do prove that no matter what dispersions they may cast under the name of country music, no matter how many cool old building they may bulldoze, no matter how many traditions they may burn, and no matter how many times they try to tell you classic country is no longer relevant, it will always remain alive, harbored in the hearts of its six string-toting, singing shepherds, and the crowds that gather to hear them. (read full review)
MOST ESSENTIAL – Jason Eady – Daylight & Dark
If you were asked to populate a list of current country music artists that with no frills and no variations lay down country music as country music was meant to be, Jason Eady would very have to be at or near the top of your list. And if you found yourself beset on all sides by ravenous legions of flesh-eating pop country music fans whose only bane was the authentic sound of true country music being blared in their general direction, Daylight & Dark just might be your ideal go to to win your ultimate escape.
Sure, when you get this deep into the essence of true country music, you’re going to leave some folks behind. But Daylight & Dark isn’t for them, it’s for the folks that were left behind by what they now call country music many years ago. (read full review)
MOST ESSENTIAL – Joseph Huber – The Hanging Road
Huber was known for his breakneck banjo and as one of the primary songwriters for the .357 String Band, but when he went the solo route, suddenly his deftness as a composer shined through with such blinding insight and poetry, he abruptly elevated himself from a superstar picker with some cool songs to something worthy of great acclaim.
Joesph’s third album The Hanging Road is his most ambitious release yet, heavy with musical mastery and weighty themes, bred from the fiddle that Joseph Huber has shown favor to recently. The Hanging Road is an exposition of Huber’s multi-talented musical skill set, engaging and vibrant, yet humble and rootsy as he takes his country, folk, bluegrass and blues influences into heavy account. (see album premier)
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***REMEMBER: Album of the Year Candidates are not included on this list***
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Willie Nelson – Band of Brothers
Let’s face it. Willie Nelson could take his sweaty, old man-smelling headband off, slingshot it out to center stage, and it would still be more enriching than what most of modern country radio has to offer. Simply the tone of his voice immediately puts the inertia of nearly a century of noble contributions to country music behind whatever he does. A few plucks of his guitar “Trigger,” and the woody tones can can make you break out in bone-deep shivers. Just the visage of Willie the Pocahontas braids and the folds of wisdom feathered by white whiskers enveloping one of the world’s most respected faces commands immediate reverence, and a warm feeling usually reserved only for the proximity of close family. (read full review)
Whitey Morgan – Born, Raised & LIVE in Flint
Born, Raised, & LIVE From Flint captures a well-seasoned 78”²s band with a couple of extra pieces like harmonica and organ/piano for good measure reprising Whitey’s most popular songs with a live energy any studio effort just can’t match. Along with being a live album, you could also consider this a Greatest Hits package from the first half decade-plus of the band.
The fact that Whitey Morgan & The 78”²s are good live is one of the reasons they could go darn near half a decade now without releasing any new music, yet still build up their legacy and fan base to the point where they’ve never been bigger. Born, Raised, & LIVE gives hardcore Whitey fans a home version of the madness and magic that sets the hair of honky-tonk crowds on fire all across the country and beyond. (read full review)
Arlo McKinley – Arlo McKinley & The Lonesome Sound
Unless you’re clued into the right sectors of the Cincinnati music scene, his name is likely one of a stranger. But just as music worth hearing tends to do, it has slowly been bubbling up from word of mouth until some of those mouths have begun to speak about this record as one of the best music offerings all year.
McKinley’s ear for matching emotion with sound is quite skilled. Even the more upbeat-sounding numbers like “Don’t Need to Know” or the pounding final track “Dark Side of the Street” deliver a bravely vulnerable and depressing account of the life and times of this adept Ohio songwriter. It takes courage to unburden your soul and air your personal frailties in the way Arlo McKinley has done in this album, and it takes insight and study to do it in a way that sounds so so good. (read full review)
Adam Hood – Welcome to the Big World
Adam Hood did his time on big stages, gave his shot to Nashville where he still haunts songwriting rounds with some of his friends, and his mark will forever be left on the music even if his pen fell silent tomorrow. But now he seems content with the world and his place in it.
It was a random performance at the Tavern In The Gruene that landed Adam Hood on the greater country music map, but the songwriter never left the spirit of the intimate performance and the conveyance of a personal feeling that spoke to Miranda Lambert that night, and still rings pure and potent in the 11 tracks of Welcome to the Big World. (read full review)
Wade Bowen – Wade Bowen
Ahead of this self-titled release, the buzz was immense. There was a sense this wasn’t going to be simply another Wade Bowen album that his experiences of the last few years helped Wade see himself for who he really is, instead of who everyone else wants him to be. Two songs in, and this album already delivers on any promises and expectations preceding it.
Releasing a self-titled album seven albums deep into your career is making a statement. “This is me,” Wade Bowen is saying, and with a cadre of great songs turned in on this album, “me” in regards to Wade Bowen is something worth listening to. (read full review)
Those Poor Bastards – Vicious Losers
Imagine condensing the dark sentiments from all of the early country pioneers together, and adding a few new methods of composition and sound from more modern apparitions such as Tom Waits and Nick Cave, and you have a sound that however niche it might be, has cast a wide net of loyal parishioners all over the world who collect Those Poor Bastards’ short run colored vinyl projects and pour over their artistically-oriented music as fine art, no matter how hauntingly it may screech and moan to get its dreadful point across.
Words and textures are one in the same with Those Poor Bastards, and one thing Lonesome Wyatt can never get enough credit for is his prowess as a vocalist that is virtually unparalleled in conveying mood and character with such range. (read full review)
Stoney LaRue – Aviator
With his new album Aviator, you not only get that great, signature Stoney LaRue sound, you get it with Stoney and all the involved parties buying in by not just showing confidence, but even showing a little boldness and willingness to do some things a little offbeat, run some songs together and carry others out a little longer than they should be, and this all results in that enriching Stoney LaRue mood becoming even more enhanced.
Aviator is one of those albums that defines a career when many of the Red Dirt originators are growing long in the tooth, and a lot of Texas country headliners are letting the Nashville influence seep in a little too much. (read full review)
Eliot Bronson – Eliot Bronson
This is the type of album we wished all our favorite old songwriters would make again. This is the type of album that made us first love all of those old songwriters.
