My dear readers I always use the disclaimer EVERY YEAR and it’s one of the reasons I don’t have a comments section like other blogs NO ONE ALBUM IS BETTER THAN THE NEXT JUST BECAUSE OF NUMBERED RANK ON THIS LIST. I strive VERY hard to avoid “I thought Luke Bell was better than Cody Jinks” or other various comments like Hank Williams Jr. should have made your list, Gary. Pretty much in the trailer article I included about 200 honorable mentions on this category and some of them missed my pick by a VERY slim margin, having some very well written songs. I’m ALSO NOT SAYING your opinions aren’t important to me so PLEASE stop the disbelief and just enjoy the great music, these artists poured their hearts into each recording and each album is a part of them.
You see folks, the mainstream “regular” people out there that either are brainwashed into accepting only what the media has them like OR they are just too damn lazy to research for themselves..do not want well written songs. They want easy and simple boring lyrics, not really saying people like Hank Williams wasn’t easy and simple he certainly wasn’t boring or fake. I WANT a song that paints a picture because my brain is a canvas and you paint a picture with your song which is a paint, like the Tillers did with “Willy Dear” or James Hand does with “Old Man Henry”.
Another subject some of you will bring up after reading this AND my trailer article and ask…Gary, where is Sturgill Simpson and Shooter Jennings on this list? Well I talked to both of them on this subject earlier this year and THEY know why they aren’t on them. THEY BOTH will have their OWN article because the albums were not specifically Country and they were not on purpose, but I do stray off that path at times and I DID REALLY ENJOY both albums. I mean…I get it Shooter, I fully understand your eclectic barrage of different ventures and you do your OWN thing very professionally I might add. And anybody that wants to try to bash Sturgill about using a horn section on his new album SURELY isn’t a Johnny Cash fan, you think? Huh? They ARE? WOW Because “Ring Of Fire” had harmonicas right?
So folks I been documenting pages of information and notes ALL YEAR anticipating on unleashing my fury upon you readers with my coveted TOP 50 albums of 2016 and WHY I chose what I did and when. Complete with links right to the artist so you can get to them without further searching for him/her/them. If you like what you see, PLEASE BUY THE ALBUM that’s my MAIN reason for doing all this work. Let’s bring the artists some sales!
1. Billy Don Burns– A Night In Room 8
Black Country Rock (BCR) Outdid themselves this past spring on Record Store Day with this iconic recording of Country Music Legend Billy Don Burns in the very same hotel room that they found Gram Parsons in, I mean WHO else but Billy Don Burns could spill a cup of whiskey in that room? He’s out on tour as we speak at Roosters Country in Arizona as I write this portion of this article with Joshua Morningstar AND he ALSO has a record coming out December 16th (When you read this it will be out) on Rusty Knuckles and it will be called Graveyard In Montgomery. I wrote a huge article on it to help push pre orders HERE however I wanted to touch more on this album “a Night In Room 8”.
I think Mr.Shooter Jennings, Miss Misty Jennings, the late Colonel Jon Hensley and Miss Mary Sparr did a GREAT JOB with recording Billy Don Burns in his rare form of expressing his memories and stories. In fact in my opinion it is one of the most personal and iconic album of the past few years in many ways. It was released on white vinyl in the spring on Record Store Day, and it was opened with “Outskirts Of Desperate”. Now mind you this is only an acoustic album but that is truly what makes it more personal to me, I can actually see Billy Don laying in that hotel room with thick thick smoke emanating out the door.
“Outlaws At The Cross” was one of the songs I got to hear him play at Bobby Mackeys in Wilder Kentucky and once again I got to hear him play it on my own stage in Kansas City at the Westport Roots Festival this past spring. I’ll tell you folks I saw Billy Don play in so many venues and states I cannot remember every show. I DO remember a VERY cold weekend up on Altamont mountain where I got to see Billy Don take part of the “Altamont Seven”.
Stories, this album is choked full of them from having sex at Billy The Kid’s grave to catching his girlfriend cheating on him when he wrote “Where Was Love” right there in front of her, to “When Gram Parson’s Died I Was Playing Hank” because he actually was at Opryland when Gram Parsons died. You know also this past year Mr. Billy had to take a little unplanned vacation in Kentucky and we all wrote him and never left his side in fact I have his letter framed in my home museum for all my guests to enjoy.
Billy Don Burns has produced and wrote for so many people that I could not begin to name them all, he has played on the Opry with Ernest Tubb and is one of our beloved Country Music Legends that deserves this accolade right here as I move on to a couple more Legends we still have with us on this list of my greatest albums of 2016.
2. Loretta Lynn– Full Circle
Who would have thought that in 2016 someone who is this beloved of a Country Music Legend would be nominated for a Grammy for BEST Country album? Instances like this continue to reassure me that real and honest Country Music is returning much like the vinyl LP.
This album is Loretta’s first new album since her 2004 album “Van Lear Rose” that was produced by Jack White and all of the songs were written or co-written by Loretta herself . The album further went on to win a Grammy for best Country Album of 2004 and garnished further awards for Loretta, in fact she is the highest awarded female in Country Music history.
I must say that this album was so beautifully recorded and mastered that it made her sound and her style absolutely flawless in every way. The album opened with the first song she ever wrote called “Whispering Sea”, and as she stated on the album she had no idea how many songs even went on an album. It took her husband many years of hard work to assist Loretta become the mecca of an almost 60 year presence within Country Music, many miles driven and once he held a gun to a DJ’s head in order to get her album played on the radio.
This album was released in March 2016 and became Lynn’s 40th album to make the top ten Billboard best selling Country LP’s and debuted at #19 on the Billboard top 200 in one month. This album contains new songs and redone versions of older songs like her classic “Fist City” and “Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven”. Even to this day now at 84 she is one of Country Music’s most active Legends playing an astounding amount of shows, and the last thing that makes me love her so much is that she upholds her Opry responsibilities and performs the required amount of shows to maintain REAL membership.
3. Cody Jinks– I’m Not The Devil
Cody Jinks And The Tone Deaf Hippies pretty much began in 2012 when he released an album titles “30” and another called “Black Sheep” prior to that he was a guitarist in a thrash metal band named Unchecked Aggression. Mr. Cody spent many many years performing in empty bars and places where you would not go in the daytime let alone night. I recently saw him perform in Nashville where he said regarding one of his songs “I played that song in more empty bars then full ones”, you can read the review HERE.
His album “Adobe Sessions” made my top 50 last year so Mr. Cody is the first artist to make my top 50 in two years, and justifiably deserved. This album “I’m Not The Devil” sald a whopping 11,300 copies the first week after he released the album at Grimey’s in October. For the past few months Mr. Cody has witnessed a surge in attendance and this tour has been selling out venues in astounding numbers.
This album contains one song “Church At Gaylor Creek” that was wrote by number one album pick Billy Don Burns and also a fine cover of “The Way I Am” from Merle Haggard’s 1980 album of the same name. Not only is the Merle Haggard cover a damn fine job it is also the shortest song on the entire album at 3 minutes even.
If you get the LP it is actually (almost) a double album with the fourth side actually blank with artwork on the album. “Vampires” is truly a jam in a “Cast No Stones” type anthem song which has a very good crowd response when I studied his set last week. See when I watch a band I study the audience and their reactions, I watch the merch counter (for theft) but also to see what sells and I analyze my reasons why.
This album closes with a truly terrific song called “Hand Me Down” which is one of the most well written songs on the album trumped only by “I’m Not The Devil” which was co-wrote by Ward Davis who has been opening for Mr. Cody, and with great compliment to the ambiance of the show.
4. Dolly Parton-Pure And Simple
I’ll be honest folks these top 4 were VERY CLOSE in my heart, and it could’ve been a four way tie and I would have worked around it. I mean heck SHE IS pure and simple and lately she has shown us that she indeed has heart of gold for the things she has done for the residents of East Tennessee and The Great Smoky Mountain region, where she hails from.
I’m about to write some details about her telethon she announced and by the time you read this I’ll have it published and might later include a link. But this album her 43rd solo album is absolutely outstanding in every way from every point of view, save for the fact that the Billy Don Burns album reveals so much history it meant more to me as a person that loves history.
The opening song “Pure And Simple” is so upbeat and full of love you can just FEEL the emotion in her timeless vocals which were captured with such grace and elegance. All of the songs on this album complimented each other well and I thought the placement of them was good, like the second song “Say Forever You’ll Mine” which had only acoustic guitar and fiddle but still was a masterpiece.
“Head Over High Heels” was another well written tune that was astounding when I first heard it, and deepened my appreciation for her songwriting all the more, also the soulful ballad “Can’t Be That Wrong” was equally epic. This album sparked a 48 show mega tour that is still garnishing astounding revenue for everyone involved proving that PURE AND SIMPLE Country Music is coming back to the mainstream and in fact…never left!
5. The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band– Circli’n Back 50 Years Of Dirt
Every genre has Icons like the Rolling Stones that have been together for 50 years much like this band from California called the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band which formed in 1966 in Long Beach. Now to be honest this band so many lineup changes within the brand that it sparked more side bands than any other band in history accept Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys.
This album celebrates those many people as for the first time ever they step out onto the stage and together in various forms from a live show at the historic Ryman Auditorium in 2015 that included so many guests it makes this album one of a kind and the memories priceless. In today’s lineup Jimmie Fadden, Bob Carpenter, Jeff Hanna and John McEuen greet people as the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band who in fact were just announced as one of the headlining acts for ROMP fest 2017.
Jackson Browne and Jimmy Ibbotson are two of the former members of the NGDB that join the current band with former songs on the album like “Truthful Parson Brown” and the ever popular “Fishin In The Dark”. Also this album pivots toward many iconic songwriters the likes of Jerry Jeff Walker who originally wrote their hit “Mr. Bojangles” in 1970 which was included on their album “Uncle Charlie And His Dog Teddy”.
