Her name is Ashley Ray. And it’s a name that has ended up in the liner notes of the records of some of country music’s most revered performers like Lori McKenna and Wade Bowen. It’s a name that has been featured in opening slots for Miranda Lambert and Eric Church.
Waylon Payne is the name you turn to when you need a ringer of a song to really anchor a record, and that is what names like Miranda Lambert, Lee Ann Womack, Wade Bowen, Charlie Robison, Pam Tillis, and many more have been doing for a while. But those who know Waylon Payne know he’s just as fit to be a performer.
Just like all the black squares that co-opted the Black Lives Matters hashtags and sowed chaos on Tuesday, the “Country Music Accountability Sheet” should be taken down because it is directly detrimental to the cause, nonfactual at times, dangerously misleading, and destructive to the careers of artists.
With the recent death of John Prine at the hands of COVID-19, the question has been posed by many about the legendary songwriter’s prospects of ever being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. It’s an interesting discussion point for sure, and one with a few important qualifiers.
Songwriting legend John Prine’s wife, Fiona Whelan Prine, has tested positive for the Coronavirus. Diagnosed late last week, she hasn’t been running a fever, but has been suffering from a cough and some breathlessness, and general fatigue. “I just don’t feel great at all, to put it mildly.”
Miranda Lambert has been spending the first part of 2020 on her Wildcard tour. As part of the tour, Miranda has been doing something unique to pay tribute to the first responders who rush into burning buildings and respond to 911 calls when trouble strikes.
We’ve already run down the Greatest Country Albums of the Decade, and in there, albums in the mainstream were given fair competition to be included, and some made the cut. But in the spirit of inclusiveness and impartiality, let’s make sure the great records from the mainstream get their due as well.
Alan Jackson, Ashley McBryde, Brandy Clark, Caitlyn Smith, Chris Stapleton, Dierks Bentley, Eric Church, George Strait, Jamey Johnson, Jon Pardi, Kacey Musgraves, Kalie Shorr, Kellie Pickler, Kip Moore, Miranda Lambert, Mo Pitney, Pistol Annies, Randy Houser, Reba McEntire, William Michael Morgan
Here are the greatest country and roots albums of the last decade in Saving Country Music’s estimation. Albums were regarded primarily on quality, and how they held up over the decade, as well as the influence they had on country music, and music at large. These are the albums that should not be overlooked over the last 10 years of music.
Brent Amaker and the Rodeo, Caitlin Rose, Chris Stapleton, Cody Jinks, Emily Scott Robinson, First Aid Kit, Hellbound Glory, Jack Ingram, James McMurtry, Jason Eady, Jason Isbell, John Moreland, Joseph Huber, Kacey Musgraves, Kellie Pickler, Lindi Ortega, MIke and the Moonpies, Miranda Lambert, Olds Sleeper, Roger Alan Wade, Sarah Shook and the Disarmers, Slackeye Slim, Sturgill Simpson, Sunny Sweeney, Tami Neilson, The Mavericks, Turnpike Troubadours, Tyler Childers, Zephaniah OHora
Releasing a live record is seen as a rite of passage for many artists. And with the energy she brings to a live show, you would think Miranda Lambert would be a good candidate for one. Many fans have been requesting a live record, and now some 15+ years into her career, you would think she’s about due. But she says it’s not going to happen.
Grammy nominated, CMA-winning, well-respected and admired singer and songwriter Brandy Clark is prepping the release of a new album in the new year called ‘Your Life Is A Record.’ Though details on the new record are still a little light, Brandy did preview the new record recently during a promotional event.
Adam Wright, Barry Dean, Brandy Clark, Chase McGill, Clint Daniels, Hailey Whitters, Jay Joyce, Jesse Frasure, Jessie Jo Dillon, Jonathan Singleton, Kacey Musgraves, Miranda Lambert, Reba McEntire, Shane McAnally, Sunny Sweeney, Wade Bowen, Your Life Is A Record
All country albums, regardless if they emanate from a major label or receive radio play, are considered for Saving Country Music’s Album of the Year nominations. But not every year does a mainstream album make it. Even though one didn’t make it to the top of the heap in 2019, we had a bumper crop of quality mainstream country releases.
Miranda Lambert’s latest album Wildcard is the #1 album in country music this week, beating out Luke Combs and a new title from Hootie and the Blowfish (yes, they’re “country” now) to take the top spot. This also marks Miranda’s sixth consecutive #1 album in country, and her sixth consecutive Top 10 on the Billboard 200.