You get the sense listening to this album that Eliot Bronson is not just releasing his latest album, but the one he sacrificed pieces of his soul to make. This is “the one” so to speak, and that sense of purpose, if not desperation and pent up frustrations at being a 30-something songwriter still struggling to find his place and the proper attention from the public results in a passion that is palpable, and music that is memorable. (read full review)
Shakey Graves – And The War Came
How to evolve into a full band setting while still holding onto what won you such rabid grassroots support was the precarious challenge Shakey Graves was asked to pull off with this new Dualtone release And The War Came, and it’s what he accomplishes with such alacrity, the listener remains delightfully unaware any such challenge even existed. You’re simply listening to Shakey Graves blossom from an obscure one man band for people in the know, to an artist worthy of a wide ear who could and should help define what the vanguard of roots music is in 2014.
And The War Came is tell tale folk wayfaring blues with a dash of country roots, but like all artists who in turn help define their epoch in music, Shakey Graves elevates himself beyond definition. (read full review)
JP Harris & The Tough Choices – Home Is Where The Hurt Is
If you’re looking for a brand of country music that is country and country only, not country rock, country punk, “evolved” country, alt-country or Americana, then J.P. Harris & The Tough Choices just might be right in your wheelhouse. J.P. lets it be known he’d rather you leave your hyphenated country labels and long-winded qualifiers clear of what he does. And when you listen to his music, that’s exactly what you get: country music as the original concept of what the term “country” implies with very little wiggle room.
“For the last 50 years in American history, country music is the one thing that is universally identifiable as an American soundtrack, as an American kind of music. More than any other type of exclusively American music old rock and roll, old black blues, old-time bluegrass or fiddle music I think that country music more broadly represents a bigger segment of people in America. Keeping that tradition alive and seeing that country music has played an amazing role in unifying different segments politically and culturally of American people, it’s worth fighting to keep that identifiable.” (read JP Harris Interview)
Marty Stuart – Saturday Night / Sunday Morning
I don’t know how Marty Stuart does it. He’s like Gandalf on the back of his white steed, galloping here and there and everywhere in his pursuit to save country music. He’s scouring the country to secure important country music artifacts for preservation. He’s opening a cultural center in his hometown. He’s starring in The Marty Stuart Show and touring constantly. And here he is releasing a double album through his Superlatone record label.
Once again Marty Stuart and the Fabulous Superlatives prove they are at the core of keeping the traditions of country music alive, while doing so in a manner that is energetic, inviting, informed, and broad-based where people of all stripes the Saturday night and Sunday morning people can come together and enjoy the gift of good country music together. (read full review)
Sweet GA Brown – Wordsmith
Sweet GA Brown is the real deal when it comes to songwriters sweating under a blue collar all day to earn the right to sing in swill joints at night. His music emanates from the small town of Ringgold, GA just outside of Chattanooga; that’s the Georgia-Tennessee-Bama region that has seen the rise to other songwriters who like to cut their hard-hitting realism with humor like Roger Alan Wade.
Sweet GA Brown and Wordsmith are a pleasant surprise and shouldn’t be frowned upon because of somewhat crude production, potty mouth language, and religious leanings. Within this music is the message of living life with a grin on your face and kindness in your heart, and no matter what your stripes, that’s a message that can resonate with all of us. (read full review)
The Whiskey Shivers – The Whiskey Shivers
What the band was lacking heretofore was a really good record to represent the energy they ignite on stage for the folks who wanted to take the Whiskey Shivers home with them. The few homespun offerings available at the merch table over the years had a lot of spirit, but did not do their live show justice. So for this effort they solicited the services of rising Americana star Robert Ellis as a producer, and set out to make what they hoped to be their definitive studio album that would set them apart from the string band hordes. I’m happy to report this album does just that.
Taming the beast without destroying its wild wonder is what this self-titled LP accomplishes, and it should frame the Whiskey Shivers as one of the string bands worthy of more wide, national recognition as young band on the rise. (read full review)
Lee Ann Womack – The Way I’m Livin’
Lee Ann Womack has earned the listening public’s undivided attention already from her years of stellar contributions, but this one has a little more special meaning for Womack since it is her first release without a major label, and a release that helps rate of progress for both women and traditional country artists looking to revitalize their place to a wider audience.
There may be a few more albums that are better than The Way I’m Livin’ that will be released this year, but none that are this good that will reach as many ears. Lee Ann Womack is a heavyweight for women, for hard country, and now for independent artists, and with this Sugar Hill release she releases and lands a haymaker. (read full review)
Michael Goodman – Unbreakable Heart
Unbreakable Heart almost feels like two separate albums fashioned together. Though “rockabilly” may be the easy way to describe the one half, this album is a little less Brian Setzer and Reverend Horton Heat, and a little more Nick Curran and JD McPherson. But where Michael Goodman won over this critic was with his country fare. Coming at you hard and straight, this is traditional country music in every sense, yet approached with a freshness and enthusiasm so it doesn’t feel drabby or anachronistic.
Like walking into Sun Studios circa 1956, Michael Goodman and Unbreakable Heart take you back to a time when the music of American was uncorrupted, the sentiments were sincere, and the promise was unending. (read full review)
Otis Gibbs – Souvenirs of a Misspent Youth
A troubadour in every sense of the word, Otis Gibbs is an artist who can inspire even the most timid among us to shush a burly bar troll talking over one of his performances. This is music to lean in and listen to. This is music to get lost in as the lives of characters you’ve never heard of before become as intimate and familiar as family in the span of four minutes, until you find yourself weeping at their struggles, celebrating their victories, and worrying about their fate.
