2018 has provided us with some great music including one album in particular that I consider to be above the rest. It is still very early in the year however, we are already through one quarter of 2018. Below are my personal favorite albums of the first quarter. If an album/artist was omitted it doesn’t necessarily mean that it isn’t great, it may just mean that the album wasn’t my taste, I haven’t gotten to it yet or the album wasn’t easily accessible. There are many great albums set to come out in the coming weeks and months which you can keep track of here. Feel free to comment if you agree/disagree with my choices and if there were any albums you would have added.
Caitlyn Smith, Starfire – Easily my favorite album of 2018 thus far, the one word that I would use to describe it is flawless. From the songwriting, to the storytelling, to the unbelievable vocals that Smith possesses, this album is without flaw. This is a beautiful genre defying album and I would be shocked if any album is ranked higher on my list at years end.
Caleb Caudle, Crushed Coins – If not for Starfire, this would be my current best album of 2018. This Americana/country album contains fantastic songwriting and an easily digestible production. My favorite songs on this album are the ones that best showcase country instrumentation like “Madelyn” and “Love That’s Wild.”
Lindi Ortega, Liberty – It’s no surprise that Lindi Ortega’s newest album Liberty is great. This is a concept album that essentially has two parts. The first half of the album that describes a character going through struggles and the second half which is the character fighting her demons and getting through to the other side.
Steep Canyon Rangers, Out in the Open – A great mixture of country and bluegrass, Out in the Open is an all around solid album.
Jeff Hyde, Norman Rockwell World – This probably wins an award for coolest sounding album. The Eric Church band member has some traditional themes and sounds on this album as well as some more experimental stuff.
Shotgun Rider, Palo Duro – Whether you would call this pop country or country rock or just plain old country, I’ll just call it great. This album nearly went under the radar for me with so many great albums being released this past Friday but this album ranks as high as all of them for me. Great debut album.
Worth a Listen
Meghan Patrick, Country Music Made Me Do It – An album that may have gone under the radar for some but a solid pop country effort in my opinion. I don’t like every song, but there’s plenty to like.
Kacey Musgraves, Golden Hour – You don’t need to be on one side or the other when it comes to Kacey Musgraves and Golden Hour. In my case I think it’s a fine album even if I find it to be a bit of a disappointment overall. There are still songs on the album that I think are solid like “Rainbow” and “Space Cowboy.” Review here
Wade Bowen, Solid Ground – Another solid album from the Texas star. At the end of the day, any critiques or problems with this album that exist do not outweigh the positives. Not by a long shot. This is a solid country album from a solid and respected artist. Is it going to be my favorite album of 2018? Honestly, probably not but I can say that this is an album that deserves to be heard. Review here
Josh Grider, Good People – This is a really solid country album by Josh Grider. If the album trimmed a couple of filler songs it would be even better but there’s not really anything to hate about this album. Songs like “Pictures Do” and “Sex and Alcohol” really make the album stand out and may just be song of the year nominees here when all is said and done. I absolutely recommend this album. Review here
Scotty McCreery, Seasons Change – Without a doubt there is growth and this is McCreery’s best album but it leaves much to be desired. There are definitely songs worth at least hearing one time like “Home in My Mind,” “Still” and “This is It.”
First Aid Kit, Ruins – The Swedish folk duo delivers a great album showcasing both strong vocal abilities and songwriting chops.
Ashley McBryde, Girl Going Nowhere – The words that seem to be used most often to describe Ashley McBryde are bad ass and that is certainly fitting. In an era of country radio where women are mostly shutout or forced to release bubbly pop garbage, Ashley McBryde has a single climbing the charts and an album with substance and grit. This isn’t a traditional country album but it’s a damn good album.