We are continuing our best of the year countdowns with our rankings of the Top 10 Albums of the year. With so many great Country albums released this year cutting it down to just 10 was no easy task but these albums were, in my eyes at least, truly the cream of the crop.
Let’s Get To It!
10) Wild World, Kip Moore- Kip Moore is one of the music world’s most underrated artists and it’s truly a shame that this album has yet to receive the commercial success it deserves. Moore’s raspy voice tells the story throughout this nostalgic, introspective record that makes listeners both think and feel deeply while listening.
9) Ballerini, Kelsea Ballerini- The acoustic, stripped down version of Ballerini’s album, Kelsea, Ballerini shows off the incredible songwriting ability and creativity of Kelsea Ballerini. Hole In The Bottle truly shines in this funky, acoustic setting making this album such an enjoyable listen. While this album may have been borne out of quarantine boredom we’re glad the world got to hear it.
8) Carly Pearce, Carly Pearce- Released in mid February it’s easy to forget that this album was released this year. Boasting Pearce’s second #1 hit, I Hope You’re Happy Now this album is chock full of great songs. Songs like You Kissed Me First, and Woman Down, these two songs show off the incredible song writing and superior storytelling chops of Pearce. However, no song on this album shows off Pearce’s songwriting prowess It Won’t Always Be Like This, a song which has taken on a whole new meaning these days.
7) Here And Now, Kenny Chesney- Here and Now beautifully combines the happy go lucky personality of Chesney with sad songs that remind me of You and Tequila. Chesney is brilliantly able to walk this line with the incredible writing from the writers on this album. Songs that stand out include Happy Does and You Don’t Get To which hopefully gets to be a single next year.
6) Never Will, Ashley McBryde- Never Will proves that Ashley McBryde is here to say and she ain’t selling out. Throughout this tremendous album McBryde leans into her traditional country chops and delivers one of the best sounding albums of the year. McBryde also shows her willingness to take risks in her song writing with a fiery song like Martha Divine which is set to become her next radio single after One Night Standards. Another shining moment on the album is the title track in which McBryde proclaims that she is unapologetically herself and will not be changing her image to suit the desires of radio or label executives.
5) A Rock, Hardy- As I’ve said before this truly was the year of Hardy! A Rock features One Beer a collaboration with Lauren Alaina and Devin Dawson that a couple of weeks ago jumped to the #1 spot at country radio making it Hardy’s first #1 as an artist. The songwriting throughout this album along with Hardy’s affable storytelling make this album true stunner. Hardy is able to dispel the notion that he is simply a “bro” with this deep, incisive album.
4) The Way It Feels, Maddie & Tae- I really cannot say enough about this album. The harmonic beauty of Maddie Marlow and Taylor Dye is one full display throughout this album produced beautifully by Jimmy Robbins. The obvious standout track, Die From A Broken Heart was my #1 song of the year. Other shining moments on the album include I Don’t Need To Know and Drunk Or Lonely. Throughout the album Maddie & Tae are able to convey “The Way It Feels” more than effectively.
3) Lady Like (Deluxe), Ingrid Andress- While I’ve called the past year the year of Hardy, it was just as much the year of Ingrid Andress. This album is an absolute treat to listen to. Andress’ breakout single “More Hearts Than Mine” reached the top of the charts this year marking Andress’ first #1. Andress’ follow up single Lady Like (the title track) shows off an unapologetic version of Andress who is willing to be herself in spite of whether others feel her behavior is adequately “lady like”. There is so much to love her beyond the singles as well, songs like the The Stranger and Feeling Things take listeners on an emotional journey and Andress delivers a stellar vocal on every single track.
2) The Dream, Hailey Whitters- Released in February, The Dream is another album that many may have forgotten was released this year. From a writing and production standpoint the dream is a cut above the vast, vast majority of albums released this year, and once you factor in Whitters’ ability to seemingly effortlessly tell the incredible stories on this album, The Dream becomes a true treasure. Whether it’s on the introspective, longing, Heartland or the hilariously informative Janice At The Hotel Bar, Whitters has a way of telling stories reminiscent of Kacey Musgraves circa Same Trailer Different Park.
1)Sunday Drive, Brett Eldredge- The return was in fact legendary for Brett Eldredge. Sunday Drive is an album that drags the deepest hidden emotions of listeners and brings them to the surface. Eldredge moves from longing to nostalgic to wistful throughout this record. Eldredge crooning voice tells deeply emotional tales, from Where The Heart Is to Gabrielle to Sunday Drive with such easy emotion that resonates deeply with listeners, making Sunday Drive my #1 album of the year.