Otis Gibbs is a storyteller’s storyteller, and one that makes you see life unfurling in poetry and prose. He may never tell his stories to the wide masses, but the ones wise enough to lean in and listen will find riches and wisdom no man would ever dare lay a monetary value on. (read full review)
Justin Payne – No Place Lower Than High
From the fertile Outlaw country ground that comprises the hills and hollers of Boone County, West Virginia comes a homespun, but inspired and deftly-written insight into the American experience called No Place Lower Than High. Composed and performed by the virtual unknown singer and songwriter Justin Payne, this no budget project cut in a 100-year-old coal camp house is rough-hewn, scratchy, and sometimes hard to listen to through the production shortcomings. But hiding under all of the coal dust is a soul-bearing, bare-chested, and unfettered account of one man’s dreams and demons more than worthy of listening in on.
No Place Lower Than High is a superb underground gem sifted out of a mess of coal rubble, in an era when such discoveries seem much too far between. (read full review)
Cory Branan – The No-Hit Wonder
This is old school country rock at its finest, with exquisitely-crafted, cunning lyrical runs that make you laugh, amazing insight enhanced by brilliant timing and pentameter, and musical clothing that enhance each song’s strengths and endear them to the audience, pointing them the way to the album’s enjoyment.
This is the album Cory Branan needed to write, record, and release. Enough time had passed since his earlier works in the 00”²s, and a whole new crop of listeners have emerged for this type of music to where it was necessary to re-introduce himself to the musical world in a way that could open his entire body of work to a hungry audience always looking for new songwriters to sink themselves into. (read full review)
Ben Miller Band – Any Way, Shape, or Form
The Ben Miller Band from Joplin, Missouri is one of those bands, and they illustrate their prowess and commitment to the music in their new album on New West Records called Any Way, Shape, or Form. Procuring the foundation for their music from the pre-war and Delta blues, and jug and string bands of the deep South, their amorphous sound is like a seance for the creaky bones of past generations to animate back to life from the inalienable pull of an infectious groove.
The Ben Miller Band carves out a distinctive niche for themselves, and one that elevates them above the common, overdone ruts, while not traveling too far from the primal familiarity of roots music that makes it such an eternal gift. (read full review)
Billy Joe Shaver – Long In The Tooth
We have waited seven damn years for the 74-year-old to finally put out another album of original music, and Long In The Tooth is well worth the wait. The album finds Billy Joe Shaver sitting tall in the saddle, shouting and spitting, brandishing his fists and taking potshots, and shining in moments of unexpected sentimentality.
Blame the seven year hiatus for helping to refine his material, blame his immortal spirit that refuses to let him sit down, or blame the talent within him that appears to be bottomless. But at 74-years-old, Billy Joe Shaver is still schooling an army of artists who would love to label themselves Outlaws, but don’t have the acumen to truly understand what the word even means, let alone the skills to pull it off, or the history to back it up. (read full review)
Bradford Lee Folk – Somewhere Far Away
A simply-stated, wholesome, traditional yet original bluegrass album, Somewhere Far Away delves into the emotion-stirring exploration of melody like few other projects inside or out of the bluegrass world. Bradford’s voice is warm, soothing, and understated in a good way, never getting too exercised like the ideal voice of wisdom and reason, which is only fitting for the sage-like sentiments these songs convey. The high lonesome tone that seems as effortless as breath to Bradford evokes the majesty of wide vistas, stoking the imagination.
Somewhere Far Away may not win any grand accolades from the bluegrass circuit because it doesn’t represent an extreme of the discipline. But unlike some of the speed demons, compositional wizards, and purists setting the pace in bluegrass proper, it is simply a joy to listen to. (read full review)
Petunia & The Vipers – Inside of You
Hailing from high on the Western Hemisphere in Vancouver, British Columbia, Petunia & The Vipers shift from primitive country, to rockabilly, to jazz chording and Latin rhythms like they’re one in the same like a Canadian version of Wayne “The Train” Hancock with a sound that is completely original while still being referential to the better days of music.
Some bands and artists are so creative, their stories etch a tragedy of never finding the commercial recognition they deserve. Other artists must take their inspiration and interpret it to a more accessible audience. Petunia & The Vipers are one of these creative generators and innovators, and their music and moxy can be found defining the cutting edge of what is considered creative in country and roots today. (read full review)
Old Crow Medicine Show – Remedy
Old Crow Medicine Show is the band that showed up in Nashville and were able to maintain their true and original form of expression, and have it stick. The trendy string band craze of 2012 topped by Mumford & Sons came and went, and Old Crow Medicine Show is still here.
Somewhat predictable, but very enjoyable, Old Crow Medicine Show’s Remedy continues their reign as America’s preeminent string band, while ushering in a new era of success and recognition that will see the band go down in history as an important influence. (read full review)
Dale Watson – The Truckin’ Session Vol. 3
The key to a good truckin’ song is to not take it too seriously, to have fun with it, but to not be all ham and eggs either. Dale Watson finds that ideal balance on this 3rd installment, and beyond just being really damn fun to listen to, the album has some great variety of moods that do the legacy of the truckin’ song justice.
Should Dale Watson start to be considered for induction as a country truckin’ song overlord in the company of Dave Dudley, Dick Curless, and Red Sovine? They were the originators, but Dale is definitely making a strong case that he is the best modern day equivalent. Whether you want to buy the whole trilogy or just this installment is your truckin’ business. But if you’ve never listened to any of them, The Truckin’ Sessions Vol. 3 is definitely the place to start. (read full review)
Dex Romweber Duo – Images 13
Half the time you don’t know what the hell is going on, and that’s half the fun of it. Dex Romwever goes wherever his whimsy takes him, and with such a handsome tool chest of musical skills to call upon at any notice, and a music encyclopedia for a brain, he can. He’s like the American music version of silly putty. It’s the sound of America longing for a simpler past, and finding horror movies about haunted houses and flying saucers, sun-drenched beaches with dangerous undertows shaded through sepia tones, and Memphis sweat corroding the lacquer of catalog guitars.
It blows my mind any time I’m talking to a fellow music nerd and they give me a “Dex who?” But isn’t that always the way with the originators of a sound, especially ones whose influences are so varied as this one. (read full review)
Zoe Muth – World of Strangers
Like the faces of children, each song on World of Strangers has something hard not to be endeared to. The faraway cry of the steel guitar on the opening number “A Little Piece of History”, the empathetic character at the heart of “Mama Needs A Margarita”, the aching in “Annabelle”, the timelessness of “Waltz of the Wayward Wind”, and the story so easy to relate to in “What Did You Come Back Here For?”