In addition to the long list of songwriters (who also is on this list as a TOP 50) was John Prine who originally wrote their hit “Paradise” that has been covered by SO MANY people and featured in a number of movies, and “Catfish John” wrote by Johnny Russell and Dallas Frazier. Perhaps one of my favorite portions of the album was the Rodney Crowell “Long Hard Road (The Sharecroppers Dream)”, I have always loved that song. This album is a MUST HAVE on your shelf of your collection.
6. Luke Bell– Luke Bell
This is the sophomore album from this Wyoming native that tried college for a little while but quickly gravitated to the Honky Tonks where he felt welcomed in the Austin music scene. He then moved to New Orleans and went back to Wyoming before eventually venturing on to Nashville where now you can see him all over, in fact the Exit/In has him next week out there.
The album opens with “Sometimes” which is already barraging listeners with steel guitar and twang that a TRUE Honky Tonk album MUST have in order to catch my attention…oh yes Mr. Luke you certainly did Sir. Even thought this album is only ten songs they are all truly fine quality songs like my personal favorite “The Bullfighter” and the ragtime some “Ragtime Blues” which sounds like a Pokey LaFarge song.
“Loretta” is a wonderful album in the middle portion of the album that showcased his unique voice off very well along with “Working Man’s Dream” One thing that I enjoy about Luke Bell is one of the things I love about artists of old, you CAN pick his voice out of a crowd of others, like Marty Robbins…YUP That’s Luke Bell! I’m absolutely looking forward to attending one of his shows VERY SOON!
The album closes with a truly soulful slow rolling song called “The Great Pretender” which features some really good piano work. This album features plenty of steel guitar solos and mighty fine Honky Tonk piano work the likes of the 1970’s when artists like Mickey Gilley were Flying High (yeah all you Mickey Gilley fans will pick up on that).
7. Margo Price– Midwest Farmer’s Daughter
I MUST SAY Third Man Records outdid themselves on this project from Margo Price And The Pricetags from the opening line on “Hands Of Time” with a powerful line “When I rolled out of town on the unpaved road, I was 57 dollars being broke”.. a long 6 minute story about her hard youth from loosing her first born child all the way up to her battle with drinking.
“About To Find Out” is a bass thumping Honky Tonk gem complete with steel guitar solos and plenty of twang to keep you two stepping and jiving your way to complete happiness. “Tennessee Song” is a well recorded rough sounding tempo dragging song with faded vocals that feature her voice so well, you can smell the smoke and liquor from the depths of the beer joints this gal came from.
Last year I got the blessed opportunity to catch her set at 2015 Muddy Roots Music Festival and even before then I was eagerly awaiting this spring album as we all were. This album ranks HIGH on every Americana Music website I know of that get a lot more traffic than mine, so I hope she loves my piece I wrote.
I LOVE the steel sound on “This Town Gets Around” and the tone of all the twang and that paintbrush pop on them drums, along with the haughty (and honest) lyrics of this song that suggests oral sex helps you become more popular…umm you bet! There isn’t ANY fooling this young lady and she sure the HELL isn’t fake or plastic on ANY front because she “Don’t write the shit that gets bought and sold” but her LP IS selling in amazing paces.
“Weekender” is a fun little ditty about being thrown in the Davidson County Jail, where you can hear a story about crack binges, domestic violence, and bad jail food. Imagining Miss Margo in one of them orange monkey suits was entertaining this song paints such an awesome story in my mind.
This young lady has a bright future ahead of her as she steamrolls her way on to Europe and other countries overseas where music like hers is highly sought after and salivated over by many. The dobro infused “Desperate And Depressed” closing song on this album is all too true and many can relate to her lyrics. One thing that impressed me was the length of the songs on this album while remaining so relevant to the meaning of the songs and not straying from it.
8. Kelsey Waldon– I’ve Got A Way
It IS indeed the year of the Americana females on this website, they just keep pouring into my speakers with much sought after style. This is another shorter record with well written songs from a young lady that comes from Ballard County Kentucky (not far from me).
Once again she has vocals that are easily distinguished among her peers and if it was included in a playlist and I was in another room I could easily concede that it’s her. I must say “False King” is probably one of the best songs I have heard in 2016 and I thought the hook in the lyrics was ingenious, as well as the opening song “Dirty Old Town” which had some really cool telecaster licks.
“You Can Have It” was a slower song but still not quite a ballad and it has a great moral lesson to it, and she has really grown a lot as an artist and a songwriter since her 2014 release “Goldmine” which gripped my attention in 2015. She claims that “I’ve Got A Way” is a forward leap in every aspect and I pretty much agree with her in many ways as I myself truly enjoyed this album.
“Traveln’ Down This Lonesome Road” was one of the songs I liked the best off this offering as it gives props to Bill Monroe and many others in her own unique way of vocal delivery. I assure you folks she is one of the real deals in independent Country Music and you MUST BUY this album!
9. Moe Bandy– Lucky Me
I have to admit these TOP 10 albums contain a lot of songs that made me cry, and Country Legend Moe Bandy succeeded upon doing just that. His voice was captured completely flawlessly on this project from the opening song of the same name ‘Lucky Me”. But it was the second song ‘I’ve Done Everything Hank Williams Did But Die” that truly riled my emotions, because the mere thought of losing him scares me from all that 2016 has taken from us. The tempo that this song uses and the fashion in which it is delivered was astoundingly Country.
This album is Moe’s first full length release since 2005 and 40 years later he is still just as perfect as he was all those years ago. However this album was produced by Jimmy Capps, now what does THAT tell you? I mean with misery songs like “Hell Stays Open All Night Long” that are riddled with regret over leaving your wife THIS IS true real Country Music that graced the airwaves in the 1970’s when Moe Bandy was a household name.
I am extremely enthusiastic about having him on my stage at Westport Roots Festival in 2017, where he and Dale Watson will be two of the featured headliners there. “It Was Me” is another one of the beautiful ballads that bring back his classic voice.
10. Mark Chesnutt -Tradition Lives
This album is the 15th full length studio album from Mark Chesnutt and his first album since 2010, seriously why did he wait this long to blow our minds? When I picked this LP up from the Ernest Tubb Record Shop this year I dropped the sleeve on the floor in disbelief that this was even made it was so good.
I just cannot believe the ignorance of “Country Radio” and how they insistently ignore works of art this epic. I mean come on people how can you purposely overlook an album of this magnitude? From the opening jukebox anthem “I’ve Got A Quarter In My Pocket” to the rabble rousing ‘Lonely Ain’t The Only Game In Town” this album take you on a tour of heartache.
“Neither Did I” has a more modern sound and I didn’t really care for it as much as the rest of the album, but it was still good. One thing that is different from pop country is that none of these songs are just filler songs to shelf three hits on an album, they are all decent. “You Moved Up In Your World” is quite the toe tapper that was well written and sounds like a classic Mark Chesnutt song for sure with great background music.
‘Losing You All Over Again” was a great steel guitar induced song full of sadness and regret that you would come to demand from one of his albums, in fact this album is his finest in the last 15 years. It easily beats the last three previous albums in every way, he outdid himself and it makes me sad I have “Never Been To Texas”…but I’m trying to change that and I’ll be introducing some more Red Dirt Country to the website in 2017.
11. Cactus Blossoms– You’re Dreaming
With the white border on the cover of this album I know it looks out of place and weird but it’s not it is actually the same size so I apologize for that. What I do NOT apologize for is including this album so high up with it’s outright gorgeous harmonies in an Everly Brothers fashion, for some reason or other people always try to compare music and they must be used to that comparison.
All of the songs on this offering are pretty decent length and arranged really well, from the self titled “You’re Dreaming” and “Stoplight Kisses” to the slow old timey balled “queen Of Them All” this album is a complete throwback to the 1960’s era radio pop music and that’s NOT a derogatory cut.
“Mississippi” sounded like something Chris Issak would have made popular and had a classic paintbrush drum sound that was quite soothing and pleasant about drinking in dives on River Street complete with telecaster twang. “No More Crying The Blues” was a toe tapping upbeat choice off the album of mine to be one of the better choices here however the entire album truly satisfies my appetite for throwback sound.
The closing song “Traveling Paradise” also included some terrific harmonies and a older tone with a high pitched steel guitar thin clean tone and relaxing vibes. This album was produced by JD McPherson and was one of my favorite albums in my constant rotation on cd.
12. Don Williams– LIVE In Ireland
From the opening line of “Good Ole Boys Like Me” you know for a damn fact this double live album was destined to be an instant classic. You just do not get any finer than that signature Gentle Giant vocals as he takes the crowd through “some Broken Hearts Never Mend” and many more of his hits from the Garth Fundis produced mega records of the 1970’s.
Perhaps one of my favorite points on the album were the ever popular “Tulsa Time” which put me back to mind of the “Smokey And The Bandit” movie where we all saw him perform and he also mentions Burt Reynolds in ‘If Hollywood Don’t Need You”. Every song on this album is timeless in it’s own right including the song ‘You’re My Best Friend” where the entire auditorium sings the song instead of him, and you can just HEAR the enjoyment in Don’s heart when they sing and you hear that deep growling “Yeah”…
Don Williams has one of the most unique and special voices on the face of this planet PERIOD, it is completely irreplaceable and will never EVER be silenced. I can honestly tell you that 100 years from now Don Williams will still be revered as one of our most special Legends. “Lord I Hope This Day Is Good” and the classic “Amanda” are also on this album.
This album closes with a song made popular also by Mel McDaniel however Don Williams recorded “Louisiana Saturday Night” first in 1978. Ireland truly got to witness an absolute treat this night and I hope with all my heart we have Don Williams around for many many more years. That classic deep growl of his salutes the crowd after the show is touching as he goes into “I Recall A Gypsy Woman” which is a lesser known song of his.
13. Tyller Gummersall– Long Ride Home
A lot of people have been congratulating this Colorado native young man about getting to work with Legendary producer Lloyd Maines and this album just absolutely blew me away when I stumbled upon it by accident while digging one day. I got to run out to Nashville and See His Set on a binge weekend of shows down there. I ran out to the store called Two Old Hippies across the street from the Station Inn.
