Don't hesitate to leave a comment below with your picks for best albums of the year!
Carolina Chocolate Drops - "Leaving Eden" (Nonesuch)
Personnel may change but the CCD just keeps getting better.
Rodney Crowell and Mary Carr - "KIN" (Vanguard)
Strong songwriting from Rodney and his English professor friend, coupled with guest artists, makes this a nice release.
Iris DeMent - "Sing the Delta" (Flariella)
The 16-year wait between original Iris DeMent material was well worth it. This music touches something deep down inside me.
JP Harris & the Tough Choices - "I'll Keep Calling" (Cow Island Music)
JP Harris has been winning accolades since the release of this album, and deservedly so. Consisting of 12 original tunes covering honky tonk, Western swing, trucker tunes and laments, this is perhaps the strongest debut album since Dwight Yoakam's.
Jamey Johnson - "Living for a Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran" (Mercury)
All songs written or co-written by the great Hank Cochran and a wide variety of guest artists makes this release very appealing.
Kathy Mattea - "Calling Me Home" (Sugar Hill)
Following up from 2008's Coal, Kathy again taps the roots of her raising in West Virginia, covering songs by Jean Ritchie, Hazel Dickens and Laurie Lewis among others.
Chuck Mead & His Grassy Knoll Boys - "Back at the Quonset Hut" (Ramseur)
A fine collection of classic country songs recorded at the famed Nashville landmark. Mead enlists the help of A-List greats like Harold Bradley, Bob Moore, Pig Robbins and Buddy Spicher.
Tim O'Brien & Darrell Scott - "We're Usually a Lot Better Than This" (Full Light)
Tim and Darrell's sons attend the same school and this album was put together from a couple of benefit shows they did. Great duet work throughout.
The Time Jumpers - "The Time Jumpers" (Rounder)
Everyone misses Papa John Hughey on pedal steel, but Paul Franklin is an able substitute, and the addition of Vince Gill's vocals and guitar is a great touch. Their debut release on Rounder.
Don Williams - "And So It Goes" (Sugar Hill)
Last year's surprise "old-school" release for me was Melba Montgomery; this year it's the "Gentle Giant." His laid-back style is always in style.