Continuing the countdowns, I now give you the Top 20 Countdown for Country, Americana, Folk, and Bluegrass music. I like to affectionately call this one the “Down Home” Countdown.
As always, this is my list only, take it as you may…
Starting at #20 and counting down…
20) Jackson Browne – Standing In The Breach
A true return to form for Mr. Browne. Great feeling tunes with socially conscious lyrics. The title track is a real stunner.
19) Seth Savage – My Dear
Really great, well crafted tunes here. Another one that’s been in my car for a while.
18) Mike Tramp – Museum
Most know Mike for his White Lion days but he’s carved out a really great career doing Americana style tunes with a touch of Springsteen and dare I say, I think it fits him well. This is just chucked full of amazing tunes.
17) Old 97’s – Most Messed Up
Fiery, Rockabilly style Bluegrass. Some might even call it Cowpunk. I just call it awesome.
16) Blackjack Billy – Rebel Child
Killer crafted modern country tunes that transcend the whole “Bro Country” thing happening. This band reminds me a lot of Little Texas, Kentucky Headhunters, and bands like that. Really fun listen.
15) Nickel Creek – A Dotted Line
A brilliant return to form for this trio. Bluegrass with a progressive edge and crystal clear vocals throughout.
14) The Whiskey Prophets – Recoil
The cover photo of this one should tell you all you need to know about it.
13) Kasey Chambers – Bittersweet
Kasey is one the best female artists in Country and Americana, imho, and one of the few females who ranked on any of my lists this year. The fact that she’s not more well known is borderline criminal. This is pure class on every level.
12) Red Eye Gravy – Dust Bowl Hangover
This is one you just have to hear for yourself. Definitely NOT for the weak heart crowd. This is FIGHT MUSIC done Oklahoma style!
11) Tom Russell – Midway To Bayamon
Combining two earlier releases that were cassette only with 8 new tracks, this is classic Tom Russell in every sense. One of the best story tellers in all of music.
10) Corey Smith – Maysville In The Meantime
Corey returns doing what Corey does best. Acoustic driven country tunes with just a touch of Americana. There’s something about the way he delivers a tune that makes you want to keep on listening.
9) Billy Joe Shaver – Long In The Tooth
Billy Joe has seen it all and it shows in his writing. Classic country delivered just like Hank would have done it.
8) The Mascot Theory – Hand Me Down Miracles
HUGE vocal melodies on top of layered guitars. This screams early Eagles only better.
7) Mountain Sprout – Long Time Comin’
Outlaw Music done in a bluegrass style. This is moonshine sippin’ music right here!
6) Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds In Country Music
Sturgill returns with his sophomore CD and continues to show will old school country is still better! This is as close to the Waylon days you’re going to get anymore.
5) Gangstagrass – Broken Hearts & Stolen Money
I first heard this group on the TV show, Justified, and was hooked. It’s an unholy alliance that just works. Bluegrass and East Coast Hip Hop shouldn’t mix well but Rench makes it work in genius ways.
4) Levi Lowery – Levi Lowery
Levi delivers a CD full of tunes here that are amazing on every level. There’s not a clunker in this bunch and would have been #1 on any normal year.
3) Parker Millsap – Parker Millsap
The debut release for this 21 year old Oklahoma kid. Mixing a classic feel with some fire in the belly songwriting, I sense a bright future ahead for him. Truck Stop Gospel is one of my favorite tunes this year for any genre.
2) Mat D. & The Profane Saints – Holyoke
One of those once in a decade releases. Lead singer Mat D. is hands down one of the best songwriters in the business today. This guy is Picasso with a guitar. One of my most played CD’s this year.
And bringing us to #1
Marty is one of the most hand working, respected players in Nashville and deservedly so. This huge collection of tunes showcases everything that he is about. You won’t find a better collection of tunes this year. Not a clunker in the bunch and each one delivered in a style that only Marty can pull off.