“Rocky Mountain Man” was a descriptive journey into where he is from as a man, and the song “Better Than You Found It” was one of the most well written honest songs of 2016. Those lyrics had more heart and soul to them along with family values than anything you’ll hear on the radio (accept XM).
“Country Boy” sounds like just another copycat plastic manufactured song of the new millennium but actually It’s NOT in any way, the line about the fresh cut hay was really inventive and you can quickly tell he’s BEEN THERE and actually LIVES what he writes in every way. “Kiss Me” is a simple and easy song, easy to listen to easy to understand and just plain COUNTRY. I wanted to say how remarkably welcoming his family is to the fans at his shows his own father and mother PERSONALLY COME and THANK every person for coming. Honestly you do not get any more down home than his mom, and you can just feel their family values at this show. I don’t always include my religious beliefs on this but I am convinced God is well pleased with the way they support their son.
The only complaint I have right now is that he has so many other albums out and I first found out about him recently I feel dumb as hell on that one folks, I absolutely IMPLORE YOU TO BUY THIS ALBUM! Now when I got to see him play he had more steel guitar in the music it seemed but the song “Ghosts” was a REALLY GOOD song that prays for release of all his past loves in his broken heart. The closing song “Long Ride Home” was another descriptive song of his raising that equally paints a vivid and comforting feeling to this album.
14. – Carolina Ghost
He had been on my radar for quite some time until this past spring when he performed on W.B.Walker’s Old Soul Radio Show Third Year Anniversary Show in Huntington West Virginia at The V Club. Let me tell you I was NOT disappointed with what he brought to the table at that show, and I don’t believe Mr. Brandon was either. We ALL had just a fabulous time together enjoying everyone’s music even though it was a big job for me. It was truly a step forward for me into uncharted waters as I have never been to WV before.
One thing I liked about this LP was just like Ryan Bingham this LP was clear vinyl and it was just as beautiful as the music on it is. One of my favorite songs was the second on this album “Piedmont Sky” I just loved the tempo of it and the fashion that he delivers the lyrics of it. The song “Carolina Ghost” was a truly pleasant song about his Carolina area where he comes from, the back roads of the Carolina-Virginia borders and it paints a wonderful picture in your mind if you just sit back and listen.
“White Dove’s Wing” is pretty much my favorite pick of this offering of his with some truly pleasant dobro opening up the song, but it’s his vocals that make the song good. It’s just some uplifting GOOD music for a change, I hope I can grow old with grace. The songs are all pretty much evenly matched time wise and compliment each other well with the arrangements, the slow ballad “Uphill Battle” was another best song, VERY descriptive and uplifting. It is one hundred percent better than ANYTHING on an FM radio I’ll say that, truly a gentleman’s ballad if I ever heard one.
“Broken Hallelujah” was a nice uptempo song that makes December in Virginia sound quite attractive and warmer with whomever he wrote that song about. The beginning acoustics of “Tuscaloosa” were nice and the lyrics of this song were equally awesome, I myself like them Alabama girls they are pretty darn nice looking and so is the scenery of the state. Every song on this album is extremely descriptive and fun to sing along to, and his live shows are quite fun to see in fact he is one of the most sought after sets at Americanafest.
“Steel And Stone” is a slower song that assists in closing the album nicely with “The Reddest Rose” where once again the dobro work is exceptional and the lyrics are nice, this is one of my favorite driving albums in my truck when I just want to sail down the highway and enjoy the view. If you enjoy cheating and drinking songs this isn’t your album in fact it’s the other side of coin and that’s not a bad thing in any way, this is one of the ultimate “feel good” albums I have ever heard to be honest.
15.Chelle Rose– Blue Ridge Blood
I have to admit this album is one of the grittiest bad assed albums of the year and like I said in the opening few statements these albums don’t outrank one another simply by numbers on the list. IN NO WAY does this album deserve to be considered lower down on any lists and she deserves to never be overlooked because deep within that grit lies true beauty in her own form. I have always admired Miss Chelle because I know how difficult it is when you are dealing with health issues you cannot pinpoint to treat I have them as well.
She is one of the nicest people you will ever encounter in your life and is engaged to one of the members of the Emi Sunshine Band and released Blue Ridge Blood on her own label. Unlike her previous “Ghost Of Browder Holler” that was produced by Ray Wylie Hubbard, this album was produced by George Reiff.
The East Tennessee and West North Carolina references begin almost immediately within the form of this album in “Paintsville Table” you are already subjected to hardcore misery and poverty from a portion of the United States that often gets swept under the rug. I can tell you this all those people have up there to put food on the table is coal you either go dig or you starve..period. But I’ll tell you what, you’ll never meet a breed of people more proud or more hardworking than east Tennesseans or what are called “Mountain Folk”.
“Dammit Darin” was such a haunting and short song of lovers regret but it doesn’t need to be a long drawn out epic to understand the meaning of it all. The album quickly changes to the more upbeat “Not Your Girl” before once again flipping over to the wonderful story of her family and her “Blue Ridge Blood”. I think she just looks mean in her photos as she states in the song, having grown up in Lenoir City Tennessee one can quickly tell her roots are vividly taking form on this album and it’s the start of something totally different with her.
“Mean Grandpappy” was another haunting song about her family in Knoxville with very powerful lines like “Not a tear in the eye in any of his kin”. In fact it was one of the coldest songs I ever heard in my life, and it must have been damn hard to write and then again easy at the same time as evidently she has many memories of an evil upraising and verbal abuse. This album truly introduces you to the person that she is inside and I thought it was one of the more honest and from the heart albums I included in my list, and I thought “Hiding Hole” was one of the most simple but ingeniously descriptive songs I ever heard in my life. The music world needs to pay more attention to this young lady and I personally wish wonderful things for her, I have always been a fan of hers.
16. Justin Wells-Dawn In The Distance
Mr. Justin is the former front man for one of my favorite bands Fifth On The Floor who I had the blessing to get to them see their final performance at Cosmic Charlie’s in Lexington Kentucky and you can read about that HERE.
This album is his first solo offering to us and to be honest I wasn’t quite sure what exactly to expect from him as I knew very little of him as a solo artist, but I was indeed excited because I like his music. The album begins with a mid tempo song called “Going Down Grinnin'” that sends a positive message to me as a listener that I myself need to adhere to because I ain’t leaving till I’m done here either. This is truly a song of summoning strength from yourself and every time I am down I shall pull out this record and listen to that song.
“Still No Rain” caught Mr. Justin’s vocal very well and he sounded very stripped down and honest on this song. Some very nice story lyric about lover’s murders and looking to place blame on others for our own troubles. “So Far Away” was a cover song from the Dire Straits album “Brothers In Arms” I think everyone from the era I grew up in loved that album, it came from the “music video” era when MTV came out.
This was one of the shorter albums on my TOP 50 list however the songs on the list are all truly fine quality in every way, “Three Quarters Gone” is the way my body feels man I’m always at the damn doctor for my health issues. This song is about life’s trials and troubles. Adulthood is a hard painful journey sometimes and this song truly helps me relate with Mr. Justin quite well. I felt like he wrote it for me and THAT is what people look for in songs, you need to personally relate to them.
The album begins to close with “Can’t Break My Heart” which was a good toe tapping tune about personal fences and celebrating your own flaws, however the low and relaxed pace of the closing song “Little Darlins” about his loved ones dancing through his mind can paint a pleasant picture in your mind if you just spend time sitting back and opening your mind to creativity and SEE what he is singing…that’s half the true fun of listening to someone’s album!
17.Charlie Stout– Dust And Wind
Here lately I been a Red Dirt Country research machine, and I found him within my searches. I’m not going to lie this was an acoustic album that had me so excited I had to call people and share him with anyone who had never heard of him. Because let’s face it we cannot know every artist from every scene or genre.
“I See Stars” painted a western cowboy picture in my mind and it may have been inspired by Marty Robbins “El Paso” but if not it was truly an exciting story about a man being killed by Texas Rangers. You can actually envision the gun battles and the action. “The Years That Go By” was well written and a good song to drive to, this album didn’t need anything else other than his lighting quick vocal delivery and his inventive songs.
This was a short album however I can truly relate to songs like “The Hanging” which is a story from a point of view of a murderer about to be executed. This was truly another vivid descriptive venture about a trip to hell, this next song called “Resurrection Day” was remarkable and his finger picking style accompanies his haunting songs really well. “Set Your Eyes On Things Below” had some really good lines in the song that impressed me with his honest and graphic song writing style. I really enjoyed the stories of temptation and the Crucifixion of Jesus in the fashion he wrote about it, a scene of a car wreck and more.
The album closes with “Sinner’s Prayer” where he uses the Lord’s name in a double standard way we can all relate to. I think we all have our demons and have lost our way at one time or another, before it ends with a fifteen minute piece called “Dust And Wind” which contains..crickets. This album is an absolute MUST HAVE in your collection.
18.The Divorcees– From Labour To Refreshment
This band is from the East Coast of Canada and has been around for about ten years now this new album is their third offering to my knowledge, let me tell you this quartet just absolutely jams. This was another album that I stumbled upon by accident while surfing for new music one night.
At first the album hits you a barrage of twang with an instrumental number called “fender Bender” before going into a jamming trucker song called “5 Million Miles” which pretty much salutes what makes America function. I’ll tell you what there’s nothing fancy about this band and that’s NOT an insult actually it made me love this album SO much more than a highly produced one.
“Crowded Shed” is an outright jamming song about neighbors gathering to have good times much like we do down here in Lickskillet Kentucky. We party all night when the times call for it so we can all take care of each other. Hanging with my buddies in a crowded shed is a terrific way to spend a Saturday night. “Spend My Pay” has some terrific fiddle pieces and it’s a terrific Honky Tonk tune that compliments the rest of the album well.
