It has taken me quite some time to put this article together. Mostly because I have been torn how to set up my top 3 albums of 2017. This year has been insane with so many great albums that have released, especially in the latter part of year. It’s also been incredibly difficult to not read other respected website’s “Best of” lists so that I am not swayed one way or the other. So without further ado… my lists for 2017.
Favorite Albums of 2017:
1. Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit- The Nashville Sound
This is the 3rd official album the group has done not including their live album but the group is not new to the scene. Isbell was in the Drive-By Truckers for 6 years before releasing 3 of his own solo albums (Southeastern might be one of my all time favorites). I had to make this album my number one if for no other reason than, I couldn’t stop listening to it this summer. ‘If We Were Vampires’ is likely the most recognized song from the album. It’s a hauntingly beautiful love song with a dose of the inescapable reality of death woven into the lyrics of this duet with his wife and violinist, Amanda Shires Isbell.
2. Turnpike Troubadours- A Long Way from Your Heart
This was one of my most anticipated album releases of the fall by far. I stayed up all night waiting for the release and when it finally dropped, I stayed up to listen to each track. Turnpike has been one of my favorite finds of this year (yes, I know they have been around for a very long time, I was late to this one). I just fell in love with the folky/country/red-dirt sound. Want more? Read here.
3. Drew Kennedy- At Home in the Big Lonesome
I’ve been shouting from the rooftops how much I have loved this album (read more here), and I will say it again… THIS ALBUM IS FANTASTIC. To add to how much I have loved this album, I was able to catch Drew on the road with the Red River Songwriters tour in November and that certainly did not disappoint. Plus Drew was incredibly nice to me and gave me the go ahead to photograph the show. All of this only added to how much I loved this album and it made me play it all the more. It’s so well written and that’s a big reason why I had such a hard time deciding between my top three. All of these albums have TOP NOTCH songwriting.
4. Lee Ann Womack
This album blew my mind and I feel like there wasn’t a lot of talk about it when it released but it ended up on several ‘best of” lists. There isn’t a single song on the album that I didn’t love. Saying that Lee Ann is talented is such an understatement.
Josh Abbott- Until My Voice Goes Out
Of course, a list of my favorite albums of this year would not be complete without Josh Abbott. If you know anything about why I got into country music and turning off the radio, it was in large part to Josh’s album Front Row Seat. Though it had been years since I’d really listened to country (right around the time some song came out about rolling windows down and cruising… garbage) but I was introduced to him and I’ve spent a year digging into Texas country and Americana music. With his newest album, he takes a bit of a different approach by adding strings and the big band sound all while sounding very country.
Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real
This guy must have learned a thing or two from his incredibly famous father, Willie, because this record is so insanely good. There are hints of his father sprinkled in but with his own twist. Find Yourself is one of the singles from this album and it’s this funky/ bluesy song telling a lover that she needs to get her crap together because he deserves better. “I hope you find yourself before I find somebody else to be my lover.”
Texas Gentlemen- TX Jelly
This record is one big country/funk/blues/soul jam session among friends. You can read more about it here.
Mike Ryan- Blink You’ll Miss It
All 8 of the tracks are so good. Sad Song and The Rewrite are hands down my favorites.
Margo Price- All American Made
Now let me just say, that I really liked this album A LOT. However, I saw many people saying that this was the best album of the year and I just have to disagree. You can read more about my thoughts on the album here, and clearly by my article, I loved the album. Which is why it made my top ten. I love that she hits on so many topics that are relevant to our society right now without having to pander in order to be “country”. I think that she will absolutely be a leader in a change in country music. Margo is using her voice for good and I like that.
Other notable albums of 2017
- Tyler Childers- Purgatory– In complete transparency, this album was initially number 5 on my list but since I didn’t start really listening to it until late November, I didn’t think that it was fair to really include it.
- The Cadillac Three- Legacy
- Will Hoge- Anchors
- The Vandoliers- The Native
- Radney Foster- For You to See the Stars
- Carly Pearce– Every Little Thing—though it’s incredibly ‘pop-y’ I still really liked most of it.
Artists I loved this year:
- Josh Abbott Band– This should be no surprise as I really go into his music this year (January 6th to be exact at his show at Billy Bob’s in Fort worth). I also may have seen him 8 times in 3 states (Texas, California, and Oklahoma). Front Row Seat will always be a go-to album for me.
- Lori McKenna– You’ve heard songs she’s written (Humble & Kind, Girl Crush, The Luxury of Knowing, Rose of Jericho) but you probably didn’t realize it. I fell in love with her lyrics. She has a way of writing that makes you feel every pain she’s felt and every joy she’s experienced. She’s a remarkable songwriter and was recognized for her talent as ACM’s Songwriter of the Year.
- Paul Cauthen– Although his album ‘My Gospel’ released in 2016, it has been on repeat for months. ‘Saddle’ is still one of my favorites but it isn’t the only great song on the album ‘I’ll Be the One’, ‘Marfa Lights’, ‘Hanging Out on the Line’, ‘As Young as You’ll Ever Be’ are also favorite songs from the album.
- Dispatch– I found out about this band from an Instagram story that someone posted and I fell in love. I actually got to photograph their show in Dallas on December 8th at the Kessler. They are incredible and little did I know, they’ve been around for a very long time. AND they’ve sold out Madison Square Garden!
- Sam Riggs– Right around the time I was introduced to JAB, I decided to go solo to a local saloon that Riggs’ was headlining. I’d never really listened to him but I thought it would be fun anyways. It most certainly was fun to say the least. So much so that my number 2 most listened to song on Spotify this year was his song “The Chase.” I will have to say though, my favorite Sam Riggs song has not been released on an album YET but is on Youtube called ‘Don’t Stop Now.’
I don’t need to spend a lot of time to say that I didn’t care for the following.
Chris Janson’s EVERYBODY
Darius Rucker’s When was the Last Time
Kelsea Ballerini’s Unapologetically