2019 is here ladies and gentlemen, and soon your ears will have a fresh new bounty of new releases in the country, roots, and Americana world to feast upon. In such a crowded landscape and with so many releases to choose from, having a road map certainly helps. So in that spirit, here are Saving Country Music’s top picks for the most anticipated releases for the beginning of 2019, followed by a more complete list of pending releases throughout the country and roots world, and then the always fun “Rumor Mill” where any hints and allegations congregate about what might be coming up around the bend.
Hint: Bookmark this page, and come back on Fridays to make sure you don’t miss anything important.
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 in country music, please feel free to share the information below in the comments section for the benefit of everyone.
Randy Houser – Magnolia – January 11th
A new record from Randy Houser may not always be the reason for fanfare from traditional country circles. A few years ago Houser was doing his best to keep up with the Florida Georgia Line’s of the world.
But Randy was a pretty substantial and reliable songwriter for years, and possessed one hell of a powerful voice when he chose to apply it in a positive direction. Many of the signs ahead of Magnolia are positive, including the debut single “What Whiskey Does.” He’s also got a “movie”—or at least a series of videos—to accompany the release, and he’s been saying the right things ahead of Magnolia. Houser has the voice and songwriting chops to do something good when he chooses. We’ll just have to see if he choose right on Magnolia.
The Steel Woods – Old News – January 18th
After releasing their debut album Straw in the Wind in 2017, The Steel Woods immediately shot up the Southern Rock depth charts, aided by big opportunities opening for Blackberry Smoke, Miranda Lambert, Cody Jinks, Jamey Johnson, and Dwight Yoakam. Now they look to take another big step with the new album recorded at the Echo Mountain Studio in Asheville, North Carolina, and Blackbird Studio in Nashville.
Along with a bunch of new originals, the 15-song record includes a serious selection of covers that the band releases in tribute to some of the artists who directly influenced their sound, and have recently passed on. This includes “Whipping Post” by Gregg Allman, Tom Petty’s “Southern Accents,” “Are The Good Times Really Over” by Merle Haggard, “The Catfish Song” by Townes Van Zandt, “Changes” by Black Sabbath, and “One of These Days” by slain country music artist Wayne Mills, who was a close friend of Jason “Rowdy” Cope. (read more)
Flatland Cavalry – Homeland Insecurity – January 18th
The future looks bright for Texas music, and that’s partly due to the promising prospects of groups like Flatland Cavalry. Led by singer and songwriter Cleto Cordero, the Lubbock-based band gives your ears something to feast on when you’ve worn out your Turnpike Troubadours records for the moment, but want to hear something familiar. Grabbing people’s attention with their debut album Humble Folks in 2016, they’re now readying their new release Homeland Insecurity for January 18th, which finds them singing about the difficulties and insecurities of jumping into adult life.
“We’re all just out of college,” says Cleto Cordero. “We’re in our mid-twenties. We’re all told growing up that by the time you’re out of school, you’ll have it all figured out, but that’s not really how it is. You’re still out there trying to find yourself. I think at some point, you feel like you need to grow-up, but you don’t know how. You’re searching for that path though. You’re overturning every rock trying to find the secret that gets on to the next.” (read more)
Cody Johnson – Ain’t Nothin’ To It – January 18th
Fans of Texas country are used to witnessing their favorite artists and bands get signed to a big Nashville record label, only to come back a few years later with their tail between their legs. That’s why the announcement of a major label deal isn’t always welcome news. It often sets eyes to rolling in Texas. That’s what happened for some Cody Johnson fans when it was announced he’d partnered his own label CoJo Music with Warner Music Nashville, making him a major label artist for the first time in his career.
But Cody Johnson insists this isn’t your average Music Row deal. As a 50/50 partnership, he still gets to keep creative control of his music, and still gets to be Cody Johnson. Because unlike a lot of major label new signees, he comes to the table with a built-in fan base. His debut single is currently sitting at #24 on radio. Watch out for this to be a massive release, and an important one to Texas country and independent-minded artists.
Alice Wallace – Into The Blue – January 18th
Alice Wallace combines brilliant songwriting steeped in the traditions of country’s California traditions, with a soaring voice that saw her named the California Country Awards’ 2017 Female Vocalist of the Year. She also happens to be one of the best yodelers alive, and will combine this all on Into The Blue, the debut release from the new Californian-based label from Rebelle Road.