What’s a Honky Tonk album without a good drinking song like “Beer O Clock” where they aren’t going to quit until at least 4:20. Ha, I enjoyed that song quite a bit I think I’ll bring this album down to the Crowded Shed for everyone to listen to while we drink.
“Saltwater Cowboy” brings a mid album Spanish tinge to the ambiance of the album with quick rolling drums and backing steel. “The Level And The Square” is a toe tapping ditty about something that today’s day and age lacks, honesty. The hammer and hard work has become an absence of youth today but we can bring that back with The Level And The Square. The album closes with a long five minute song called “Riding Off In The Sunset” man I need more than three cups of coffee daily. I enjoyed this song most as the steel pushes along a good tempo with a message you can sit back, enjoy, and let it consume your mind. This album is choked full of beautiful music and is another MUST PURCHASE in your collection.
19. Tracey Byrd– All American Texan
I’ll be the first to admit I never cared for Tracy Byrd’s music in his earlier years but if he continues to record music of this caliber he will become a Country Music Legend for sure. I didn’t reluctantly listen to it because I knew he had potential to record REAL Country Music like many of the mainstream people of his era do.
I been researching the Texas music scene this past year like a machine and this album was outstanding and a whole new direction for this artist who in my opinion much like Moe Bandy is vastly overlooked. The album starts off with a western swing influenced “All American Texan” which salutes the Dallas Cowboys and everything else Texan, from the get go I could tell this album was going to be full of the things I love and it truly blew my mind that he released such an epic project that I hope continues in this fashion.
The name “Texas Truck” made me yawn until I heard it, immediately you are barraged with western swing steel and twin fiddles the likes of Red Steagall and Bob Wills, every man should own a Texas Truck was not an wanna be song in any way. “Roll With It” was a good acoustic song about his past and some of his bad decisions, the obstacles he had to face to approach this new pinnacle of his musical journey. Roll with it as long as the road rolls on people, because that’s the message here.
“Only Jesus” was a great song, you know I still think that Country Music is the music of the Lord it represents the sinners and weak. Mr. Roy Acuff sang that God Must Love Country Music and he was correct, so what’s a good Honky Tonk album without the glorification of God? There isn’t one in my opinion and this album exalts him in many ways, I applauded his props to the man upstairs.
“it’s About The Pain” was a good upbeat tune shaming the fake Country Singers and correcting the fact that TRUE Country Music is a white man’s blues (sort of move to number 22 and re think that Sir), however it makes NO promise of anything for sure. “Take It To The Bank” was one of the best songs on the album and being the last it just made me want to repeat it and repeat again, this album is WAY UP TOP in my constant rotation. Take it to the bank BUY THIS ALBUM! This album is therapy for a rough week at work and demands a fresh cracked beer.
20. Confederate Railroad– Lucky To Be Alive
Confederate Railroad is another band I used to love back in the day and I still enjoy their first few albums but I had strong creepy feeling that this album would bring out their Honky Tonk side and their capabilities for being a rowdy beer swilling band of heathens seeking redemption for their past like the song “Lucky To Be Alive” which also boasts the album’s name.
Vocalist Mr. Danny Shirley shines out like a beacon in songs like “If I Ever Cross That Line” which was a good song to slow dance to but it also has truthful good lyrics and some damn fine piano complimenting the style of it. I didn’t care for the modern modern pitch to the re done “Trashy Women” and if you like the new sounding stuff you’ll enjoy the way it turns to that style it just turned me off so I usually skip this song.
“The Man I Am Today” is a really good two stepping song you can grab some gal to twirl around to the steel guitar to. It’s a song about becoming bitter from past relationships which includes clever jokes about women. The BEST song on the album is “Whiskey And Women” which has a deep thump and a Waylon tempo to it. You MUST have a good song about drugs on a Honky Tonk album and this time CRR has truly delivered that to us.
This album includes a fun, live version of Roger Alan Wade’s “Psycho Bitch From Hell” which they consistently play in their eclectic live sets, It’s GREAT to see this powerhouse band back to functioning again and this time they are in prime condition with a mournful past. I also “Don’t Feel As Young As I Used To” in many ways, and yeah I agree this album needed a nice Bluegrass song to close it out.
21. Jessie Dayton– The Revealer
Man this album just opens all barrels blazing with “Daddy Was Bad Ass” and it cannot get any more specific than that my friends, I mean it’s just an outlaw song if I ever heard one about an hard headed old man from back in them Steve McQueen days when bad was bad and they rolled packs of smokes up in the shirt sleeves. This album has a rockabilly beat with ALL the bells and whistles you can imagine.
It busts right out into “Holy Ghost Rock And Roller” that sounds like the old Memphis Rockabilly music the likes of Jerry Lee Lewis. This man is no stranger to the music scene having his own label for many years and in the past he produced Eddie Spaghetti’s “The Value Of Nothing”. “Eatin’ Crow And Drinking Sand” was another crude and haughty drinking song complete with some damn fine guitar solos, this man’s live show is NOT ONE to be missed I have been hearing rave reviews of them from his fans that call themselves “Hardchargers”.
One of the best song I have heard in 2016 was “Possum Ran Over My Grave” which of course was about George Jones, and it’s presented with his signature Jones style both vocally and musically. I’m pretty sure almost every artist on this here list has been influenced by George in some way shape or form. “I’m At Home Getting Hammered While She’s Out Getting Nailed” is a cover song from a band called Banjo And Sullivan from the 70’s…..actually it’s a fictional band from a Rob Zombie movie that I liked called The Devil’s Rejects…you know the Firefly family!
The last song on the album “Big State Motel” has some pretty good guitar licks on it and brought a nice slow close to an epic album that contained twelve good tracks on it. Good balance and good length to a fine recording, with a good feature of his soulful vocals when needed and rowdy ball busting vocals when called for.
22. Aaron Vance– Shifting Gears
Now this album is VERY short at a minimal seven songs however it made this list in a FLASH, simply because I heard more REAL Country Music in this man’s voice than the last ten I heard before his album. “Outlaw Jones” of course was about George and his influences BUT “Nighttime Is The Right Time” grabbed hold of me and didn’t let me go, what a GREAT fiddle song about honest Country living.
This young man was born and raised in Mississippi and he moved to Nashville in 2014 after a short stint at Ole Miss college, he presents a song called “Good Lord Willing” which contained a reference to Hank Williams famous quote “If The Good Lord’s Willing And The Creek Don’t Rise”. This album truly shined through other albums that had more money spent on producing and that makes him a “Real Deal” like his song about real women.
“Love Like This” was a really fine song full of warm fiddles and well written lyrics that even George Strait would appreciate like I did. REALLY WELL and upbeat lyrics about new found love, this buckle wearing man is truly an up and comer that once again I stumbled upon by total accident while digging one night. The song named for the album “Shifting Gears” bring you closer to him as a person, where he tells you about his youth as a preacher’s son and going from home to home. He moved to Tupelo at an early age and was heavily influenced by a truck driving grandfather that also shifted gears that brought out his style and structure of his songwriting, and after checking out his previous albums I have concluded that he deserves to be on this list!
23. Brent Cobb– Shine On Rainy Day
You know I have a pretty good feeling that this album will be included in pretty much every best of 2016 list I can think of. If the list omits this album they are foolish not only because he is related to Dave Cobb but for God’s sakes this album features some truly good songwriting. From the get go “Solving Problems” is a toe tapping “aw shucks” approach to simple Country life that people like me can relate to as I watch the old men at the diner drink coffee and tell lies at breakfast…solving all the problems of the world is all.
“South Of Atlanta” was a really melodic and descriptive song about simple Country life, like I said his songwriting ability just absolutely radiates the warmth of small town culture. “Diggin’ Holes” is a song about one of the backbones of this country that is currently getting shit on…coal. Like I already stated in my portion of Chelle Rose those people have nothing more to do work wise but dig for coal, hard working and proud. But it also references his own ability to mess up things in his life while mentioning digging graves and oil. I think we have all dug our own holes in our lives.
“Country Bound” is equally melodic and the tempo was enjoyable this is truly an outstanding album in every fashion possible save for the one thing that made me chose the one I did…history. He has released two alums thus far and although he has a bright future that will “Shine On Rainy Day” his past history still isn’t strong enough for number one…yet.
“Let The Rain Come Down” is another good song about the curse of a drought with a few hidden meanings that you will just have to find for yourself upon listening to this album. All of the songs on this album were average in length but above average in quality like “Down In The Gulley” which was about moonshine where his family made their living in his youth. Finally we are taken to “Black Crow” where he emphasizes on a terrific finger picking guitar and a story about robbery and guilt.
24. The Hocking River String Band Wildcat
I first heard about this band from an Ohio based festival I have been supporting for some time now called The Duck Creek Log Jam, which takes place in the Hocking Hills region of the state of Ohio twice a year. This band is a staple spot on their band roster as long as I have been reporting on them
Their embarking song on this album is called “Irish Exit” that has some fine banjo licks along with jumping tones that you would expect from any good string band, these guys play like a well oiled machine. ‘Ohio Bound” makes that evident as you hear about corn liquor and rolling hills with a down home warmth and welcome if you come to enjoy the music. The state of Ohio has so many wonderful bands coming out like the Tillers and these guys.
“High On A Minnow” was a song on the mid album that was a good driving song with a toe tapping flow and some fine fiddle licks along with songs like “Tree Stump” this album is a sure fire bet for the blues, if you still don’t feel like buck dancing then you aren’t a string band fan here. The shortest song on the album is called “Color Wheel” was actually the more clever from a song writer’s point of view.
“Trap Door” was a hauntingly good song about the gallows and as this album draws to a close you truly come to realize how talented and overlooked this band truly is,I don’t understand why more attention is not paid mind to them. “Heavy Hearts” was the closing song on this album, nothing like a parting song of true lament for a string band album like this. It is for certain a mixture of good and bad times that can alter your bad mood quickly, just give this band a chance to grow on you and you’ll see the raw talent here.
