We’ve run down the Album of the Year Nominees for 2020, as well as the Song of the Year nominees, and an Essential Albums list is also coming together. But since the mainstream of country isn’t always well-represented on these lists, let’s look back on some of those best albums.
A Saving Country Music ‘Song of the Year’ nominee is not just your favorite ditty that gets stuck in your head. These are songs that have the power to change hearts and change lives, open you up new ideas or ways of thinking, or unlock memories or emotions you haven’t felt in years.
Arlo McKinley, Bloody Jug Band, Brennen Leigh, Brent Cobb, Cahalen Morrison, Charlie Stout, Cleto Cordero, Dalton Domino, Emily Scott Robinson, Gabe Lee, Jason Isbell, John Anderson, John Baumann, John Prine, Jordan Allen and the Bellwethers, Josh Abbott, Josh Grider, Josha Ray Walker, Juliet McConkey, McKay & Leigh, Mo Pitney, Rattlesnake Milk, S.G. Goodman, Tami Neilson, The Panhandlers, The Piedmont Boys, The Tender Things, Ward Davis, William Clark Green, Zach Bryan
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 in country and roots music. It’s available on most all streaming formats. New songs have just been added.
Articulating the kind of down home and wholesome side of country music that just like so many of the other more pleasing and enjoyable facets of the genre have been rendered patently absent in today’s popular realm, Mo Pitney has become a fan favorite over his burgeoning career with quality songs and a laid back demeanor.
Keeping up with all the releases in the country and roots realm is hard enough. COVID-19 has made it even more difficult with numerous delays and postponements on big titles, along with many artists waiting to announce their new records with all the uncertainty in the marketplace. But there are still many important records coming up in 2020.
If you think all major label artists are built the same, you don’t know Mo. Before Chris Stapleton blew up unexpectedly, before Jon Pardi hit it big, Mo Pitney was one of the few major label artists that gave us faith in country music’s future. He’s now set the release of his second album.
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
Shooter Jennings and Lukas Nelson got together to recreate the magic of their famous fathers on a new rendition of “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys,” originally written and performed by Ed Bruce with his wife Patsy. But of course you only get a teaser version of the song in the opening segment of ‘The Ranch.’
When you’re putting your list together of country traditionalists and purists popping through in the mainstream, make sure you don’t forget to include Mo Pitney. When he released his debut album Behind This Guitar in 2016 and even before, he had people singing his praises for his songwriting that reminded you of simpler times.
William Michael Morgan has sent us selling our stock, and then buying it all back again just in a matter of a couple of weeks. The first taste from his upcoming and unannounced sophomore record was a song called “Tonight Girl.” And then here comes “Brokenhearted.”
Alan Jackson isn’t one to pull punches, or to not say what’s on his mind when somebody asks him. His Hall of Fame career has been marked by taking hard stances for the cause of real country music. Alan Jackson was recently interviewed as part of a GQ feature, and had some interesting things to say about Chris Stapleton.
On Saturday, 12-17, Music City Roots, Yee-Haw Brewing Co., and Ole Smoky Moonshine are organizing a benefit for the fire victims called Mountain Tough that will include performances by Jim Lauderdale, Mo Pitney, The Secret Sisters, Sam Bush, Chuck Mead, Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley, and headliners the Zac Brown Band.
If 90% of mainstream country music is garbage, then it stands to reason that 10% of it is at least decent, if not good or great. That calculus hasn’t really changed much recently, even as mainstream country has improved. What has changed is that 10% is actually finding traction on radio, at awards shows, and is making fierce inroads into the 90%’s monopoly.
One of the reasons we feel so surprised at Americana’s success and so many have been so slow to recognize it is because it has been a slow and steady process. Because of Americana’s model of sustainability, the revolution has been plodding, yet purposeful. And now it’s success is palpable, and measurable by industry-standard metrics.
The troika of Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell, and Chris Stapleton isn’t the only gaggle making waves in country music and giving folks hope for the future. All signed to major labels and making more traditionally-oriented country fans salivate for what the future may have in store are Jon Pardi, William Michael Morgan and 23-year-old Illinois native Mo Pitney.
With absolutely no hyperbole intended, William Michael Morgan earning a #1 on country radio for his debut single “I Met A Girl” is a historic moment in country music. It’s a point in time when an undeniably traditional country song from an undeniably traditional country artist has topped the chart after a long vacancy for a traditionalist at the top spot.
“I can’t believe it’s already about this time for me,” William Michael Morgan said. “Right now we’re sitting at about 11 songs that’s gonna be on the album. That could change, but it’s all country, true to the EP of course, and I just can’t wait to share this with you guys. We’ve been working so hard to try and find and write to get these songs out to the public.”
Finally we get some forward movement on one of the most anticipated mainstream traditional albums in a good while. Curb Records-signed singer and songwriter Mo Pitney will release his debut album ‘Behind This Guitar’ featuring 10 of 12 co-written songs by Pitney himself, and contributions from folks we though the rest of Nashville had forgotten.
There’s not much worse than having a hankering for some new music from one of your favorite artists, but feeling like you’ve been waiting forever for it to happen. There are many reasons an artist or band may have a delay in output. But dammit, sometimes you feel like you just can’t wait. Here’s a few folks that it feels like are past due for new projects.
A big issue with the Grand Ole Opry in recent years has been trying to get standing members to meet their performance obligations. Though the Opry loves to add high-profile names from country’s current radio stars, these performers tend to sign on to receive the distinction of being Opry members, but don’t actually want to play the appointed number of slots for membership.
"Cousin" Kenny Vaughan, Brandy Clark, Carrie Underwood, Chris Janson, Chris Scruggs, Chris Stapleton, Daryle Singletary, Elizabeth Cook, EmiSunshine, Gene Watson, Grand Ole Opry, Holly Williams, Jamey Johnson, Jim Lauderdale, Kacey Musgraves, Kellie Pickler, Mark Chesnutt, Miranda Lambert, Mo Pitney, Radney Foster, Rhonda Vincent, Rodney Crowell, Rosanne Cash, Sam Bush, William Michael Morgan
When LeAnn Rimes and Hank Williams III fought very public battles with the label, people chalked it up to a couple of artists with declining careers who couldn’t handle being professional. But after high profile and nasty exits by Hank Williams Jr. and then superstar Tim McGraw, the word was out on the streets about Curb Records’ unfair business practices.
Three of the most promising male artists in the mainstream are William Michael Morgan, Jon Pardi, and Mo Pitney. If there’s a traditional country insurgency looming in the wings, it might be carried on their backs. But with so many albums getting delayed, the big question was if any of them would see a proper album release, or be stuck in limbo like so many other artists. Luckily, there’s been some movement.
How people listen to music is clearly changing, but much of the country music industry isn’t following suit. In a town that employs scores of people just to push songs to radio, Nashville doesn’t know how to behave any differently than they did 60 years ago. Entire companies are based around trying to sell songs to country radio. The difference now is radio is no longer the only game in town.
Are you waiting for your favorite music artists signed to MCA Nashville to release an album after a prolonged hiatus? Perhaps you heard the first single months or sometimes years ago, but still no record? Well you’re not alone. It looks like the unenviable position of being the most notorious label on Music Row is no longer a slam dunk for Curb Records.