Saturday, January 1, 2022

That Nashville Sound's Best Albums Of 2021 - A Year-End Best Of List

Despite two music-hampering Covid shutdown years in a row, the amount of great music that has been released into 2021 has been nothing short of remarkable. We live in an incredible time. The internet, YouTube and a variety of digital platforms give independent artists a more playing field to get their music heard than ever before- and as a result, we have more options at receiving that music than at any time in our history. From all parts of the world, artists are contributing to this incredible umbrella of music we call country music. True, a few stakeholders have a clear stranglehold on what's being heard on country radio, but clearly the tide has shifted and we are seeing time and time again, the ability of cream to rise to the top and artists become wildly successful without the support of the radio dial.

Albums still matter. Patrick McGuire wrote this in ReverbNation and I've read it several times and wanted to share: "Albums still matter because they tell the unique story of who a band is at a specific moment of time that one or two singles just don’t have the ability to do. Imagine if the songs from ... The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band were released one at a time over the course of a year. Yes, the songs would still be incredible, but the meaning of these hugely important albums would be far less impactful. Whether it’s a concept album or not, good albums feature some sort of story or larger narrative whether it’s in the lyrics or instrumentation. Singles can’t tell the stories albums can." The platform of the album continues to be a tapestry that unites songs into a thematic quilt.

A handful of those 2021 country music releases stand out above all others. That's where this list comes in.

Here's a list of our favorite albums over the last few years for comparison:

2005 - Gary Allan - Tough All Over (tie)
           Lee Ann Womack - There’s More Where That Came From
2006 - Johnny Cash - American V: A Hundred Highways
2007 - Alison Krauss & Robert Plant - Raising Sand
2008 - Lee Ann Womack - Call Me Crazy
2009 - Eric Church - Carolina
2010 - Zac Brown Band - You Get What You Give
2011 - Pistol Annies - Hell on Heels
2012 - Marty Stuart - Nashville Volume 1- Tear The Woodpile Down
2013 - Brandy Clark - 12 Stories
2014 - Don Williams - Reflections
2015 - Chris Stapleton - Traveler
2016 - Ryan Beaver - RX
2017 - Jason Eady - Jason Eady
2018 - Ashley McBryde - Girl Goin' Nowhere
2019 - Erin Enderlin - Faulkner County
2020 - Hailey Whitters - The Dream

These are the albums that struck an emotional chord and moved this listener to fall in love with their projects over and over again.

1. Mike and the Moonpies - One To Grown On
2. Larry Fleet - Stack of Records
3. Darrel Scott - Jaroso
4. Addison Johnson - Dark Side of the Mountain
5. Morgan Wade - Reckless
5. Lainey Wilson - Sayin' What I'm Thinkin'
6. Robert Plant and Allison Krauss - Raise the Roof
7. Josh Grider - Long Way From Las Cruces
8. Erin Enderlin - Barroom Mirrors EP
9. Canaan Smith - High Country Sound
10. Jason Eady - To The Passage Of Time
11. Cody Johnson - Human
12. Brandi Carlile - In These Silent Days
13. Miranda Lambert, Jack Ingram, Jon Randall - The Marfa Tapes
14. Cody Jinks - Mercy
15. Lily Winwood - Time Well Spent
16. Dillon Carmichael - Son Of A
17. Flatland Cavalry - Welcome To Countryland
18. Alan Jackson - Where Have You Gone?
19. Eric Church - Heart and Soul
20. Margo Cilker - Pohorylle

Best of the rest: 
- Jackson Sellers - Breaking Point
- Barry Gibb - Greenfields
- Kirsten Kelly - Something Worth Saying 
- Sturgill Simpson - The Ballad of Dood and Juanita
- Travis Tritt - Set In Stone
- Carly Pearce - 29
- Blackberry Smoke - You Hear Georgia

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