World of Strangers does not grab you by the gruff and make you listen, it’s a creeper that burrows itself into your bones. It’s not a flood that comes crashing in with waves, it’s the one that rises unexpectedly until you’re knee deep. (read full review)
John Fullbright – Songs
For a 26-year-old who must feel the pressure of fulfilling the expectations his first album set, Fullbright is positively fearless in Songs. And in between the first, middle and last song of this album that sketch the moral arc of his intended message, he entertains with wistful mentions of love, and extended bouts of storytelling, built just as much upon piano and organ tone as it is guitar, and with generally sparse, but always ample and appropriate musical arrangements that achieve the goal of highlighting the words and little else.
With Songs, John Fullbright sets the standard by which all other songwriters will be measured by in 2014. (read full review)
Ags Connolly – How About Now
After studying and listening to country music for years, including a few forays over to the United States to see James Hand on his home soil, and even share the stage with Dale Watson at Austin’s famed Continental Club, Ags drew up the confidence to release his debut album How About Now.
Drop all the qualifiers, discounts, and rhetoric about origin, Ags Connolly deserves to be considered right beside his Stateside counterparts as one of the carriers of the country music holy ghost whose carefully-crafted songs can speak to the human heart universally, irrespective of borders. (read full review)
Willie Watson – Folk Singer Vol. 1
To become a solo artist, Willie Watson didn’t decide to create a more sensible approach, or learn how to be more personable and well-rounded as an entertainer. Instead he drew even further inward, took what he did and boiled it down even further to the kernel of his creative genius where he’s channeling with almost ghostly authenticity the very folk singers, country troubadours, and blues men he seeks to resurrect through his music. Stern faced and focused, he comes out and sings with such a fierceness, dedication and heart to the emotions and humanity behind the stories he’s singing about, I’ll be damned if Willie Watson doesn’t come across more like Woody Guthrie than Woody Guthrie. (read full review)
Nikki Lane – All or Nothin’
Getting the truth out of Nikki Lane isn’t something that needs to be coaxed. Whether it’s the surprising, if not shocking honesty of sinful behavior coming from a female voice evidenced in the songs “Right Time” and “Sleep With A Stranger”, or the vulnerability presented in “Good Man” or “Out Of My Mind”, you don’t have to squint to see that these songs are the truth through Nikki Lane’s eyes.
Nikki Lane is seesawing from one debilitating set of emotions to another, but always doing her best to translate and capture those emotions in songs to share with the rest of the world in a way that makes us both sympathize and share in those experiences, embellishing the rich textures of being alive. (read full review)
John Howie Jr. – Everything Except Goodbye
John Howie Jr. has always loomed large as a frontman and singer, but there’s a few tracks on Everything Except Goodbye where he figures out how to downright outdo himself. He simply sings the hell out of the songs on this album, testing his range and dexterity like never before, resulting in him really squeezing the true emotion out of the story and drawing your ear in.
John Howie Jr. & Rosewood Bluff really have the country music formula down of how to sound familiar, while still sounding fresh and original. A great country album. (read full review)
Doug Strahan – Coal Black Dreams & Late Night Schemes
Many try to resurrect that heroine sweat sound of the 70”²s. They throw reel to reel seances. They blow all manner of money on vintage gear. But I’ve never heard someone get so close to the true heart of that sound as Doug Strahan does on this album.
Maybe a little more classic rock than country for the most part, but still with some excellent country songs, Cold Black Dreams, Late Night Schemes has a little something for everyone ”¦ well except for those glow stick-twirling EDM freaks and Florida Georgia Line losers, but they can go suck black lemons; we like it loose and a little off-time, and that’s what Doug Strahan delivers with blurry-eyed beatnik coolness. (read full review)
Nickel Creek – A Dotted Line
A Dotted Line very much starts where Nickel Creek left off bravely challenging the conventions and boundaries of bluegrass with not just a progressive approach, but an aggressive approach that delivers thought-provoking composition and instrumentation, dazzling just as much from its acrobatic adeptness as it does from its infectiousness.
This is not an album to be heard, but listened to, and appreciated for its gilded, artistic merit more than it’s gritty authenticity. However by challenging the ear, Nickel Creek can also open the heart to new appreciations for music and composition in an era when commercial concerns often begrudge the brightest musicians of our time. (read full review)
The Secret Sisters – Put Your Needle Down
Their Southern harmonies were born with such a purity that can only be found in sister siblings. When The Secret Sisters harmonize, it is the sound a pining heart makes, or the sound emitted when a crack cleaves the soul. Or it’s the salve that mends the heart and soul, depending on the theme of the story their soaring voices carry.
T Bone Burnett’s production doesn’t seem to have any sense or respect for the time and place The Secret Sisters’ music naturally evokes; their music seems only the canvas for T Bone to do his worst. But damn if I don’t love virtually everything The Secret Sisters themselves do on this album. (read full review)
Bob Wayne – Back to the Camper
“Every record I’ve done so far I’ve been pretty happy with. This one has got a lot more story songs. It’s got a couple of hellraiser-type ‘yee-haw!’ songs. But I get a little bit more into my storytelling side. I spent a couple months at my property in Alabama, and I just sat by the fire with my banjo and guitar. I don’t know, the story songs were just really hitting me.
“Overall I’m super, super happy with how that all turned out. It has a different feel.”
