By Joshua Wallace
2019 has been a crazy year for good albums. It was tough keeping this list narrowed down to just 50. I probably could have doubled it this year. 2019 saw many good releases across the genre from bluegrass to southern rock to folk and even in the mainstream. This list touches on all of those areas and is purely based on what I enjoyed the most throughout the year. Gary Hayes will have his own list coming up soon. I reviewed many of these albums throughout the year and will link to those reviews where I have them. I highly recommend checking out every record on this list. Let’s kick things off with the album of the year and Top 20, and then immediately following that, will be 21 – 50. You can follow along with my process of forming this list throughout the year on Twitter at @JWOUTLAW13. One final note : my list is totally independent from what Gary Hayes does on the Gary Hayes Country lists.
**ALBUM OF THE YEAR** 01. Ian Noe – Between The Country **ALBUM OF THE YEAR**
I first became aware of Ian Noe back in late 2017 when he was opening for Colter Wall and had just released an EP called Off This Mountaintop. I was very impressed by him live, and if the EP was any indication, the album would be amazing. Fast forward to May 2019 and here we have the debut record Beyond The Country. This album lived up to the hype and then some. Make sure you catch Ian Noe in small rooms while you can because big things are in store for him very shortly. Check out my full review of this album right here.
02. Mike and The Moonpies – Cheap Silver and Solid Country Gold
I knew Mike and The Moonpies were working on new material because they played some of this album live when I saw them in March, but I was not expecting a record like this. The album was almost a surprise release and I did not expect involvement of the London Symphony Orchestra which took this album to another level. This is by far the best Mike and The Moonpies album yet. The band is also killer live, be sure to see them when you can. Here is my full review of the album.
03. Cody Jinks – After The Fire
Cody Jinks surprised everyone with not one, but two album releases in 2019. After The Fire came first, shortly followed by The Wanting. After The Fire wound up being my favorite of the two overall with tracks like “Ain’t A Train”, “Think Like You Think” and “William and Wanda” rounding out an amazing set. Check out my full review of both of the albums here.
04. Joshua Ray Walker – Wish You Were Here
Joshua Ray Walker was one of many great debut albums in 2019. His voice and songwriting are the highlights of this record. “Canyon”, “Last Call” and “Burn It” are the tracks that have stuck with me through the year. I look forward to the chance to be able to see him live soon. Check out my review of the record here.
05. Cody Jinks – The Wanting
This is the second of the two albums that Cody Jinks released this year. The Wanting is on the level with After The Fire, I just felt the earlier set had better songs. Some of my favorites from this album that I still have on my playlists are “Same Kind Of Crazy As Me”, “Where Even Fear To Fly”, “Which One I Feed” and “The Raven and The Dove”. Check out my full review of both this album and After The Fire here.
06. Billy Strings – Home
Billy Strings is on a mega run right now. His 2017 album Turmoil & Tinfoil was a great bluegrass record with some good jams thrown in. His new 2019 release Home finds him expanding on the jam sessions and experimental aspects of his music. It’s an amazing record that finds him fusing the jam band elements of his live shows with the traditional bluegrass sound that he has perfected. There is also the amazing electric guitar work on the title track that could be a tease of more electric stuff from Billy to come in the future. Fingers crossed. I recommend checking out the entire record with this one. Here is my full review of this album.
07. Jason Hawk Harris – Love & The Dark
This album surprised me with how good it was and it has grown on me even more since reviewing it. Songs like “Phantom Limb” are immediate favorites, but then you get to tracks like the punk rock inspired “I’m Afraid” or “Cussing At The Light” with it’s amazing pedal steel work. It seems like I come across something new I like every time I listen to this record. Check out my review and give it a spin for yourself.
08. Erin Enderlin – Faulkner County
Erin Enderlin released an amazing traditional country record with her 2017 album Whiskeytown Crier. Her new record Faulkner County picks up right where that one left off and is one of the best traditional country albums of 2019. Jim “Moose” Brown & Jamey Johnson are once again producing this album and it’s a great collection of songs. Be on the lookout for some familiar back up singers throughout this record. Read my full review of the record here.
09. Whiskey Myers – Whiskey Myers
It can be hard to pin a genre on Whiskey Myers. Sometimes they’re southern rock, sometimes they’re straight up rock n’ roll and sometimes they’re country through and through. All that matters is this is one amazing album. Check out songs like “Die Rockin'” and “Gasoline” for rock tracks to get the blood pumping and other songs like “Little More Money” and “Bad Weather” that make the case for this being a great country album too.
10. Tyler Childers – Country Squire
Tyler Childers has had an amazing rise since his 2017 album Purgatory. He went from playing smaller rooms to selling out Red Rocks Amphitheater and other large spaces. His second album Country Squire finds him recording some of the songs that he has been playing on the road for a long time so fans were familiar with many of them. On this record “Creeker”, “Country Squire” and “Bus Route” remain favorites. Check out my review of the album here.