25. Shovels And Rope– Little Seeds
This album was by far a titanic addition to their collection of already stellar albums for a band that pretty much was formed by accident. Thirteen songs at over Forty Five minutes makes a longstanding epic album full of jams, “I Know” blasted right off into their common Americana sound. It set up a good foundation for songs like “St. Anne’s Parade” which was a four minute piece of fun that featured their harmony in blessed form.
We haven’t heard from them with any new music wise since 2014 but their cover album was really good, and their live shows usually feature some of their solo music as well as their music together. “The Last Hawk” was a good song about traveling all over the place, it’s a true gypsy song for the wandering soul. “Buffalo Nickel” was one of the better songs on the album with clever lyrics.
“Missionary Ridge” was a true story about the Battle Of Missionary Ridge during the Civil War near Chattanooga Tennessee. It’s a pretty cool song that paints a vivid picture in your mind for sure.
26. John Prine– For Better Or Worse
Remarkable, I don’t believe there is an album that a Legend like John Prine could make that ISN’T good. This album is just stuffed full of so many guests and simple Country music you cannot overlook it. He is very much included in my number five pick, and this album isn’t much further behind it. “Who’s Gonna Take Your Garbage Out” was a simple easy to understand song about men and our shenanigans.
This recording captures John in his glory and despite his health problems he is in total top condition for classics likes “Storms Never Last” with Lee Ann Womack complete with background music that makes this a total grand slam album. “Falling In Love Again” was a beautiful duet with Allison Krauss that combined their voices so very well, John Prine sounds so majestic on this album his soul shines just pure shines out to the world here.
“I’m Telling You” was a great song that is a duet with Holly Williams with a western swing tinge to it. “Remember Me” was a song I enjoyed on what I consider the greatest Country album of all time Willie Nelson’s “Red Headed Stranger”. Another great song on this album was “Look At Us” made popular by Vince Gill and I could just keep on going at how many classic songs John recorded on this album for us to enjoy.
There is a truly wonderful version of Cold,Cold Heart with Miranda Lambert on this album and “Mental Cruelty” with Kasey Musgraves. The powerhouse combinations just keep coming at you on this album and do not stop until you press the repeat button for the CD to play again!
27. Randy Rogers Band– Nothing Shines Like Neon
Once again my love for this sound of Red Dirt Country from the Texas and Oklahoma scene have overwhelmed me so heavily here the last few weeks. One of them is the Randy Rogers Band who have several albums out on the market and this album was a fine addition to an already impressive lineup. “San Antone” was a truly jubilant opening tune about his favorite place in Texas. Bringing us around again for another trip to amazing land is “Rain And The Radio” . Truly a great two-stepping tune about fun living and falling in love, this album also has some wonderful happy messages and great lead guitar licks.
“Neon Blues” is another great drinking song that sounds like it could have been a mid nineties hit but it still facilitates the rest of this album very well. It just maintains a REAL Country meaning while giving us modern people something to relate too as well, the broken heart of a woman done wrong and the fact you can’t pick her up.
“Things I Need To Quit” is a rabble rousing party song about the morning after., and much like the next album on this list this one is some of his finest work to date. You just have to quit letting a love gone wrong trample your heart cause you are just letting her (or him) win.
“Taking It As It Comes” is a fast paced song guest starring powerhouse Legend Jerry Jeff Walker that is a Red Dirt Anthem to it’s fans with a beer swilled message to just roll with life’s punches. The closing song “Acti’n Crazy” guest starred Jamey Johnson and was equally eloquent an anthem as the former song. One of the more beautiful ballad songs on the album was “Old Moon New” that was about new found love and the happiness of new romance.
28. – Follow Your Arrow
Blackberry Smoke is one of the many bands that have been on my TOP 50 for one year after another. This band from Georgia that went from small clubs to arena shows are one of the many success stories I have witnessed in my tenures as a hobby writer the likes of which now is my TOP pick Cody Jinks. What was once a small venue local show has blossomed into a mighty juggernaut that consistently sells out venues everywhere they roll.
Speaking of roll “Waiting For The Thunder” opens this album just like it’s name thunder. This five piece band is louder than thunder in their true dual lead guitar fashion the like of Skynyrd and the Black Crowes. These boys are truly the modern day Southern Rock champions from the underground that rose to fame. I hope they continue to “Let It Burn” for many years.
“The Good Life” is a good slow paced song about just what it says the good life, don’t cheat yourself out of a truly blessed life. Just do “What’s Comes Naturally” with that good piano sound and classic Blackberry Smoke fuzzy sound on lead guitar. What has become another classic piece of their sound is the bass thump they have. Another good point is this album is a lengthy forty nine minutes and twelve songs.
The self titled “Like An Arrow” is four and half minutes of doomy guitar riffs complete with harmonics and string bends and was vocally recorded well. Things change and time keeps a rolling but the band will fly like an arrow, hopefully those wheels keep rolling from town to town. One of the best song openings was “Sunrise In Texas”, which looks at the world from a darker perspective and at the same time it looks at the world from his lucky standpooint. the point is don’t always be so unhappy because there are always others worse off than you. It kind of makes you look in the mirror and judge yourself for a brief moment.
The last two songs were “believe You Me’ which had some more really guitar hooks and a funk sound to it, man I miss the old funk sound like George Clinton and you just don’t hear much of it anymore. There is such an eclectic array of styles on this new album it showcased their creativity and their influences well. Finally we have “Free On The Wing” which entails the freedom we have and the choices we have to be the best we can be life. This album sends a powerfully positive message to whomever takes the time to really listen to the lyrics.
29. The Honeycutters– On The Ropes
This fourth installment of the Honeycutters boasts some of the best vocals from front woman Miss Amanda Anne Platt to date. This makes a perfect follow up to 2015 “Me Oh My” as it opens with the self titled “On The Ropes” which proves this album is one of Americana’s finest offering of 2016, and I’m pretty sure that most websites like mine will include it in their year end lists. This song is about getting knocked down and being strong enough to rise back up and swing!
“Blue Besides” displays some smooth vocals and warm backing steel guitar with a steady beat. One great line on this album was Love Aint never black and white it’s pink and grey and blue besides. This is a witty and encouraging comeback album and if you need some self help this album is an upbeat inspiration.
“The Only Eyes” is another steel infused waltz type song with well written lyrics and messages. This is about the world of loving someone through her own eyes a very special perspective to whomever she wrote it about. These are the eyes to follow the telephone wires to come home to you was a VERY good line in this song.
This is quite a lengthy album for sure at a whopping thirteen songs, “Back Row” is another upbeat song that grabbed my ears but the constant references to black and grey brought me to relate to every song the same but different in their own right. “Piece Of Heaven” is a nice little ditty about taking a love for granted and lonliness, pretty much one of the better songs on the album. Great acoustic strumming and once again a shade of white.
“500 Pieces” is another song about heartbreak and woe, Platt has very special songwriting skills to present her own scars and makes them significant to my own feelings and as a listener I find that a remarkable quality. The album’s closing song “Barmaid’s Blues” paints a vivid picture of a loser in a barroom touching on everything lost in his life like they were waiting on the last train home. This album for sure is a loser’s lament in every way.
30. Kill County– Broken Glass On The Sun
Like many other bands I also stumbled upon this one purely by accident from digging pretty deep one bored afternoon of researching. This whole album just absolutely blew my shoes off when I heard it, forehead slap I never heard of them until just then! I tell you what I am in constant research and networking in order to find and feature every band I possibly can within many genres and this one I was proud to have found if even by accident.
This album was recorded in a basement in a borough apparently in a mere six days, and it was recorded in a hazy, haunting fashion and their website says they are from Lincoln Nebraska. These five guys fashion a true humble mountain sound with subtle rings of banjo over acoustic and strings with songs like “Beat Up Iron” that makes an old factory rat like me feel right at home as I work in extreme cold and heat and my worn out body carries on.
“7 Million Broken Hearts” is a terrific waltz that has some great harmonies as well as the song “Line Of Sight” which has more than one lead singer, the five band members are Josh James Ringo, Brad Kindler, Joe Salvati, Jon Augustine and Bobby Dale Crawford. Now, this album is a lot shorter than most on my list but what it lacks in length it has in quality in the songs like the self titled “Broken Glass In The Sun” which is a soothing anthem for the lonely.
“Bad Gasoline” is one of more mid tempo songs on the album with good finger style picking. I also liked the “December Winds” ambiance of Iron Working and blue collar work ethic that it entails. Back to a day when the steel and coal mines thrived and the rust belt and trucking made America proud to be a working class….now gone are the picket lines and scars of a beat neck man. I think those times were carried away by the cold December Winds…
31. Hackensaw Boys– Charismo
I got to cover The Hackensaw Boys at this year’s Muddy Roots Music Festival where they played an amazing set on stage 2 that afternoon. On that afternoon I was treated to a heaping helping of their new album named after their famous home made instrument made from cans and hubcaps strewn about their sixteen year existence.
Their classic string band sound adorn this album of eleven songs all were wonderful tunes that compiled a truly fantastic album of Americana. “Don’t Bet Against Me” has some damn fine fiddle opening sound and is a positive message to listeners and struggling people. “By And By” is one of the fantastic songs on this album with an upbeat toe tapping groove to it. The whole crowd singing Hey Hey By Your Side!
“Flora” is one of the songs that showcase their instrument Charismo very well with a sad song about a gal that wouldn’t care if they died tomorrow that kind of reminded me about some of my past loves that never knew I was there either. “Happy For Us In The Down” was a great song with a low brush shuffle that is one of the middle songs with terrific harmonies and tempo.
“Ol Nick” was a banjo infused rabble rousing song that was good live, along with “Wolves Howling” which was a stomping good mountain song complete with all the tin can action one could possibly want from this bunch. As this album closes with “Worlds Upside Down” the fiddle and strings assault your ears and your mind with music.
32. William Clark Green– Live At Gruene Hall
Yeah yeah I know this TOP 50 has been loaded with an unusual array of live albums but I felt every one of these live albums deserved to be on this list for sure. Like the name states this album was recorded live at Gruene Hall in Texas and I have been researching quite a bit of Red Dirt Country lately for this website, and this album is no slouchy effort in any way shape or form.