Moot Davis – Goin’ In Hot
From shit kickers like the rousing “Midnight Train” or the Yoakam-like “Love Hangover”, to more somber, singer-songwriter tracks like “The Reason” that very easily could have been written by Merle Haggard, Moot grabs the country-leaning listener by the scruff right off the bat and pulls you into this album; steel guitar moaning and squalling high in the mix like Ralph Mooney, “Cousin” Kenny Vaughan (Marty Stuart’s guitar player) playing producer and putting his proven country music touch all over this record, and the sweet and talented Nikki Lane lending her voice to the effort in spots. they make a record that is both timeless and relevant, and satiates all sectors of your salivating country music palette. (read full review)
Johnny Cash – Out Among The Stars
Johnny Cash left music, and left the world behind at the top of his game, having been revitalized and resurrected in the public consciousness as the result of his American Recordings era, leaving the crowd wanting more as all great entertainers do. Though Out Among The Stars may not reach the high critical acclaim Cash set for himself in the last era of his career, it is a more than worthy offering allowing the Man in Black to once again live among us in our hearts and imaginations, leaving the listener ruminating on the historic accomplishments of a man whose musical accomplishments will never be equaled. (read full review)
The Urban Pioneers – Addicted to the Road
The key to the success of the Urban Pioneers project was their decision to take it in a primitive, old time country direction. It is perfect for the skills that Jared McGovern and Liz Sloan bring to the table, is complimentary of their strengths and weaknesses, while giving them the ability to mostly re-create what you hear on the album in the live context.
There’s a lot of Hackensaw Boys and Foghorn Stringband in the Urban Pioneers approach: authentic, energetic, while resisting the urge to pass completely into the punk roots realm. (read full review)
Red Eye Gravy – Dust Bowl Hangover
Destitution and heartbreak are the theme of Dust Bowl Hangover, however the music itself is a very enjoyable experience, with great melodies, catchy hooks, smart and engaging arrangements, and a remarkable amount of spice and variety in the instrumentation to really elevate this album to something much higher than the band’s humble, undiscovered status.
The greatest virtue of Dust Bowl Hangover is that if I was trying to lure an Americana listener into this album, I could pick out a couple of songs that would immediately speak to them. Same could be said for the cowpunk/hellbilly crowd, or for the folks whose hankering is for Texas country. (read full review)
Lake Street Dive – Bad Self Portraits
Lake Street Dive is a neotraditional, throwback group that blends elements of jazz, roots, Motown, and other smoke-filled, bluesy and soulful influences that both awaken the spirit in classic American music while still cleverly residing within its own little niche of the current zeitgeist.
The success and interest in Lake Street Dive means the looking back in music to times when music carried more meaning is still in full swing and continues to nip at the fringes of popular consciousness. Lake Street Dive is a classy, smart, yet accessible and fun band that will help instill a new measure of substance in American music at a time when it is most needed. (read full review)
Whiskey Myers – Early Morning Shakes
The band put out their first album in 2008 and have since become one of Southern rock’s most emboldened and energetic torch bearers, tearing it up across the country to packed houses of both country and rock fans.
With Early Morning Shakes, the now well-seasoned Whiskey Myers crew affirms themselves as one of the preeminent bands in Texas music and beyond.
Scott H. Biram – Nothin’ But Blood
The fried chicken-eating, truck-wrestling, twisted metal, wild-assed, guitar-plucking, gray-whiskered, screaming and shouting, foot stomping “Dirty ‘Ol One Man Band” known as Scott H. Biram is back with a brand new album called Nothin’ But Blood from Bloodshot Records, and it’s a shoot-a-belt-of-whiskey and run-buck-wild-in-the-woods kind of good time, followed by the old-school repentance and cool-minded reflections of a Sunday morning. It’s all porch picking and domestic disputes, flashing cop lights and shack shows deep in the woods. Bury your no good woman with a shovel, and then sing a gospel song as the human soul pinballs between good and evil in the ever-restless struggle of a man baptized in the blood of his own sins. (read full review)
Rosanne Cash – The River & The Thread
The River & The Thread is an album that was worth waiting for. Produced and co-written with Rosanne’s husband, accomplished musician John Leventhal, this album is exhaustive, thematic, all-encompassing, and compromises nothing when it comes to desiring the highest degree of quality in songwriting and production.
The beauty of this album is how it conveys with such reverence the spirit of the river region, with Rosanne’s birthplace of Memphis very much the fulcrum. The River & The Thread doesn’t discriminate in its description of human lives and the landscape in which they live amongst. They are all bound together into this universal body, connected by a cohesive filament sewn into the fabric of every life, artifact, and element, which in turn constitutes a tapestry that unfurls out like a linear story. (read full review)
Jackson Taylor & The Sinners – Live at Billy Bob’s
Jackson Taylor & The Sinners are the best hard-driving country band you’ve never heard of. How do I know you’ve never heard of them? Because nobody has, except for the people that have, and as those people can attest, nobody has heard of them.
Jackson Taylor is one of these guys you can’t take too seriously or you lose touch with the total enjoyment you can get from him, while at the same time he can be deceptively deep when you read between the lines, or when he performs a song like “Faulkner By Dashboard Lights” a true and personal track from Jackson and one of the standouts from the set. (read full review)
Ben Davenport Band – Slow Start
Ben Davenport’s album Slow Start feels like a victory. Reflecting back on a lifetime of memories, accomplishments, failures, and the fortunes and lessons that come with both, it is a self-critique and cathartic, fiercely personal, and an album you can tell Jim Yoss made for himself, be damned if anyone else likes it; a bookend on his life exposing vulnerability, toughness, honesty, and frailty an album he had to make so the next chapter in his life could begin.
This is a good one. (read full review)
Hurray For The Riff Raff – Small Town Heroes
December 9, 2014 @ 11:26 am
I personally liked Whitey Morgan, Lake Street Dive, and Adam Hood. Along with the usual’s of Cash and Willie.
Also Trig, have you checked out The Wind and The Wave? They released a great album that is worthy of this list IMO.
December 9, 2014 @ 11:47 am
I think I broadcast 16 of 50
December 9, 2014 @ 11:49 am
December 9, 2014 @ 12:09 pm
He is an Album of the Year candidate, so I did not include him or any of the other candidates on this list. This is about highlighting the other artists who put out great albums, and I didn’t want to take attention from them by highlighting the top tier albums once again.
December 9, 2014 @ 1:21 pm
So is Jim Lauderdale on your short list, or would that be telling? I’m A Song isn’t showy or concerned what people think; it’s that sly goodness of real country music.
December 9, 2014 @ 2:12 pm
All of the Album of the Year nominees I would consider to be on the short list, including “I’m A Song.” I agree it’s non showy nature has resulted in it going under the radar for many people, but I think it’s one of the best of 2014 for sure.