11. Ben Jarrell – Troubled Times
I have been familiar with Ben Jarrell’s music for a while now. I was a fan of his Florida based bluegrass band Gators In The Sawgrass so I knew he was an amazing songwriter. Then comes this album and it’s probably one of the best outlaw country leaning records you will hear in 2019. It’s the kind of album you wish Sturgill Simpson was still making. Check out my review and give this record a listen.
12. Zach Bryan – DeAnn
I first heard of Zach Bryan from a tweet by Texas country singer/songwriter Parker McCollum. I thought it was a solid recommendation so I checked out the album. I was not disappointed. What you will find here is as raw and as real as it gets. I think big things are in store for Zach Bryan in the future and we will be hearing this name a lot more very soon. Check out my full review here.
13. Jon Pardi – Heartache Medication
Mainstream country music is doing alright in 2019 with releases like this. Jon Pardi put out one great album in Heartache Medication. Some of my favorites are “Me and Jack”, “Tequila Little Time”, “Call Me Country” and “Tied One On”.
14. Luke Combs – What You See Is What You Get
This is another great mainstream album in 2019. Luke Combs is leading the way in the resurgence of a throwback 90’s country sound that is coming back to country radio. I really dig this album and with 17 tracks there is bound to be something you’ll like. Check out favorites like “Even Though I’m Leaving”, “Lovin’ On You”, “1, 2, Many”, “Dear Today” and “Angels Workin’ Overtime”. Check out my full review here.
15. Molly Tuttle – When You’re Ready
Molly Tuttle is an amazing guitar player and singer/songwriter. When You’re Ready is her first full debut album, but you can tell she is a seasoned performer. Songs like “Light Came In (Power Went Out)”, “Take The Journey” and “The High Road” have remained favorites throughout the year with this album.
16. Cody Johnson – Ain’t Nothin’ To It
Cody Johnson burst into mainstream country with this release Ain’t Nothin’ To It. This is his sixth LP but his first with a major label behind it. Songs like “Doubt Me Now” and “Yall People” are great starters. I love the “Long Haired Country Boy” cover and “His Name Is Jesus” is a great live acoustic track as well.
17. Paul Cauthen – Room 41
Paul Cauthen continues to bring the funk with Room 41 which is his second full length release. The Texas Gentlemen are once again his backing band here and the album goes even further into funky country territory with songs like “Freak”, “Big Velvet” and “Cocaine Country Dancing”. There are some softer moments here where Paul’s amazing voice gets to shine on songs like “Give Em Peace” and “Slow Down”. Check out my full review here.
18. Vincent Neil Emerson – Fried Chicken & Evil Women
Fried Chicken & Evil Women is Vincent Neil Emerson’s debut release. It showcases his knack for classic country music and good songwriting. Check out favorites like “Willie Nelson’s Wall”, “Letters On The Marquee” and “Highway Shine”. Read my full review right here.
19. Kelsey Waldon – White Noise / White Lines
Kelsey Waldon released an amazing record with White Noise / White Lines. Some of my favorites on this album are “White Noise / White Lines” and “Sunday’s Children”.
20. Jacob Bryant – Practice What I Preach
I was a fan of Jacob Bryant when his “Pour Whiskey On My Grave” single hit in 2018. That single stuck with me all the way through to the album release and this record lives up to the hype. He has a similar 90’s throwback sound as Luke Combs, but with more traditional country elements which shine in songs like “When I Get On A Roll”. There’s also the Merle Haggard tribute “25 In Jail” and other awesome tracks like “Pain Pain” and “Hot Mess” that make this Number 20 on my Top 50 Albums of the year. Check out my full review here.
The Best Of The Rest:
21. Emily Scott Robinson – Traveling Mercies
22. Lillie Mae – Other Girls
23. Randy Houser – Magnolia
24. The Highwomen – The Highwomen
25. Miranda Lambert – Wildcard
26. Steel Blossoms – Steel Blossoms
27. Orville Peck – Pony
28. Aaron Watson – Red Bandanna
29. Tanya Tucker – While I’m Livin’
30. Chris Knight – Almost Daylight
31. Kendell Marvel – Solid Gold Sounds
32. George Strait – Honky Tonk Time Machine
33. Ryan Bingham – American Love Song
34. Jericho Woods – One Perfect Sound
35. Vandoliers – Forever
36. Chelsea Wolfe – Birth Of Violence
37. The Steel Woods – Old News
38. Midland – Let It Roll
39. Dallas Moore – Tryin’ To Be A Blessing
40. Randy Rodgers Band – Hellbent
41. Dee White – Southern Gentleman
42. James Carothers – Songs & Stories
43. Jenny Tolman – There Goes The Neighborhood
44. Hayes Carll – What It Is
45. Michaela Anne – Desert Dove
46. Ottoman Turks – Ottoman Turks
47. Alice Wallace – Into The Blue
48. Lauren Jenkins – No Saint
49. Jason James – Seems Like Tears Ago
50. Runaway June – Blue Roses