The first album opens with a thumping version of “Next Big Thing” which this album pretty much is the next big thing. Now this album is much too large to include a song by song commentary of the entire album although I wished I could. “It’s About Time” was equally good in it’s own right and style, with rocking backups.
“Creek Don’t Rise” was a really good addition on this album, as he did a wonderful choice on the assortment of songs from his previous albums on this project. “Fool Me Once” was a great song about newfound love and the first album closed with “Gypsy”
The second album was equally full of good choices like my favorite song “Wishing Well” and “Ringling Road” off his 2015 release album of the same name. The closing of introducing Jack Ingram for “Goodnight Moon” was a perfect way to end a perfect album…I cannot think of a better way!
33. Travis Harris And The West Coast Turnarounds– The Truth And Other Lies
This album the second feature of my good friend Travis Harris And The West Coast Turnarounds, and just as I assumed it was a total blasting jam Country album as you tour the story of “Moonshiner’s Last Ride” where the revenue man wins the gun battle and the Moonshiner is hauled away in a hearse.
“Them Eyes” is a good Honky Tonk honey song about a devil in disguise woman which features some truly good steel guitar licks and a solid Country beat and it is followed with “Bring It On” which welcomes on the hardwood floors and whiskey soaked tables of the corner Honky Tonk. This band writes simple easy to understand waltzes like ‘She Used To Call Me Baby” that just make you want to drink copious amounts of beer, she used to call me baby now she don’t call at all…good hook.
“Burn It Down” was probably the most well written song on this album with stellar Honky Tonk thump that I LOVE to hear, I mean I just love that hard core sound and genius lyrics. Burn it down till it’s ashes is a good way to burn a memory deep down in the holler. Finally one of the songs that stuck out to me was “Million Dollars A Day” which asks what about them steel guitars and prison train songs. Just good solid strumming and a two-step beat.
34. Joey And Rory– Hymns And Stories That Are Important To Us
This link shall take you to their amazon page where you can buy this album because after the sad death of Joey Feek this past year their websites haven’t been totally operational all the time. This album was available at Cracker Barrell stores and it is filled some truly beloved Gospel songs that glorify the Lord Jesus.
I do not often juxtapose religion or politics on my website nor do I ever argue or debate them much but I do have my own opinions of both and I absolutely adored this album in every way. From the vocals only of “Take My Hand Precious Lord” to the ever popular ‘He Touched Me” this album will enrich your soul with it’s warmth and honesty.
My personal favorite “The Old Rugged Cross” was a perfect rendition of this song as was “How Great thou Art” and another popular song “I’ll Fly Away”. You know you just cannot go wrong with glorifying your religion and if you are a Christian this one will surely warm your heart because “Jesus Paid It All”.
The loss of Joey Feek rattled the entire realm of Country Music in many ways and to be honest there will never ever be another Joey And Rory in the world ever again….period.
35. Julian Davis– Make Americana Great Again
Muddy Roots Music Festival presented us with a heaping helping of this young man that is prevalent on the Kansas City local scene and is one of the largest up and coming artists on Little Class Records. This young man is one heck of a prodigy on many instruments and I’m going to be honest with you this year at the Nashville Boogie which is also Muddy Roots at the Nashville Palace his version of Motorhead’s “Ace Of Spades” blew my mind.
“Fan It” right off the bat is already a barn burner from the band the hay burners, complete with fiddles and all the bells and whistles you could possibly want from an Americana album. “My Window Faces The South” is a truly exceptional song that showcases his influence from ragtime music. All of his songs are just absolute jams and easy to relate to.
“Kansas Plains” was one of my favorite swing songs on this album that revealed some lightning fast guitar solos, I’m telling you this young man has such lightning fast chops you’ll be picking up your hat off the floor. Just as his version of “Freeborn Man” which features a REALLY crazy fret board journey through his guitar neck and features some powerful lyrics and songwriting on his originals.
And I also liked the Pokey LaFarge song “What’s The Matter With The Mill” and the last song on the album “Midnight Rider” it was a perfect choice to close this album out with a bang!
36. Dale Watson– Chicken Shit Bingo LIVE
I recently got to see this man perform his songs during the Muddy Roots Nashville Boogie this past spring and he released this live album from the Big T’s Roadhouse where they play chicken shit bingo and Country Music all night. The Lonestar beer is never in short supply as he does his Lonestar commercials all through the album and you can “Sit And Drink And Cry”…along with the best free hot dogs in the land.
“Where Do You Want It” was a good version of a Billy Joe Shaver Classic song along with others like Merle Haggard’s “The Bottle Let Me Down” and Jerry Reed’s “Amos Moses”. However this album is also filled with many of his own original songs like “Honky Tonkers Don’t Cry”.
This album gets you eye to eye with his steel guitarist Mr. Don Don with the “Don Don Boogie”. It actually has quite a bit of dialogue but it fits the ambiance truly well with funny announcements and games with the audience. But overall the album was recorded and performed with exceptional style and showmanship.
37. Husky Burnette– Ain’t Nothin’ But A Revival
I believe this to be Husky Burnette’s third album is a complete gritty masterpiece as he growls out his lyrics and rips that guitar a new asshole. In true Husky form he plays that signature slide guitar with beginning palm mutes and bends. It’s a loud and wild rocket ride into the dirty blues of Husky town!
“Best I Can” and “Kick Rocks” were two fist pounding no ladies man songs at two hundred ninety pounds, filled with more raw solos and screaming pedals infused into his barrage of music missiles. “Chicken Grease” was my favorite jam on the whole darn album and in many ways the lyrics are simple and easy to send your soul into the depths of funk.
Rusty Knuckles has outdone themselves this year on new releases and this album is truly one of them. I simply cannot wait to hear these songs live like the harmonica filled “Busted Flat” to the slow groove of “When My Train Comes”.
38. Paul Cauthen– My Gospel
This album is one of the finest solo debuts I have ever heard in the last few years from the very first song on the album “Still Drivin'” to the next one “I’ll Be The One” this album will NOT disappoint and will be included in MANY TOP 50 lists of 2016 I’m sure of it. Amazingly enough I was thinking to myself this last year that I was severely missing the iconic LP covers with all the Legends smoking cigarettes on the cover, like Porter Wagoner and Gene Watson on his album “Reflections”…this man made one of those covers.
“Still Drivin” was a terrific opening song about his hardships in this business and asking when is HIS break gonna come and he’s NOT quitting. That’s a GOOD thing if you are a fan like me because we need this man around for good, and we need his honest style of delivering his songs to us. His voice and expression is nothing like I have ever seen in today’s underground scene it sounds very unique. I think he’ll be “The One” to help others usher in a new sound in the local scene with his self anthem of not giving up.
At only eleven songs this album was rather lengthy in it’s own right and stood out unlike any other because of it’s difference in sound. “Grand Central” brings us closer to his own heart at rock bottom of life and it’s named My Gospel for a reason as you become more familiar with his own testimonies. “Saddle” was a more modern sound about riding that had a western theme with a style unlike any other I can describe and that’s not a bad thing, it’s a fantastic album.
“Be There Soon” had a backing choir singing with him that gave a religious feel to this album and all those backing vocals gave his own vocals even more power on songs like “Hanging Out On The Line” his voice is even more amazing and shines like a beacon in a sea of “sound a likes”. His website said he was always the strongest and loudest singer in the room and I believe that…I truly do.
“Let It Burn” is a piano filled ballad that I had to put on repeat several times I loved it that much. As a former troubled teen myself I relate truly well to Mr. Paul’s past as my own and I had to let many things in my own past burn as well. As I stated before this album is his truth and “My Gospel” is one of the most dark and poignant forms of honesty and triumph I have heard all of 2016.
39.- Landon Dodd– What Comes Natural To A Fool
Leave it to Mr. Tracey Pitcox over at Heart Of Texas Records out there in Brady Texas to bring a masterpiece like this to us. If you like the Texas Traditional two step scene like Heather Myles and all those you will absolutely adore this album. It was recorded TRULY well and the steel guitar sound and solos were captured with more grace and dignity than any other album on this list. “What Come Natural To A Fool” came out swinging and resulted in a knock out with simple lyrics and true Country sound.
“All They Serve Here Is Misery” is a song that comes straight out of the 1970’s when Honky Tonk music was lonesome and sad and people escaped to dance and drink their problems away. “Because Of You” was a lovely waltz with warm steel sound backing his breakup song of recalling his past and explaining how she turned into a stranger. People change and people drift but the Country sound does neither on this offering…it gets intensified.
“One Bar At A Time” is quite possible one of the best songs on this album as he explains to his wife he’s coming home one bar at a time, as with many other alums on this list the songs are very easy to understand and relate with. “Our Paths May Never Cross” is a good slow song about never meeting the one you are supposed to be with. Life has that funny way of never pitting two people together that could be. “Barstool Mountain” is a cover song of course as with many of them and I overlook that when the songs are fresh and original in their own right.
“Loving You Could Never Be Better” as he sings about passion in the eyes of his lover and like I previously stated it’s just easy to understand and relate to. Just hold her and fan those flames of romance, it’s just good old fashion Honky Tonk music from both sides of the coin..newfound love and real passion…and broken hearts and misery.
40- Matt Woods– How To Survive
Muddy Roots Music Festival 2015 brought introduced my ears “The American Way” and after his set I had to ask him what was it called and he said “I don’t know probably The American Way. It was nominated for song of the year on other websites and I don’t have one of those but I’ll tell you what if it doesn’t bring a tear to your eye you aren’t listening close enough.Speaking from an old factory employee myself I easily related to the hardships of being tossed away like trash after years of hard work and body aches.
This follow up to Brushy Mountain is absolutely amazing in every way and “Fireflies” is another well written song of his…I want to say I have saw him perform many times and he commands the stage quite well in his own fashion of expressions. He never fails to play an amazing set, and I immensely enjoy his performances.
