It has once again come that time of year for reflecting back on some of the best albums released in the last 12 months or so, not to treat country music as competition per se, but as an exercise undertaken with the intent of expanding your musical knowledge in hopes the gaps that formed due to the busy lives we all live get filled in with joyous little music projects.
With no disrespect meant to the albums highlighted here, which represent the exception and not the rule, 2016 has begun where the second half of 2015 left off, where it feels like country and roots music across the board is out of ideas, and the search for music that truly enlivens the spirit is becoming harder. Nonetheless, there are still some excellent albums out there worth highlighting.
Songwriter and frontman Nick Dittmeier has seen the struggles from all sides. Living on the Indiana side of the Ohio River in the greater Louisville, KY area, he can pull inspiration from the evisceration of the coal economy, the dilapidation of the Southern small town, and the abandonment of the Midwest as the traditional American agrarian culture is replaced by the rise of urbanization and corporate farming.