December 9, 2014 @ 2:41 pm
December 9, 2014 @ 11:50 am
Lexi Len and The Strangers
» Goin’ In Hot Makes Top 50 of 2014 Moot Davis
December 9, 2014 @ 11:58 am
[…] For the whole list check outÂ https://www.savingcountrymusic.com/saving-country-musics-50-essential-albums-for-2014 […]
December 9, 2014 @ 11:59 am
Great list, as always.
I know you had to cut it off somewhere, but I’d really encourage fans of mainstream-ish-sounding music with much more substance to check out Sundy Best’s “Bring Up the Sun”. Definitely one of the albums from this year that I will be listening to for years to come, and Trigger I appreciate you favorably reviewing it earlier in the year.
December 9, 2014 @ 12:06 pm
I have yet to listen to their new album but it is on the list. If I’d expanded this list to 55, they probably would have been on there.
December 9, 2014 @ 12:12 pm
Hey Trig, Have you listened to Jimmy Swope’s Wages of Sin recorded with Andy Gibson. I really enjoyed that album. Curious on your thoughts since I haven’t heard much talk about it.
December 9, 2014 @ 12:49 pm
Need to listen to it.
December 9, 2014 @ 1:15 pm
Wow! No Lydia Loveless? I find that to be quite shocking considering I’ve seen her album at the top of many lists (including my own).
This is a great collection of albums though. There’s still quite a few I gotta get my hands on.
December 9, 2014 @ 2:17 pm
Obviously when I put together this list and saw that Lydia Loveless had not made the cut, that this would be a point of controversy for some. If it would have been stretched out to 55 albums, she would have been here. But just like the college football playoffs, you have to draw the line somewhere, and invariably someone gets slighted. If I would have expanded it out to 60 albums, there would still be someone slighted, and the farther I go out, the more each artist included gets diminished with so many names.
I know there’s a lot of folks who believe Lydia is the best all year, and I respect that opinion. But I hold to my opinion for the album review that it’s a good, but under-developed album.
Also, Lydia Loveless fans should not gloss over that she’s up for SCM’s “Song of the Year,” and may even be considered a front runner.
December 9, 2014 @ 2:30 pm
I agree that a bigger list causes less of an impact for those involved. I hate being one of those people that comments about one of their favorite albums not making the cut but it seemed like a no-brainer to me for her to be included. I respect all of your choices as well. This situation seems to be a “to each, their own” kinda thing. There’s many other albums I think should have been included, but I’m not sure I have the authority to call them out since I have not heard all of the albums on the list yet. Lydia’s exclusion just stuck out to me.
December 9, 2014 @ 11:06 pm
The issue with Lydia is that much of her album is 80’s rock, not country. “Everything’s Gone”, however, is a superb country gem that hearkens back to the true spirit of the genre in its vivid portrayal of the struggles of regular people.
December 10, 2014 @ 10:29 am
I do have to agree that her album is not conventional country with only hints of it here and there, but it can easily be argued that various other albums on this list are even less country than Lydia’s. For example, Lake Street Dive’s record (which I loved and ranked #6 on my 2014 list) is far from country, but a excellent album nonetheless. All year-end lists are subjective and it’s nearly impossible to find one that identically matches your own. That’s the wonder and mystery in the art of music!
December 9, 2014 @ 1:16 pm
And 5 months later Petunia STILL isn’t available on iTunes!
Glad to see Luke Bell on here, probably top of the list for me.
December 9, 2014 @ 1:26 pm
Ronnie Fauss is an artist out of the Dallas area who just released his second album, “Built to Break.” The record was put out on Normal Town Record, which is connected with New West. I think the guy is great and he put out a solid follow-up to his debut record. It’s worth giving a listen to if he’s not on your radar.
December 9, 2014 @ 1:44 pm
I just got my copy a couple of days ago, and it’s one of those albums we’ll try to review before the end of the year.
December 9, 2014 @ 1:32 pm
December 9, 2014 @ 2:00 pm
I note JTE’s Single Mother’s isn’t on the list, and quite rightly so. It’s not great and I’m finding it hard to get excited about his new release in January. He’s really gone off the boil, hasn’t he? Quite disappointing.
December 9, 2014 @ 2:28 pm
I will give “Absent Fathers” a listen simply from the body of work Justin has put together, but I’d be lying if I said a companion to “Single Mothers” gets me much excited.
December 9, 2014 @ 8:33 pm
I disagree. I was disappointed upon my initial listen, but time has proven Single Mothers to be among my absolute favorites of 2014–country or otherwise. It goes down smoothly on late night drives.
December 10, 2014 @ 7:50 am
I’m in your camp. I would say I was slightly disappointed as the album is pretty much in the same style as “Neothing’s Gonna Change…” I personnally loved that album and my disappointment is just is that there isn’t much new here, except maybe a stronger steel guitar presence. Still, I think he does this style very well. I think I would have gone a quarter gun higher that Trigger and given this one 1.75 guns up. Picture in a Drawer is one of my favorite songs this year.
December 10, 2014 @ 7:51 pm
I bought this album off Amazon cause I really enjoy most of Justin’s other stuff. I have since deleted it entirely.
December 9, 2014 @ 2:46 pm
Good to see Jackson Effin’ Taylor & the Sinners on the list. Seeing them Sunday night. Happy birthday to me.
December 9, 2014 @ 3:34 pm
Great list sounds like another pretty solid year for real country! Ive picked up Willie and Johnny mostly cause their readily available where i live. After i replinish my cash after kids Christmas presents id love to add Marty Stuarts double album, Dale Watson, among others. Id say of all the picks i believe newcomer Justin Paynes album suprised me the most. Ive listened to it online and on some podcasts, its brilliant. I hope to listen to some more of these, Jason Eadys looks tempting.
December 9, 2014 @ 4:02 pm
great list. id really recommend strongly the Moot Davis album, doing New Jersey proud.