“A Good Man” is a good song about dealing with life and a story of the ones the wolves pull down. About making a stand and fighting for what’s right in life even when the chips are down. Out of all the local shows I attend he is one of my favorite songwriters of all and has always been a genuine friend to me, always quick with a handshake and pleasant greeting to me. “Love In The Nuclear Age” I thought would be a political song however it was a song of survival, followed by ‘Lorraine” written about a storm with some very descriptive lines within the song. Mr. Matt always does a good job of painting a picture in your mind with all of these songs and as a listener that’s what I look for.
“Little Heartache” exists as a true testimony of trying at love and living with heartache and dying within that world. Guilt and self doubt can easily kill your self esteem and sometime we are our own worst enemies. “Name To Drop” was a song about moving to the East Coast with no references to help his background and coming to Nashville and living alone. The album closes with “No News” which also references the East Coast again so I can see the direction in his mind as he expresses his heart to us on this wonderfully recorded project here, and I thank him for sharing his feelings with us on this one. YOU MUST HAVE this album in your collection!
41. Urban Pioneers– Feast Or Famine
Folks I have had the pleasure to witness the fury of these three on many occasions and many festivals across the United States. They are one of the bands I have saw in many states and different places. This being their third album which was recorded this past spring right before the Westport Roots Festival where I reviewed and featured the album HERE.
As always Miss Liz Sloan’s fire fast fiddle shines on this album from the very beginning song of “Maybelle’s Farewell” with swift sawing of a Russian type whirlwind of an instrumental to the comical song of “He Didn’t Know My Name Back Then”. Which tells a great story of the underdog and how they can surprise you by giving them a chance.
“Behind The Wheel Again” comes from a hard working band as these people are always on tour playing a whopping 300 plus shows a year, as well as guest starring on many other albums like the above mentioned Matt Woods album. You can always find them on tour in every state in the United States. AND this next spring they ARE reuniting with Mr. Jayke Orvis and the Broken Band…you didn’t hear that from me…YET!
“Lazy Bones” showcases more of their slapstick comedy as a duo whose set is often filled with jokes and stunts, they are also planning a skit based comedy show which is in the planning stages right now. I’m SURE the show will contain jokes like “Never Had A Waffle At The Waffle House” which is a pretty self explanatory song, however hilarious nonetheless.
Finally we have the AWESOME story “Mary The Elephant” about a dancing elephant that was treated very poorly and abused by a cruel keeper whom ended up getting smashed to death by the elephant.
42.Western Centuries– Weight Of The World
I LOVE THIS ALBUM, with it’s good vocals and true craftsmanship of a DAMN FINE band that plays like a well oiled machine. Simply because this band blends so many influences and styles together and reveals to us what makes them tick. “Weight Of The World” was truly good but the next song “Double Or Nothing” is what hooked me in and drew me to their steel infused Honky Tonk sound all their own. It makes you want to dance and drink and bet Double Or Nothing on your broken heart.
“Knocking Em Down” was another good Country song it’s just too bad that mainstream music isn’t showcasing more bands like this,with music this honest and true. Whatever happened to true music the likes of this band and others of their ilk?
“Sadder Day” was a good Honky Tonk shuffle that doesn’t come around that often nowadays and when I heard that song I almost dropped my coffee cup…THE SOUND is what I have been looking for as a listener for YEARS. And also the song “Philosophers And Fools” with it’s western swing and fiddle solos is a true musical rarity nowadays even within the Roots and Americana scenes.
“Hallucinations” was another good choice off this album just a good two steeping song of greatness and you can tell that many songwriters contributed to this one project in many ways. I am hoping this band can make some Nashville appearances on their tour. This band shows great harmonies on “Got You Off The Shelf” with a bluesy sound and shuffle to an already great album of different sounds. “The Old You” was equally a terrific song of coming from town to see the Country but not much of it is leftover anymore, it speaks of the rapid decline of the Country in the name of progress.
43. Dwight Yoakam– Swimming Pools Movie Stars
If you are a Dwight Yoakam fan such as I am, this is a MUST HAVE album for you as basically it is a Bluegrass version of his current songs but the songs he choose were exquisite. Many of them were from his best album (In My Opinion) “If There Was A Way”. Like the song “Sad, Sad Music was and the fashion that it is recorded is absolutely soul numbing.
“What I Don’t Know” fits the traditional Bluegrass murder ballad perfectly with the what I don’t know just might get you killed theme, along with his classic ‘Guitars Cadillacs And Hillbilly Music” is equally captured in rare form with the arrangement on this feature. “These Arms” feature some really good fiddles and banjo rolls and in some instances these arrangements are even better than the originals.
Once again “Two Doors Down” was a choice off above mentioned album that describes a Honky Tonk song about bar rooms and whiskey soaked hurt and the signature Hillbilly twang even with all the Bluegrass style. One thing I wish The Colonel Jon Hensley was here to witness was Dwight’s version of Prince’s “Purple Rain” off of his iconic album I’m SURE BOTH of them were smiling down from Hillbilly Heaven.
I LOVED the spoons on “Please Please Baby” that truly made me smile as it surprised me and finally the song “Gone, That’ll Be Me” was a banjo jam that made me want to TRY to get up and dance…I cannot dance!
44. Ponderosa Aces– Honky Tonkin My Life Away
I was being relentlessly contacted by this band for quite some time to review their album but I just don’t really feel qualified to do reviews per se I do features. I finally got some time to sit down and listen to these boys play and man I just absolutely enjoyed their Honky Tonk sound.
The first song “Judgement Day” GRABBED ME with the line bunch of sins in my pocket…clever lyrics and the harmonies with all the ranges was like a Statler Brothers kind of thing going on here, but with twang…west coast twang. You do NOT hear much west coast twang anymore and their steel player is fabulous. He’s going to be a part of a project I have planned for next year.
“Night Of A Couple Of Heartaches” is another fast paced song that I enjoyed about drinking, well this whole entire article is about drinking songs pretty much that’s what Country revolves around. I’d say I was Honky Tonki’n My
Life Away” in many ways but I just cannot escape the grip of that sound! Their sound is fresh and different from the rest of the Honky Tonk albums on this list in the style the music is presented but the song subjects are similar to many of them.
“Roadside Shrine” had the best sound I have heard in quite a while I love the steel guitar tuning on this song and the anxious feeling of coming up on hotels and bars on the road. “Hit The Door” was a classic song on this album…all of these songs complimented each other truly well and made the album an overall treasure.
45. The Devil Makes Three– Redemption And Ruin
This is the ultimate party band call them Roots, Ragtime, or whatever you want I just call them a downright JAM with some flute and string band type songs like “I’m Gonna Get High” these songs just make you want to find a gal and swing her around on a hardwood floor.
The song “Waiting Around To Die” was covered by many last few years and I loved their version of this one, also the song “I Gotta Get Drunk” their version of that song was GREAT as well. I have always been a BIG fan of Devil Makes Three, GREAT live shows one of my favorite bands to go see. This album was one of the only albums I enjoyed of all covers on it.
“I Am The Man Thomas” was another great string band jam complete with spoons and fiddle runs throughout the song about the crucifixion of Jesus and his nail scars in his hands. It also touches on his burial and resurrection when he revealed himself to Thomas in the bible. “Come On Up To The House” was another fast paced jam in true hymn fashion welcoming friends and neighbors alike to partake in life’s grand party. “Down In The Valley” was another good choice and after you dwell in this album for a period of time you can see why it’s called Redemption And Ruin it’s almost a story album.
The album closes with “Angel Of Death” a cover of an old song that many have recorded the likes of Hank Williams. One of his more dark and haunting tunes he ever recorded and has always been a staple song on both Country and Metal albums alone.
46. Jeff Shepherd– Jeff Shepherd And The Jailhouse Poets
I first heard of Mr. Jeff from Mr. Chris Miller on Blue Ribbon Radio, well it wasn’t actually on the show but it is what he’s known for doing. Anyways I was turned on to Jeff Shepherd and the Jailhouse Poets through him and when this album came out I placed it in my pile. I finally got to listen to it and was excited to hear songs like “Jukebox Junkie” that I thought was a cover song of the same Mark Chestnutt name song…..ummm NO this song rocked!
This album is a vocal triumph for this man and his performance at Muddy Roots Music Festival this year helped me decide this album to be on this list, but to hear the album and the rocking guitars with the whole scheme is an awesome feat. I loved the song “Tragic Love” with the fist pounding song about scared arms like a tragic love song, this album has some pretty dark songs about addictions. It had some truly well written lines I could relate to, and it sounded like he wrote the song for ME….that’s what I want as a listener.
“California” has some wonderful steel and banjo work with once again familiar lyrics about self doubt and being your own worst enemy. Man I just went through it the other day being my own worst enemy, times only made me jaded too buddy. We all have the ability to do it and stop ourselves sometimes whether you blame others or not.
“Forever Young” contains more haunting and genius lines about death and all that goes along with it, also it boasts some damn fine guitar licks and backing music. “Broken” was another song on this album that stuck out to me and I admired the words, I also liked the tempo and the breakup story. Pretty much anybody could identify with this song and I think we have all been through it.
47. Michaella Anne– Bright Lights And The Fame
I don’t truly remember WHERE i heard about this young lady but I’m SO glad I did. “Living Without You” is exactly what it says living without a loved one, truly a good broken up and lonely song. The line “The world goes on just because someone’s in pain” is a good line. What a powerhouse opening song to an album from a young lady that is destined to go places within the Americana genre.
Her smooth glassy vocals were embedded in my memory like ink from the very first song to the second one called “If Only” about missed opportunities and the “what if” things were switched around…haven’t we ALL felt that way about an ex?
“Bright Lights And The Fame” took this album in a totally different direction as a two stepping Honky Tonk album that I thought was a Margo Price song, I LOVED IT and it changed the whole tempo of the album. You can identify with her many influences here on this album and also she has a stellar band backing her on this follow up album.