The record was co-produced by Steve Berns and Rebelle Road’s KP Hawthorn, and Alice was backed by an all-star ensemble that included drummer Jay Bellerose (Bonnie Raitt, Elton John, Aimee Mann), multi-instrumentalist Jeremy Long (Sam Outlaw), bassist Jennifer Condos (Jackson Browne, Graham Nash), guitarist Tom Bremer, and string arranger Kaitlin Wolfberg. Debut singles “Elephant” and “Santa Anna Winds” couldn’t be more relevant and timely.
Joshua Ray Walker – Wish You Were Here – January 25th
Dallas-based singer and songwriter Joshua Ray Walker is definitely one to watch in 2019, and will be releasing his debut album on State Fair Records. If you’re looking for that heart-pounding, gut-punching material that combines the twang of country and the songwriting textures of Americana, make sure to check out Wish You Were Here come January 25th.
Joshua Ray Walker has shared the stage over the last few years with the likes of Colter Wall, American Aquarium, and fellow Dallas-based bands such as the Old 97’s and Vandoliers. Wish You Were Here will be his moment to step into the spotlight himself. Debut singles “Canyon” and “Last Call” prove what he’s capable of.
Charles Wesley Godwin – Seneca – February 15th
Saving Country Music first strongly praised Charles Wesley Godwin while he was with his previous band Union Sound Treaty as an artist we could expect to hear from in the years to come. With the old band disbanded, he’s now branching out as a solo artist.
If the early indications are true, this West Virginia native could slide right in there with artists like Tyler Childers and Colter Wall as one of the most authentic voices of the current era. Goodwin’s first single called “Coal Country” is just a taste of what we may get from what could be a very important artist in 2019. “This album will give people a really good look into what it’s like culturally in Appalachia. People have a way-off view from the outside of what we’re all about, what our priorities are and how smart we are,” says Godwin.
Dale Watson – Call Me Lucky – February 15th
It’s been a long wait for a new album from the regularly prolific Dale Watson, who’s made a habit over the last decade or so of releasing records a clip of a couple a year. His last record of original material was early 2017’s Dale & Ray with Ray Benson.
What has Dale been doing this whole time? He’s been setting up a second home in Memphis, Tennessee, and that comes through on this newest record, which among other Memphis-based tie-in’s was recorded at the Sam Phillips Recording Studio, and includes some Memphis musicians such as W.S. “Fluke” Holland (Johnny Cash’s drummer), and a horn section on select track to go with his legendary 3-piece backing band, His Lone Stars. (read more)
Hayes Carll – What It Is – February 15th
What It Is will feature the return of Hayes working with producer Brad Jones, who also produced Carll’s 2008 breakout Trouble In Mind, and his 2011 followup KMAG YOYO. The new album was recorded at Alex the Great Studio in Nashville, Tennessee. Carll’s fiance, and fellow singer/songwriter Allison Moorer also worked as a co-producer and co-writer on the record. “On the songwriting front she’s just a pro,” Hayes says. “She helps me cut through the noise and she does it with wit and style.”
Other songwriting collaborators include Matraca Berg, Charlie Mars, Adam Landry, and Lolo. After Carll’s 2016 album Lovers and Leavers set a decidedly more sedated, singer songwriter tone compared to his previous works, What It Is is said to stretch out a little bit more, re-connecting with Carll’s rock bone, and re-instituting some of his sharp wit. (read more)
Ryan Bingham – American Love Song – February 15th
Ryan has released a new song called “Wolves,” which the Grammy and Oscar winner says is about facing down the darkness and bullies in life. It’s the first track off his upcoming sixth studio record American Love Song, which will be released via his own Axster Bingham Records. The 15-track album was written in a remote cabin in his home state of New Mexico, and was co-produced by Charlie Sexton at Austin’s Arlyn Studios, with additional studio work completed in Los Angeles.
Bingham has also let it be known that he’s planning a big, full band tour for 2019, starting March 19 in Salt Lake City, UT, and will be hosting his own personally-curated music festival April 12th and 13th, 2019 in Luckenbach, TX called The Western. (read more)
Yola (Carter) – Walk Through the Fire – February 22nd
Those in touch with the British side of Americana music need no introduction to Yola Carter. She’s been blowing away audiences with her voice for the last couple of years, making folks drip with anticipation of when the moment was ready to finally release a full-length debut. Once homeless and barred from making music by one of her parents, her story is one of perseverance, and it comes through in the songwriting and soul of her music. Don’t be surprised to hear fiddle and steel guitar in her music either.