December 9, 2014 @ 4:03 pm
That about covers it. There’s only 5 albums on this list I haven’t listened to. Now that they have been reidentified, I’ll search them out. Only two artists will show up on my year’s end list that you haven’t covered on either SCM’s essentials or album of the year nominees – Joe Purdy and Drive-By Truckers. The latter I knew you wouldn’t cover, the former you mentioned you would in May, but it probably got pushed to the bottom of your pile.
December 9, 2014 @ 4:34 pm
One of my favorite albums of the year that I immediately thought of that isn’t on your list is Tom VandenAvond’s Endtimes. Maybe you just haven’t gotten to that one yet, but it’s pretty fantastic.
December 9, 2014 @ 4:43 pm
I actually did some very minor work on that album so I’ve been shying away a little bit from covering it from a journalistic standpoint, but I still might do something on the album and just not give a grade or something because it has been criminally under the radar. Tom V. is a great songwriter.
December 9, 2014 @ 6:33 pm
Great list and I wondered how your involvement with “Endtimes” would impact a review. (Kinda like PPJ last year) I have “Endtimes” as one of my 2014 favorites along with several from this list.
“Chef’s House” from “Endtimes” is Tommy V at his best.
Bigfoot is Real (and essential as a MFer)
December 10, 2014 @ 12:08 pm
Oh for cripes sake Trig TVA’s (with Larry and His Flask) Endtimes should be on the list. Your involvement doesn’t make it any less worthy of inclusion. Tom is a incredible songwriter and could use the support. Just include a note about your involvement and add the MFer. I just got my copy yesterday and am listening to it now and ya, it should be on the list.
December 10, 2014 @ 12:50 pm
I may feature the album at some point in the future. Folks need to remember this list just includes albums that were reviewed (except for Hurray for the Riff Raff), and I may add albums to it in the future as I tend to do every year.
December 9, 2014 @ 6:00 pm
Moot Davis is fantastic. Can’t get enough.
December 9, 2014 @ 8:47 pm
No Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis “Our Year?”
December 10, 2014 @ 9:42 am
Well, it’s certainly one of my favorites (top 10). 🙂 I was never big on “Harper Valley PTA” before, but I looove their version!
I suspected back in January when I first heard Rosanne Cash’s album that it would still be at least in my Top 5 by now, and I was right. The one that totally surprises me, though, is Lee Ann Womack; I always sorta liked her (I mostly enjoyed the radio singles from her first three CDs, but her turn toward pop with “Something Worth Leaving Behind” put me off), and I thought “The Way I’m Livin'” was an OK comeback single, but the rest of that album completely won me over in a way I was not expecting.
December 9, 2014 @ 10:17 pm
This list is sorely lacking The Haden Triplets’s debut record.
December 10, 2014 @ 2:39 am
Very good list. I miss
Bruce Robison & Kelly Willis – Our Year
Girls, Guns & Glory – Good Luck
Rod Picott – Hang Your Hopes On A Crooked Nail
December 10, 2014 @ 4:40 am
Nice list! Wow, what a great year it’s been! Didn’t remember that the now Moot Davis came out this year ….. gonna have to have another listen to that now!
December 10, 2014 @ 7:53 am
I know it wasn’t reviewed, but old SCM favorite Jimbo Mathus put out a very good album at the beginning of the year called Dark Night of the Soul. I think it’s right up there with hs previous release White Buffalo.
Bigfoot is Real (and as essential as a MFer)
December 10, 2014 @ 8:14 am
You are to be commended for being brave enough to put Those Poor Bastards “Vicious Losers” on the list. Was kinda hoping to see Joseph Huber on the best of list but happy to see him here.
December 10, 2014 @ 9:00 am
This is a budget-buster for sure, but I am going to copy it and take it to the LRS later to start chipping away at the CDs I don’t already own.
Where is the 100 CD/album list you mentioned in a thread last week (or so)?
December 10, 2014 @ 9:51 am
This album might have come out in 2013, but I am pretry sure it was 2014–Everything I Should Have Said by Radney Foster.
If this album hadn’t reached your ears, be sure to make it happen.
December 10, 2014 @ 10:24 am
I seem to be the only one who thought Lucinda Williams’ “Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone” was absolutely fantastic. I realize it’s not traditional country…it’s alternative country in every sense of the phrase, but I absolutely loved the album and it was worth every minute of the listen.
December 10, 2014 @ 11:21 am
Because I love Lucinda Williams and am a huge fan, I wanted to love “Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone” more than anyone, but I hate it. It feels more like a B-sides or ratites collection than a studio album. I’m more disappointed with this album than I was with “West.” But, I’m glad you like it.
Bigfoot is Real (and essential as a MFer)
December 10, 2014 @ 11:41 am
No Cobra you are not alone, I think Lucinda Williams should be on this or the best of list. Even more so after seeing some of the other selections (Bob Wayne, Willie Watson, Stoney LaRue) on here but alas this is not my blog and I try to check my own ego at the door when I visit (though not always successfully).
December 10, 2014 @ 11:41 am
You’re not alone, Cobra — I’d say it’s my favorite of the year. 🙂
December 10, 2014 @ 1:18 pm
The new Lucinda Williams album has yet to be reviewed, and if/when it is it could be added to this list later. Every year there seems to be one album that for whatever reason I have a difficulty obtaining, and this year it has been Lucinda’s. You would think that for a site that does more album reviews that any other site in country music, and gets a fair amount of traffic (not to boast, but it’s true), access would not be an issue. I receive hundreds of albums sent to me as a matter of course whether I want them or not, both physically and digitally, but for some artists, I can’t even get my requests for copies answered. Furthermore, since Lucinda’s album isn’t available for streaming, that is not an option for me either. I’m not too proud to buy music as well, but the last time I was in the record store, they didn’t have it. So instead of consternating over it, it is much easier for me to crash the reams of albums sitting on my desk to find the next Karen Jonas, Tami Neilson, Luke Bell that has the potential of developing into the next Sturgill Simpson, instead of wondering of why apparently I’m not important enough to be the recipient of an album I’m likely to give promotion to for free.
It is an inherent pitfall with these lists that many people are going to say, “Where’s THIS album?” But the simple fact is Saving Country Music, as a one-man operation mind you, reviews more music, and writes more content in those reviews, than any other outlet in country music. I do my best, but even if I wrote 100 more album reviews this year, there would still be someone who was left out, and someone to say, “Where THIS album?”