“Everything I couldn’t Be” is another REALLY GOOD song about some gal looking at an ex getting married and happily ever after and lamenting that she wasn’t good enough. Truly a well written “grass is greener” song that EVERY Honky Tonk album NEEDS!
“Easier Than Leaving” was a great D chord strumming song that had the BEST vocals on the whole album! The way she carries the notes on this song is just heavenly and sorrowful all at once, WOW it’s so full of emotion and hurt. This whole album needs to be immortalized on the Gary Hayes Country website the line “I smell her on your skin” was REAL GOOD and gave me goosebumps. Truly a good cheating song from a gal who cannot handle being a jaded victim of a dangerous life event.
One of the last songs I want to touch on was “What Good Is Water” another good hook What good is water when you don’t have will? This is just a home run album and overall I am absolutely impressed with it in every way.
48. Jack Ingram– Midnight Motel
This album has a lot of dialogue but it is really good and relevant and you can learn a LOT about the album from the talking. “Old Motel” was a good start to this album that painted a good picture in my head of the ever popular ratty motel story every musician has.
I wanted to say that the song “Blaine’s Ferris Wheel” was almost my most interesting song I heard all year and the story behind said song is truly exceptional. You HAVE to listen to the dialogue FIRST BEFORE the song, it’s SO long and elaborate I cannot even re print the entire story here. “I Feel Like Drinking Tonight” was another really good song on this album however it isn’t my favorite album he has it is indeed a viable candidate for second spot.
“What’s a Boy To do” was a slow and soothing song with gritty vocals and a slightly lonely meaning. Maybe it means the sadness of miscommunication or words never said? Maybe it means something else, I’m not totally sure but I can certainly come to my own conclusion and interpret it how I can.
“Champion Of The world” is SO ME, and it is a anthem of finding the right girl. I haven’t found her yet but I’m surely looking for her, this was a really good story about being a lucky man. We aren’t always perfect men but sometimes you don’t always see the whole entire picture.
49. Jon Pardi– California Sunrise
This album is perhaps one of the most commercial I have on this list as far as FM radio is concerned because they sure don’t play Dolly and Loretta. Now he is one of the powerhouses that are hard to contact but I’m sure he will find out about being on the list sooner or later.
“Head Over Boots” was a rather corny line to me at first BUT the more I listened to it It kind of grew on me and got me to liking it, but the opening song “Out Of Style” was a true jam. I could tell he was targeting what I call the “normies” you know the guy that married a soccer mom with cursive initials on a car sticker..she wears a black shirt that says love pink. But he has managed to attract a whole different crowd whether it was intended to or not.
This album has crank and pound behind the rock and roll guitars and banjo plunks I associate with pop country which makes it maintain realism to me. It spoke to me and vocally “Cowboy Hat” was a fine piece of work you can drink and dance to. I have seen some gals that look so good in nothing but a cowboy hat.
“Paycheck” was a great double meaning song that spoke to his paycheck to come on Friday however it also referred to Johnny Paycheck coming and saving him, SMART! “All Time High” is a rocking song about women which targets couples too, I can see people saying this is “our song” and paying to see it live. So from a marketing standpoint I see pure genius behind this man.
50. Jamie Richards– Latest And Greatest
Well folks if you are STILL HERE I THANK YOU reading and I hope you buy these albums. This is the final deal here and it’s a damn fine album from a truly nice guy. His vocals are so much like many others in a good way it was like a breath of fresh air here. “Last Call” was a good song about calling his ex after the bar while he’s drunk, and getting hung up on. Excellent song of lament and heartache and feeling like a big boy while drunk…we may have all done it once in our lives.
“Second Hand Smoke” was another absolute masterpiece of songwriting genius and I applaud him for that one it was so wonderfully arranged and presented. “Whiskey Night” was a good ballad that sounds like it could have been a Ricky Van Shelton classic from the 1980’s and again that’s not a bad thing either. Very good slow song about regretting your actions while drunk and I’m sure all of you have been haunted by demons at one time or another.
This fourteen song behemoth album right here is the perfect album for everyone and “Cold As The Beer She’s Drinking” is a true story about bar women that can wrap you around her finger with her looks but she just wants your drinks, man once again this fellow hits it right on the head with common ground songs that speak to the masses.
There you have it folks I have worked VERY HARD bringing you this list of my TOP 50 of 2016 and WHY they made the list NOW THEN I had another list that had some honorable mentions for 2016 and I’ll just copy and paste it for you on here without links, it’s just too long of a list:
Hard Working Americans- Rest In Chaos
Michael Martin Murphy- High Stakes Cowboy Songs VII
Chris King- Animal
Johnny Lee- You Ain’t Never Been To Texas
Austin Allsup- This Weary Land
Dallas Wayne- Songs The Jukebox Taught Me
The Reverend Horton Heat- Hardscrabble Woman
Al Scorch- Circle Round The Signs
John Doe- The Westerner
The Horse Traders- I Don’t Mind
Fireball Mail- Bending The Rails
Daniel Romano- Mosey
The Local Honeys- Little Girls Acting Like Men
Bonnie Bishop- Ain’t Who I Was
Elizabeth Cook- Exodus Of Venus
Nester Andress- Falling In Love
Mike Ryan- Mill And Music City
Adam lee- Sincerely, Me
Bradley Walker- Call Me Old Fashioned
Red Simpson- Soda Pops And Saturdays
Austin Lucas- Between The Moon And The Midwest
the Boxcars- Familiar With The Ground
Chain Station- Where I Want To Be
Don Gates- Almost A Cowboy
Sierra Hull- Weighted Mind
The Wild Feathers- Lonely Is A Lifetime
Cooder Graw- Love To Live By
Jill Kinsey- Just Jill
Lorrie Morgan- Letting Go…Slow
Aubrie Sellers- New City Blues
Jeff Shepherd And The Jailhouse Poets
Gene Watson- Real Country Music
Casey Miller And The Barnyard Stompers
Greensky Bluegrass- Shouted, Written Down And Quoted
fruitition- Labor Of Love
Sister Sparrow And The Dirty Birds- Fowl Play
Reckless Kelly- Sunset Motel
Midnight River Choir- Fresh Air
Robert Earl Keen- Live Diner Reunion
Whiskey Myers- Mud
Tami Neilson- Don’t Be Afraid
Tim Easton- American Fork
Cody Johnson- Gotta Be Me
Kree Harrison- This Old Thing
The Goodmans- Live In Texas An Unforgettable Evening
The Royal Hounds- Poker All Night
Ryan Cain And The Ables- Cupid And The Devil
Pat Reedy And The Longtime Goners- Highway Bound
The Mavericks- All Night Live Volume 1.
Tanya Tucker- Live At Church Street Station
The Bottle Rockets- Audio Tree Live
Dale Watson- Under The Influence
Dallas Moore- Live At The Bulliet County Jail
JonEmery Dods- Americana
Willie Nelson- Willie Sings Gershwin
Those Poor Bastards- Sing It Ugly
Vince Gill- Down To My Last Bad Habit
Hank Williams Junior- It’s About Time
Larry Keel- Memories
Mack McKenzie- A Million Miles
Grant Lee Phillips- The Narrows
Parker Milsap- The Very Last Day
Waco Brothers- Going Down In History
Lucinda Williams- The Ghost Of Highway 20
Greg Garing- Am I Even A Memory
Chris Gantry- Nashville Rhapsody
Flatland Cavalry- Humble Folks
Lincoln Durham- Revelations Of A Mind Unraveling
Truck Stop Gamblers- Here
Sweet Ga Brown- Weapons
Hayes Carll- Lovers And Leavers
Derek Hoke- Southern Moon
Western Centuries- Weight Of The World
Boo ray- Sea Of Lights
Jake Flint- I’m Not Ok
The Time Jumpers- Kid Sister
Lydia Loveless- Real
Dex Romweber- Carrobo
Luke Winslow-King- I’m Glad Trouble Don’t Last Always
Wade Bowen- Then Sings My Soul
The Drunken Cuddle- Electric Cat
Wayne Hancock- Slingi’n Rhythm
Jackson Taylor- Which Way Is Up
Robbie Fulks- Upland Stories
Darrell Scott- Couchville Sessions
Rob Baird- Wrong Side of The River
Aaron Einhouse- It Ain’t Pretty
Moondawg Hall- Road To Sanity
Terry Allen- Lubbock
Paul Cauthen- My Gospel
Brandon Jenkins- The Flag
Jamestown Revival- The Education Of A Wandering Man
Todd Snider- Eastside Bulldog
The Avett Brothers- True Sadness
B J Barham- Rockingham
Emmylou Harris- The Complete Trio Collections
Rodney Parker- Bomber Heights
Amanda Shires- My Piece Of Land
Chatam County Line- Autumn
Casey Donahew- All Night Party
John Paul White- Beulah
Lori McKenna- The Bird And The Rifle
The Gibbonses- Among The Rubble
Chris Stalcup- Downhearted Fools
The Earls Of Leichester- Rattle and Roar
Paul Eason- Black Horse Mesa
Dolly Shine- Walkabout
Lew Card- Follow Me Down
Green River Ordinance- Fifteen
Austin Meade- Heartbreak Coming
Casey Daniels Band- Backroads And Moonshine
Logan Mize- Ain’t Always Pretty
Jimmy LaFave- Trail Five
John Clay- Now It’s Time
One Crow Sorrow- Something To Value
Campbell Station- Already Gone
Anna Elizabeth Laube- Tree
Clint Bradley- Riding After Midnight
Creed Fisher- Rednecks Like Us
Kalyn Fay- Bible Belt
Rachel Laven- Love And Luccheses
Nick Dittmeier And The Saw Dusters- Midwest Heart
On Safari- Kentucky Headhunters
Tattoed Heart- Ronnie Dunn
Got Dressed Up To Be Let Down- Jack Grelle
Michigan Rattlers- Michigan Rattlers
Babe Miller- Room 242
Jericho Woods- Better Now
Miranda Lambert- The Weight Of These Wings