Our Favorite Albums of 2017 (In No Particular Order)
Sunny Sweeney - Trophy - A longtime favorite of mine who put out a career best album for 2017, Sunny continues to mature as an artist, and is really hanging it all out there. This album was real, personal, and honest. “Bottle By My Bed” was my #1 song of the year, I still get a lump in my throat when I hear it.
Rod Melancon – Southern Gothic - One of the most eclectic albums I heard this year. Rod has an incredible ability to take you exactly where he wants you to be with his lyrics, and the instrumentals compliment them perfectly on every song. Dark and brooding with a few glimmers of light, Southern Gothic was named aptly and well done start to finish.
Becky Warren – War Surplus (Deluxe Edition) - I did not intend to include re-releases, but the additional songs included really round off what was an already great album. Less political, and more personal, this is one of the most real feeling albums I have heard in some time. Somewhat of a concept album, she deftly illustrates the rise and fall of the characters she introduces us to, and before long we feel for them both.
Travis Meadows – First Cigarette - This one grabbed me on first listen, and won’t let go. First Cigarette has all the hallmarks of the quality singer/songwriter formula; highly relatable, hints of Springsteen, and feels autobiographical at times.
Don Vickers – Judgement Day - The best album you didn’t hear in 2017. Almost criminally under the radar, Judgement Day blew me away with solid honky tonk the whole way through, and solidified a spot on my “Best of 2017” list immediately.
Angaleena Presley – Wrangled - When you cast a wide net, you have more potential to miss the mark; somehow Angaleena hits all the bullseyes. Walking the line of Country and Americana, she has found a niche that fits her well, and her lyrics get sharper every time you listen.
Zephaniah OHora – This Highway - The best classic-style country album of 2017, hands down. Not much else needs to be said when it’s this good. Nearly flawless, never gets old, and feels like an album found in a forgotten recording studio with 40 years of dust on it.
Nikki Lane – Highway Queen - Nikki is always the tops, but this one felt a step above. Her district voice is a stamp on each of her retro chic ditties, and she is the first I think of when I look to introduce someone to the strong and proud female country singer. “The Highway Queen don’t need no king”
Slaid Cleaves – Ghost On the Car Radio - Each better than the last, Slaid continues releasing some of the best music in the business, and this one is no exception. Rich with visualizations and metaphors, Ghost On the Car Radio continues the long tradition of the quality folk singer/songwriter.
Ray Scott – Guitar For Sale - A career best, Ray continues to hone his craft, that of the talented country singer who isn’t afraid to have some fun. It never fails to amaze me how well he can put together an emotional song, then put that tongue right back in his cheek and make sure you know he isn’t taking things too seriously.
Caroline Spence – Spades and Roses - Caroline has a voice just as amazing as her ability to describe the human condition, and it’s never been more apparent than on Spades and Roses. As if a full-length album wasn’t enough she also dropped a killer EP of B-sides titled Secret Garden, that included 4 acoustic renditions of songs from Spades and a cover of the title track, originally by The Boss.
Charley Crockett – Lil G.L.’s Honky Tonk Jubilee - I didn’t intend to include cover albums, but Charley blew my socks off with nearly flawless covers of timeless classics, all made his own with his signature vocal styling.
John Baumann –Proving Grounds - Kicked off with the real and honest intro song “Here I Come”, Proving Ground pulls double duty as a career best and an introduction to anyone only now hearing him for the first time. Stretching out his own shoes, Baumann is defining his craft.
Dori Freeman – Letters Never Read - In 2016 Dori introduced herself with a self-titled album that garnered critical acclaim. Letters Never Read is no different in that respect, but it also pulls the curtain back on her musical influences. She pays them great respect on an album that showcases only one thing more; her voice.
Jason Isbell and The 400 UnitThe Nashville Sound - Predictably great, it still surprised me with all of its substance. The Nashville Sound continues Jason’s streak of lyrical genius set to music by The 400 Unit. “If We Were Vampires” sets a new standard for the real world love song. High expectations met in spades.
Aaron Watson – Vaquero - Independent country’s torch bearer dropped 15 songs and an instrumental on us in 2017 with Vaquero. At times classic cowboy and at times radio friendly, the diverse selection creates an album you can pull songs from for any mood. Aaron proves you don’t need a record label to have a top 10 song on country radio…Just 20 years of grinding.
The Steel Woods – Straw In The Wind - The southern rock genre has been seeing a bit of a resurgence, but no one is doing it better than the Steel Woods right now. Pictures painted with a lyrical brush, sung with classic southern swagger, and put to a soundtrack of broad instrumentals; all masterfully played and well produced.
Whitney Rose – Rule 62 - Few are paying tribute to the strong ladies of Country’s past better than Whitney Rose. In an album full of standout tracks, “Trucker’s Funeral” is a nearly perfect storyteller tune that draws you in early and keeps you there for the long haul. The future is bright for this young lady.
Deryl Dodd – Long Hard Ride - Double D dropped his greatest hits album with a twist; re-imagined, re-recorded, and featuring some of the biggest and brightest names in the Texas Country Scene. I’ve never been a fan of greatest hits albums, but I’d buy more if they were all done like this.
Ags Connolly – Nothin’ Unexpected - Stumbling on this English country crooner was nothing short of a treat. With a voice that feels folky, Ags emotes all the real-world feelings of folk music, set to the tune of classic style honky tonk.