December 10, 2014 @ 3:37 pm
I in no way meant to criticize your exclusion of it. There’s some great albums on your list, and your list is your list. I’m sure you chose it for a reason. I hope my comment was taken as being a criticism.
I simply haven’t seen a whole lot of reviews of it on most sites like yours (or mine, or Country Perspective), and was surprised, that was all.
Again, I wasn’t meaning to be critical. I’m sure there will be some who disagree with some of the choices on my Top 10 List.
December 11, 2014 @ 1:55 am
“… the simple fact is Saving Country Music, as a one-man operation mind you, reviews more music, and writes more content in those reviews, than any other outlet in country music”.
Thank you for the reminder, Trig and for the amazing gift of this site.
Yours is the only music website I follow religiously. You’re a man that knows his stuff! Every single time I purchase any new music, it’s because of a review you’ve posted. It might be good, it might be bad, but you bring these artists to my attention and allow me to make up my own mind about them.
Also, I’ve always loved the way you engage with us in the comments section of your reviews/articles. It shows that you really do give a shit*
* Hoping that comment wasn’t lost in translation. If so, it means you care alot. Not that you gift poop to others.
Toby in AK
December 10, 2014 @ 10:38 am
Amy Ray – Goodnight Tender
Listening to it right now for the first time, and just blown away.
December 10, 2014 @ 12:35 pm
I would just have to throw Parker Millsap I’m there somewhere as well. I haven’t heard all the albums you’ve listed, but I know Parker put out a damn fine record this year.
December 10, 2014 @ 1:18 pm
I found this funny, and true.
The 20 Unhappiest People You Meet In The Comments Sections Of Year-End Lists
December 10, 2014 @ 4:29 pm
21. The Disappointed Reminder-er
…but still habitually checks the site everyday and reads every article.
“i know you were involved with the Possessed By Paul James and i understand why you left it off, but it’s just to good of a record to pretend it doesn’t belong with the other albums listed”
December 10, 2014 @ 4:46 pm
22. The Passive Agressive “Doesn’t Get It” Guy.
“A lot of people here sure do like Album X, but I just can’t figure out what the fuss is all about. I must be missing something.”
December 10, 2014 @ 3:32 pm
Zoe Muth is the female equivalent of Sturgill for me, she gets my vote. Thanks for the list, many good leads I will enjoy checking out. Two off the top of my head that I don’t see here: The Earls of Leicester, self-titled and Cahalen Morrison & Country Hammer, The Flower of Muscle Shoals.
December 10, 2014 @ 8:21 pm
Great list. Only quibbles are the absence of Lydia Loveless and Parker Millsap. Bonus points for having Jason Eady and Kelsey Waldon in the Most Essential category.
December 10, 2014 @ 8:31 pm
Micky and the Motorcars ‘Hearts From Above’ is a stellar album.
Brent T. Hirth
December 11, 2014 @ 11:29 am
one man operation? Sounds to me like you need a partner in crime. I’m in! Thanks for the list. I go to you & Farce the Music for a lot of my musical interests. Keep up the good work. I love the red dirt/ Texas country scene, but much of the southeast we don’t get as much of out here in Denver, so I truly appreciate the work you do. Merry Christmas!
December 12, 2014 @ 3:16 am
Chuck Mead’s “Free State Serenade” should be on here
December 13, 2014 @ 3:26 pm
Corb Lund’s Counterfeit Blues. Yeah, it’s re-recording established material, so more of a Live album, but it’s a hoot and a holler, eh?
December 14, 2014 @ 8:47 pm
Utah – Jamestown Revival
December 15, 2014 @ 8:00 pm
Chuck Mead’s “Free State Serenade” is just about the best country thing to come out this year. Incredible album!
December 16, 2014 @ 3:08 pm
Good choice, Trigger. Most of em are in my music library. Especially Jason Ready.
December 22, 2014 @ 6:39 pm
I’m interested to hear your thoughts on the Robert Ellis record from this year. It’s garnered quite a bit of love, both at its initial release and in the end-of-year accolades, and I was predicting it would’ve appeared somewhere in the top 50 for this site. In your review from February, you gave it a mostly-good review. It’s definitely been a grower for me. I guess I’m most interested to hear your opinion on the album at this point, now that it’s had 10ish months to grow (or shrink?) on you. Not included in the top 50 because it wasn’t worthy, or more that there were too many other good albums? Thanks.
December 22, 2014 @ 7:38 pm
I actually really liked the album and it would have been included on this list if it had been extended to 51. For lacking of space, I didn;t include it here because it’s more of a classic pop album than country.
Here’s my review:
December 24, 2014 @ 1:21 am
I know some of y’all aren’t Spotify fans but of you’re like me you can’t afford to buy all 50 of these albums tonight. I put together a Spotify playlist of all 50 of these albums plus the album of the year nominees.
December 24, 2014 @ 1:37 am
December 31, 2014 @ 12:29 pm
Angaleena Presley’s “American Middle Class” would’ve definitely made my list. It’s nothing groundbreaking but I listened to it a whole, whole lot this year.
February 17, 2015 @ 9:01 am
I haven’t heard nearly all these, but assuming they really represent the “best” of the year it’s apparent that women aren’t making good music these days. A shame.
February 17, 2015 @ 12:49 pm
I would disagree. Though by volume the women may not be as well-represented, I think they also contribute some of the best projects available. Album of the Year candidates (which are not included on this list) included Tami Neilson, Karen Jonas, and First Aid Kit. Overall the argument can be made women are making better country music these days per capita.
February 17, 2015 @ 3:19 pm
I’m not commenting about the quality of the artists or the criterion for the choices, that’s subjective and entirely your call. Truth is I like the people on the list that I’m familiar with, so no argument at all. But the fact is that there are only six women in a list of 50. That’s not much, and there’s no other explanation than women didn’t make much good music last year, at least by your standards. It’s not meant to be a criticism, it’s just odd to see it so out of balance, and I’m just wondering out loud.