“The moment I met Yola I was impressed. Her spirit fills the room, just like her voice,” says producer Dan Auerbach. “She has the ability to sing in a full roar or barely a whisper and that is a true gift. She made everyone in the studio an instant believer.”
Ray Charles – Modern Sounds in Country Music Vol. 1 & 2 (expanded reissue) – February 22nd
If you didn’t have a physical copy, or perhaps matured during the streaming era of music, then you’ve possibly never experienced what is considered one of the greatest works in country music history—Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music by Ray Charles. Recorded in February of 1962 and released in April of that year, it found the classic R&B singer contributing his renditions of country music classics such as “You Win Again” and “Hey, Good Lookin’” by Hank Williams, Don Gibson’s “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” and Eddy Arnold’s “You Don’t Know Me.”
The recording has become so revered over the years, it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, and has been given credit for being one of the most influential records in history, especially for spreading the love of country music throughout popular culture. (read more)
The Cactus Blossoms – Easy Way – March 1st
If you love to get your Everly Brothers vibe on, there’s just about no better modern alternative than brothers Page Burkum and Jack Torrey, known collectively as The Cactus Blossoms. These Minneapolis-based blood brothers have announced they have a new album on the way, and the ten new original songs were produced by the brothers themselves, and were recorded at Reliable Recorders in Chicago.
Along with the the signature harmonies from the brothers themselves, notable contributors to the new album include Dan Auerbach from The Black Keys who co-wrote two tracks, Michael Lewis of Bon Iver and Andrew Bird on saxophone, and Joel Paterson of Devil in a Woodpile on pedal steel. Easy Way is said to up the ante a bit on the band’s unadorned approach, without losing the delicacy of the brother harmonies. (read more)
Aaron Watson – Red Bandana – June 21st
Still a long ways off for this record and details are sketchy since it hasn’t been officially announced yet. But with Aaron Watson’s track record of crowning the Billboard Country Albums charts with releases, and showing surprising traction on commercial radio for an independent star, this will definitely be one to watch.
Watson said in a recent interview, “It’s been tough focusing on anything else because for the past two years I’ve been writing for this new album, and I wrote all 20 songs. It was important that I wrote this album. I wanted 20 new songs, to give the fans both quality and quantity. I think I’m starting to catch my stride as a singer and songwriter, so it’s exciting.”
George Strait – Honky Tonk Time Machine – ????
George Strait has an album of new music on the way for the first time in four years, and it will be called Honky Tonk Time Machine. This was the country legend’s pronouncement from the stage of the T-Mobile arena in Las Vegas in early December as he played a round of residency shows. Though we don’t have a release date yet, the new album is expected to be delivered in early 2019.
Along with the first studio track from the album called “Código” after a tequila company he’s invested in, he also premiered a couple other new songs to the Las Vegas crowd, including a song called “God and Country Music,” and one called “Every Little Honky Tonk Bar.” (read more)
OTHER CONFIRMED RELEASES
Snake Blood Remedy – The Duval Blues – January 1st
Balsam Range – Aeonic – January 4th
Jeff Scroggins and Colorado – Over The Line – January 11th
Rob Baird – After All – January 11th
Danny Burns – North Country – January 18th
Charlie Shafter – When I Was Yours & You Were Mine – January 18th
Greensky Bluegrass – All For Money – January 18th
Ronnie Millsap – Ronnie Millsap: The Duets – January 18th
The Flesh Eaters – I Used to Be Pretty – January 18th
Liz Brasher – Painted Image – January 18th
Taylor McCall – Self-Titled EP – January 19th
Clay Walker – Long Live The Cowboy – January 21st
Ponderosa Aces – No Particular Way – January 25th
Jordan Robert Kirk – Listening to the Sound – January 25th
