10 Favorite 2017 Albums

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Over the course of 2017 there were plenty of albums that I listened to (over 20,000 minutes of music) according to Spotify. However, there were plenty of great releases that slipped through the cracks during an extremely busy and complicated year for me. That’s why instead of doing a best of 2017 list I thought it would be more appropriate to list my favorite albums of 2017. Here are my favorite albums of this year, 1 year after I created Critically Country.

Very Honorable Mentions: Puxico (Natalie Hemby), At Home in the Big Lonesome (Drew Kennedy), Hell of a Highway Ep (Jake Worthington) and Canyons of my Mind (Andrew Combs

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10. The Nashville Sound (Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit) My favorite Jason Isbell project that tackles topics like politics, love and race. Sharp, honest songwriting and a lively sound.

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9. Purgatory (Tyler Childers) Many people’s pick for album of the year, this album has sharp songwriting and represents traditional/independent country well. I love the instrumentation on this album.

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8. Rule 62 (Whitney Rose) I have yet to hear a bad song from this Canadian born artist through 3 albums and an ep. A throwback sound with a modern spin.

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7.¬†Chris Stapleton (From a Room Volumes 1 and 2): Chris Stapleton is one of the top vocalists and songwriters in all of music. My biggest criticism of these albums is that there aren’t enough new songs and it would have been better to just have one album with the best of Volumes 1 and 2.

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6.¬†Vaquero (Aaron Watson) Pleasant is the best word that comes to mind when discussing Vaquero. The albums lead single “Outta Style” is also Watson’s first career top 10 song on the Media Base country chart.

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5. Trophy (Sunny Sweeney) My number 1 album for much of 2017 Sweeney delivers her best album making the album that she wanted to. Sweeney’s cover of “I Feel Like Hank Williams Tonight” is one of the best songs of the year.

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4. On The Rocks (Midland) I couldn’t care less about any authenticity concerns. Midland’s music is the real deal traditional country sound that is completely missing from the airwaves in 2017.

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3. A Long Way From Your Heart (Turnpike Troubadours) Was there any doubt that this would be an absolute masterpiece? A Long Way From Your Heart further cements the Troubadours as country musics best and most consistently great band.

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2. Silence in These Walls (Flatt Lonesome) This Bluegrass group gets better with each album. This heartbreak album came out during a particularly difficult time of the year for me making this album so relatable.

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1. Tenderheart (Sam Outlaw) My favorite album of 2017 and without a doubt one of my all time favorite albums. This smooth California country album never gets old despite being released way back in April.

 

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Top 10 Current Country Artists

Since I am currently all caught up with the albums that I want to cover this week (next week is another story) I was thinking about different lists that I could make. I think lists can be fun to make and can be useful for the readers. So, I decided to make the least objective list that I could possibly come up with and do a top 10 list of current country artists. Now, I don’t want this to just be a list of all time greats like George Strait and Dolly Parton. I understand that they are still making music however, I wanted this to be a list of more current artists. For the purposes of the list, whether or not the artist is mainstream or independent is irrelevant. The only qualification is that they are a country artist who is semi current. This is just my personal top 10 artists at the moment so there was plenty of artists who could have been swapped. Feel free to comment, agree/disagree. Enjoy!

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10. Josh Turner: One of my all time favorite artists. The mainstream has certainly chased it’s share of trends over Josh Turner’s career however he has stayed true to his neo-traditional sound through it all.

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9. Miranda Lambert: Before The Weight of These Wings was released I would not have had Lambert on this list. However, when you combine her past work with the Weight of These Wings, it’s hard to argue that there are many better artists in the mainstream.

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8. Eric Church: Is there an artist in the mainstream that releases as many quality singles as Eric Church? Sure he’s not a traditional artist but, he makes great, modern country music and he actually has something to say!

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7. Aaron Watson: Perhaps the biggest country artist in Texas and for good reason. Watson does a fantastic job of combining radio sensible songs and powerful songs with a message in his albums. Even in his more modern sounding songs you can still hear tons of country instrumentation.

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6. Kacey Musgraves: Radio doesn’t deserve Kacey Musgraves. A fantastic neo traditional artist who refuses to compromise her art for the radio machine.

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5. Flatland Cavalry: The closest comparison to Flatland Cavalry would be the Turnpike Troubadours and boy is that a hell of a compliment. After only releasing about an album and a half’s worth of songs, they have already established themselves as one of country’s best groups.

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4. Sunny Sweeney: It’s hard to argue Sunny Sweeney isn’t one of country music’s best after her most recent masterpiece Trophy. The neo traditionalist is extremely honest and relateable in her music with loads of traditional instrumentation.

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3. Chris Stapleton: The biggest, most important moment in country music in recent memory was Chris Stapleton performing alongside Justin Timberlake at the 2015 CMA Awards. Stapleton has since become the biggest selling star in country music with perhaps the greatest voice in the genre. He has helped to prove the irrelevance of radio and the fact that people will pay for good music.

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2. Cody Johnson: Cody Johnson is country music. It’s rare that I go a day without listening to a Cody Johnson song. A true cowboy who mixes heartbreak and uptempo tracks with an undeniable country sound.

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1.  The Turnpike Troubadours: The Turnpike Troubadours are the greatest group/artist in country music. Their songs are written so brilliantly it makes you wonder how anyone could have written such brilliant songs. Musically lets just say if you don’t love the fiddle you may want to stay away from this Oklahoma based group.