Top 10 country albums of 2017, according to Katie Hutchinson (@TravellingWilb)
10: THE PROJECT, Lindsay Ell
Definitely one to watch… This girl is going places! I covered The Project as it was released and had it on repeat for like 3 weeks solid. I love Linds and what she stands for. She stays true to who she is, even if some people don’t view her work as ‘traditional’ Country. A record inspired by one of her biggest influences, John Mayer, it is full of beautiful and perfectly reflective gems. I still feel like she didn’t get the recognition she deserved for this one and faced so much irrelevant and un-called for stigma, that she most definitely did not deserve, relating to her relationship with Bobby Bones.
Favourites: Worth the Wait, Mint and Champagne.
9: UNAPOLOGETICALLY, Kelsea Ballerini
Kelsea is a one-woman powerhouse, it’s that simple. Vocals to die for and a pure writing talent, both showcased on this 12 track, ode to her life. Unapologetically, is just that. This is a record that brings heartbreak, strength, sass and love to the table, all wrapped up in a gloriously successful, Country/Pop crossover.
Favourites: Miss Me More, Legends, Machine Heart.
8: LAMBS AND LIONS, CHASE RICE
After a total career overhaul, Chase comes back fighting, with the highly anticipated Lambs and Lions. He has been nothing but vocal on his intentions to move away from his ‘Bro-Country’ past and bring something more to the table. This album is just that. It showcases vulnerability, with probably his most personal collection to date. But, on the flip side, he hasn’t totally lost his up-beat, get that party started vibe either. Take a bow Chase, take a bow.
Favourites: Saved Me, Jack Daniels Showed Up, Amen.
7: THE BREAKER, Little Big Town
There isn’t an album these guys release, that isn’t a smash hit. A deliciously mixed bag of upbeat and heart-wrenching, the Foursome have done it again. A Country Fleetwood Mac, that have successfully achieved the Country/Pop crossover, track after track is flawless. Let’s be honest, there aren’t very many voices that could take on Karen Fairchild!
Favourites: Happy People, When Someone Stops Loving You, We Went To The Beach.
6: FROM A ROOM VOL 1 & 2, Chris Stapleton
Come on now, it’s Stapleton… do I really have to explain this choice? Chris refuses to categorize himself and the collection of musical magic that we have between these two albums, you can easily see why. A showcase of stylistic versatility and unfaltering delivery. I still can’t listen to Either Way without a pack of tissues. These 2 albums are a gift, from an artist at the top of his game. Stunning vocals that are filled with emotion and delivered with effortless power. My only (very small) issue… they aren’t long enough.
Favourites: Hard Livin’, Either Way, Midnight Train To Memphis,
5: THIS ONES FOR YOU, Luke Combs
The first time I heard Hurricane, I knew this guy was going to be HUGE! He literally came from nowhere and quickly etched himself onto the hearts of Country lovers, worldwide. I don’t care what kind of country you are into, this album has got you covered; heartbreak, Honky Tonkin and of course a little beer drinkin’! There isn’t a single track that I don’t know every word to. A killer set of pipes, that has a sound so distinctive that you couldn’t mistake it for anyone else. I cannot wait to see what else is to come from LC.
Favourites: Honky Tonk Highway, When It Rains It Pours, Memories Are Made Of.
4: HAPPY ENDINGS, Old Dominion
The boys spoiled us this summer with their second album… and what an album it was. They have truly excelled themselves with the follow up to Meat and Candy (2015). A 12-track exhibition of their growth as a band and artists. We are treat to a live show recording of Can’t Get You, because the guys didn’t feel studio production got the most authentic sound for the track, and the show-stopping New York at Night, has guitarist Brad Tursi on vocals and takes the album to another level.
Favourites: Shoe Shopping, New York at Night, So You Go.
3: BRETT ELDREDGE, Brett Eldredge
Castaway… I mean, I can’t even.
This is a self-titled masterpiece. Brett couldn’t have done any better with this if he tried. It really is his best work to date; honest, autobiographical and vulnerable. This is one of those records, that will give every listener an individual experience, depending on your own life experiences. A heart-warming, relatable and tear-jerking masterpiece, with some fun injected- it wouldn’t be Brett otherwise would it?!
Favourites: Superhero, Castaway, Brother.
2: LEGACY, The Cadillac Three
The most Country record from the Southern Rockers to date! I LOVE these guys, they’re badass and their music has that ‘Hell Yeah’ vibe, that is a force to be reckoned with. Jaren’s voice is something that just cannot be replicated and this for me is one of the most underrated albums of the year. Gaining themselves a fair amount of radio airplay at home in the States and over here, I really want to see the TC3 blow up next year. They deserve it! True musicians, masters of their craft and one of the most authentic Country sounds around (whatever that is defined as anymore).
Favourites: Ain’t That Country, Tennessee, Take Me To The Bottom.
1: SLOWHEART, Kip Moore
Kip Moore is one of those artists that doesn’t come around very often. He’s a special sort and yet, will ALWAYS be overlooked because he knows what he wants, hell he knows his fan-base better than most artists out there, he refuses to sell out and won’t release a record just to stay current. We’ve waited 2 years for Slowheart- and it was freaking worth it. Self-produced, writing 11 of the 13 songs and gives us an album nothing short of poetic, reflecting on his life thus far, both on and off the road! It’s gritty, fun, cheeky, hopeful, reflective and authentic. The Kip Moore trademark is solidly stamped all over it. He’s a fighter and this record has just as much bite. If this isn’t up for awards next year, with several number 1’s under the belt, I think I might just give up on the industry. It really doesn’t get any better than this.
Favourites: ALL OF THEM!!!! (Guitar Man, Fast Women, Last Shot… if you’re holding a gun to my head)