Pony Bradshaw – Sudden Opera – January 25th
Amelia White – Rhythm of the Rain – January 25th
DBUK (Sim Cessna’s Auto Club side project) – Songs Nine Through Sixteen – January 25th
Bob Sumner – Wasted Love Songs – January 25th
Sundance Head – Stained Glass and Neon – January 25th
Jeff Cramer – Northern 45 – January 25th
Terry Klein – Tex – January 25th
Lula Wiles – What Will We Do – January 25th
Leftover Salmon – Thirty Years of Festival! (Book) – February
Mandolin Orange – Tides of a Teardrop – February 1st
Cale Tyson – Narcissist – February 1st
The Original Five – Wipe Away Those Years – February 1st
Linda Ronstadt – Live in Hollywood – February 1st
Reed Foehl – Lucky Enough – February 1st
The Lonely Heartstring Band – Smoke and Ashes – February 1st
Sean McConnell – Secondhand Smoke – February 8th
Amy McCarley – MECO – February 8th
Chuck Shaw – Self-Titled – February 8th
Gurf Morlix – Impossible Blue – February 8th
Marley’s Ghost – Travelin’ Shoes – February 8th
Zach Nytomt – New York to Montana – February 12th
Markus Sommer – True Sounds of the West – February 13th
Trisha Yearwood – Let’s Be Frank (Sinatra covers) – February 14th
Robert Ellis – Texas Piano Man – February 15th
Tedeschi Trucks Band – Signs – February 15th
Boo Ray – Tennessee Alabama Fireworks – February 15th
Robbie Walden Band – When The Rooster Crows – February 15th
Addison Johnson – Cherokee Blues – February 15th
Gangstagrass – Pocket Full of Fire (Live) – February 15th
Kalyn Fay – Good Company – February 15th
Haint Blue – Overgrown – February 15th
Our Native Daughters (Rhiannon Giddens, Leyla McCalla, Allison Russell and Amythyst Kiah) – Songs of Our Native Daughters – February 22nd
Vandoliers – Forever – February 22nd
Kim Lenz – Slowly Speeding – February 22nd
SUSTO – Ever Since I Lost My Mind – February 22nd
Ray Scott – Honky Tonk Heart – February 23rd
Smithsonian Folkways – The Social Power of Music Box Set – February 22nd
The Golden Roses – Terlingua Graveyard – February 22nd
Gethen Jenkins – Western Gold – Febuary-ish
Quaker City Night Hawks – QCNH – March 1st
Della Mae – The Butcher Shoppe EP – March 1st
Mary Bragg – Violets As Camouflage – March 1st
Ben Morrison – 25 Miles EP – March 1st
Lonesome Shack – Desert Dreams – March 1st
Andrew Leahey – Airwaves – March 1st
Honey Dewdrops – Anyone Can See – March 2nd
The Wild Reeds – Cheers – March 8th
Patty Griffin – Self-Titled – March 8th
Chatham County Line – Sharing The Covers (Covers record) – March 8th
Todd Snider – Cash Cabin Sessions Vol. 3 – March 15th
Over The Rhine – Love & Revelation – March 15th
Allison de Groot & Tatiana Hargreaves – Self-Titled – March 22nd
Luther Dickinson – Solstice – March 22nd
Son Volt – Union – March 29th
Steve Earle – GUY – March 29th
Uncle Walt’s Band – Uncle Walt’s Band (reissue of debut album) – March 29th
David Quinn – Wanderin’ Fool – April 5th
Anna Tivel – The Question – April 19th
THE RUMOR MILL
A new Townes Van Zandt album is on the way called “Sky Blue” or something similar from Fat Possum Records, compiled from the 1973 Hedgepeth basement tapes. It includes a lot of acoustic songs, some of which have never been heard before, including covers and originals. Look for it in March on or near Van Zandt’s 75th birthday.
Zephaniah OHora recently launched a successful Kickstarter campaign for his sophomore record to be produced by Neal Casal.
Corb Lund will have a covers EP, and a new studio LP in 2019, he’s confirmed.
Aaron Lewis will have a new album called The State I’m In, and has launched an accompanying acoustic tour. No release date or further details at the moment.
Traditionalist Jason James will have a new record come February, though we don’t have a title or release date just yet. “I’m extremely proud of this record and I feel it’s some of my best work yet. I’ve gone through hell to get this record to the public. It’s a small price to pay though for the genre that I love more than anything.”
Dwight Yoakam dropped two new songs in May of 2018, but no word if a new album to accompany them will be forthcoming.
After some years away, Joey Allcorn is planning to get back into music, and in a big way. Expect to see a re-issue of some of his early music, as well as a new album coming perhaps in the fall.