Luke Combs is not the William Faulkner of country music. He’s the Grisham, or the Clancy. Ripe for mass consumption, easy to get into, riveting in moments, it’s a much more healthier alternative to a People Magazine or some trashy romance novel for a long flight, but it’s not exactly material for the Pulitzer Prize.
‘Wildcard’ is just that—a spin of the wheel and a roll of the dice, because you just don’t know what you’re gonna get dealt when you cue up the next track. But there’s too much good stuff here to cast it off as just another mainstream country pop record. You have to be willing to dig a little. But it’s ultimately worth the patience and effort.
The Saving Country Music Top 25 Playlist is built to keep you informed on all the best songs and albums coming out right here, right now. It’s available on most all streaming formats (see below), or you can just use the song, artist, and album recommendations to find something new to listen to. New songs have just been added.
Carrie Underwood will win the 2019 CMA Award for Entertainer of the Year when it is handed out on November 13th, 2019. Mark it down. She will beat out Chris Stapleton, Keith Urban, Garth Brooks, and Eric Church for the top prize of the night. This isn’t necessarily an endorsement, nor is it any kind of rebuke. It’s simply a prediction.
For those fans of songwriting that hits so hard you’re apt to fold in two and end up in a fetal position on the floor, John Moreland has been one of your favorite poisons over the last few years. Those who crave Moreland like a drug had to feel their internal clocks ringing that he was about due for another record.
Man, the Academy of Country Music sure knows how to soft pedal the excitement behind some of their awards. Recently they’ve been unveiling their ‘Decade’ awards, stringing them out over months instead of having an event to announce them, surprising artists backstage at gigs and shoving an award in their face as a few flashbulbs go off.
It’s not that that the previous works by Jon Pardi haven’t helped define that hard country edge of the mainstream, because they have. But on his new record Heartache Medication, this is not country music by close approximation, or considering it on a sliding scale based off the output from peers on Music Row. It’s By God country.
If you’re wondering what you might look forward to listening to in the final portions of 2019 in country and Americana music, let this be your guide. Here’s all the information Saving Country Music has been able to compile on the most anticipated upcoming releases, along with a more extensive catalog of releases to have on your radar.
Ags Connolly, Billy Strings, Chris Knight, Cody Jinks, Dallas Moore, Dori Freeman, Jason James, Jon Pardi, Kelsey Waldon, Kendell Marvel, Logan Ledger, Marty Stuart, Michaela Anne, Miranda Lambert, Stoney LaRue, Sturgill Simpson, Whiskey Myers
If you’re a country music fan and are disappointed that your favorite artist didn’t get enough screen time in the Ken Burns film on country music, well guess what, your favorite genre did, and by the most revered documentary filmmaker of our time, and before rock n’ roll, pop, the blues, soul music, or hip-hop.
Alan Jackson, Allen Reynolds, Bill Monroe, Billy Ray Cyrus, Bluebird Cafe, Brooks & Dunn, Chris Stapleton, Clint Black, Conway Twitty, Dayton Duncan, Dierks Bentley, Dixie Chicks, Don Williams, Dwight Yoakam, Emmylou Harris, Garth Brooks, George Jones, George Strait, Glen Campbell, Jamey Johnson, Johnny Cash, Kathy Mattea, Keith Whitley, Ken Burns, Lil Nas X, Little Big Town, Lucinda Williams, Lyle Lovett, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Miranda Lambert, Nanci Griffith, Randy Travis, Reba McEntire, Rick Rubin, Ricky Skaggs, Rosanne Cash, Ryman Auditorium, Steve Earle, Sturgill Simpson, Taylor Swift, The Judds, Toby Keith, Travis Tritt, Trisha Yearwood, Vince Gill
If it was the early 90s, and Jason Aldean was opening for AC/DC or a born again Ozzy Osbourne, perhaps this mess would fly. But this is 2019, and supposed to be country music. Where is the Prince of Darkness to bite the head off a Jason Aldean when you need him?
Even ceding the argument that the album concept is dead for many listeners these days (which is not true at all for core, grassroots fans), there still doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of reason to release a large handful of your songs before an album’s street date, aside from that just seems to be what everyone does these days.
It’s the voice of Tanya Tucker that compels the country listener to seek her records out. It’s always been a mixture of worn leather and honky tonk smoke, even at a tender age. Some may call it husky, including those who mean that in a demeaning manner. But it’s hard not to fall prey to the “lived it” notions the tone of Tanya Tucker conveys, and how it cracks in all the right places to punctuate emotions in the most important moments.