Uncorroborated reports have Margo Price in the studio recently, possibly with a big time producer. Stay tuned.
Jason Isbell has produced a new album from Josh Ritter.
Jaime Wyatt was recently recording at the Redwood Studio in Denton, TX.
The Stray Cats are reuniting for a new tour, and a new album of original material in 2019. No word on a name or a release date just yet (read more).
Sarah Shook said on October 23rd via social media, “Let it be known we are officially rehearsing for the next rekkid and we def gonna blow some minds bbs…”
Infamous Stringdusters have completed a new album.
We’re still waiting on the The Randy Rogers Band album produced by Dave Cobb we were anticipating to be released in 2018. Last word was the band recently headed back to Nashville to work on it once again with Cobb, and hope for a 2019 release (read more).
Jenny Tolman has a new album ready called There Goes The Neighborhood. No official release date just yet.
Michaela Anne was recording in California with Sam Outlaw as a producer earlier in 2018. Expect more news soon.
Sam Outlaw has also been recording his own album after moving from California to Nashville.
Ben Haggard‘s long-awaited debut album could be on the way soon. Don’t be surprised if a famous name is tied to the release from Merle’s son.
Jason Hawk Harris has signed with Bloodshot Record, and will be releasing an album through the label soon.
William Michael Morgan has released four new songs ahead of a new album, saying that the reception for the respective songs will help shape the direction of a new album mostly finished, but still with a few songs yet to complete.
Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood are planning a live duets record.
Alan Jackson released a new song in 2017 “The Older I Get” ahead of a new release, but so far we haven’t heard any more. A death in the family and some minor health issues with Jackson may have delayed the release a bit.
Chris Knight says he’s “pretty close” to delivering a new record, has plenty of songs, just needs to pick them out and get into the studio.
On December 21st, 2017, the official David Allan Coe twitter account tweeted, “Big news on the new album coming soon…” Though nothing has been confirmed, the rumors continue to swirl that Coe could be involved with Average Joe’s Entertainment owned by country rapper Colt Ford. Coe did a new version of “Take This Job and Shove It” with Average Joe’s artist The Moonshine Bandits in early 2017. But so far no further details have materialized.
Caitlin Rose has waited a very long time to release new music, all the way since early 2013 with The Stand-In. Once one of the brightest prospects of the east Nashville insurgency, and still a common face in east Nashville haunts and a voice found on many projects emerging from the area, she hinted on Instagram in late 2017 that new music may finally be on the way. “Cut some freakin bangers with these guys this holiday season,” she said. “Very into it. Plz stand by.”
Julie Roberts has been working on a new album produced by Shooter Jennings called I Think You Know. No release date yet.
A book on the life of Billy Joe Shaver is on the way (read more).
Ward Davis just released a 4-song EP, but is still prepping a full LP to be released early 2019 via Thirty Tigers.
Mike and the Moonpies have been back at the Yellow Dog Studio in Texas with producer Adam Odor working on a new album.
Jamestown Revival released a new song “Goodnight Hollywood” from an upcoming album.
Kiefer Sutherland will have a new country record out called Reckless and Me, and has released a new single called “Open Road.” No release date yet.
Austin Meade has a new song out called “Satan & St. Paul” ahead of a new album he says, “is a kick ass representation of who I’ve become, with the fingerprints of my favorite artists.”
Holly Williams has a Dave Cobb-produced album in the can, and this has been the case for years now. Still no word on when it may be released, but she recently had another child, which may keep her music career on hiatus for a bit longer. She has been making regular appearances at the Grand Ole Opry recently.
Sturgill Simpson should be nearing a new release, but no official word has come down just yet. When it does show up, expect it to be loud.
John Baumann has been recording in Nashville with producer Eddie Spear. Perhaps he’ll get a boost after Kenny Chesney recorded his song “Gulf Moon.”
Elizabeth Cook said recently that she has finished writing her next album.
Dalton Domino has been dropping hints and allegations about new music headed to the public.
Expect big news for Parker McCollum in 2019.
Shane Smith and the Saints have two new singles out, “Hurricane” and “Mountain Girl” ahead of a highly-anticipated album. No more details at the moment.
Koe Wetzel was promising a new album in the summer of 2018, and released a new single “Austin” a while back. That’s obviously not going to happen. We’ll have to see if something materializes for 2019.