11 Country Music Albums We Are Most Excited About In 2017

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With 2016 finally in the rearview mirror, for better or for worse, it is time to look ahead to the next 12 months. Country music has always remained one of the most dependable formats, with superstars and songwriters alike keeping tradition and pushing the envelope in immeasurable ways. From the likes of Nashville heavy-weight Natalie Hemby (one of Miranda Lambert’s go-to collaborators through the years) to superstar act Carrie Underwood, there are more than a few albums we are most excited to wear out proudly in the new year.

11 Country Music Albums We Are Most Excited About In 2017:

1. Puxico // Natalie Hemby

Premiere songwriter is finally issuing her debut studio album. Coming off massive contributions to Lambert’s expansive double album, The Weight of These Wings, Hemby is poised to stake her own claim on country music with a collection aptly titled Puxico, a tribute to her hometown in the great state of Missouri. Fortunately, the record is already getting a First Listen treatment over on NPR, and trust us, it is setting the bar extremely high for 2017.

Release date: Jan. 13

2. Chris Stapleton

Stapleton’s massive debut album Traveller continues to be country music’s best-selling disc, nearly 2 years later. Whatever and whenever he releases the follow-up, country fans will be willing to spend the big money. As long as he continues his soulful blend of country and rock, his album is fail-proof. Stapleton did play an unreleased “Broken Halos” during Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountains Rise telethon.

Release date: TBD

3. Road Less Traveled // Lauren Alaina

“American Idol” season 10 standout is readying the release her sophomore album, and it has been a long time coming (and that’s not hyperbole talking). Five years removed since her Wildflower debut, Alaina has grown tremendously, as both a songwriter and a vocalist. Armed with her first-ever Top 20 hit, with the title cut, she is positioned for a major breakthrough in 2017. Finally getting a proper recording of her exquisite “Same Day Different Bottle” will be well worth the wait.

Release date: Jan. 27

4. Cam

Cam is expected to drop a new single any minute now. Despite her Untamed era coming to a rather abrupt halt last year following tepid success of “Mayday,” we are more than ready to move on to her next record. Here’s to hoping something akin to “Hungover on Heartache” or “Want It All” as her lead single.

Release date: TBD

5. Songs of Faith & Hope// Reba

Reba’s voice is one of a kind. With a career as prolific as hers, it’s rather surprising she is only now releasing a gospel album. Better yet, it’s a double-decker, featuring classic hymnals and brand new tracks. There’s no question it will be one of the year’s finest collections.

Release date: Feb. 3

6. Carrie Underwood

Rumor has it, Underwood has already begun putting songs on hold. While it is still in its early stages, a new album could potentially come in the fourth quarter. 2015’s Storyteller witnessed the singer challenging herself to play with varied influences, ranging from Delta Blues to glossy, Patti Page-esque pop. She’s demonstrated she is far more than boy-bashing anthems, murderous gothic tales and inspirational hymns–she is more than ready to go to that next level.

Release date: TBD

7. Shania Twain

Twain has been plotting her return for well over a year, with countless songwriter retreats and nights recording in the studio. Her last album, Up!, was released roughly 15 years ago. Twain, it’s time to come on over (back to music domination).

Release date: TBD

8. The Breaker // Little Big Town

Led with the monster hit single “Better Man,” written by none other than friend and songwriter Taylor Swift, the four-piece’s follow-up to 2014’s Pain Killer is shaping up to see a return to their roots. If they get anywhere near the marvel of 2010’s The Reason Why or even 2005’s The Road to Hear, we’ll be satisfied.

Release date: Feb.24

9. Faith Hill

Hill treated fans with a Deep Tracks compilation last year, containing three previously-unreleased songs including the wonderful “Why.” It has been over a decade since her last all-original, non-holiday album–Fireflies landed in 2005, if you can believe that. Over the past several years, she has released such one-off singles as “Come Home” and “American Heart” but nothing substantial stuck. Here’s to 2017 bringing Hill back to the spotlight.

Release date: TBD

10. Trophy // Sunny Sweeney

Sweeney, known for such hits as “From a Table Away,” provoked us with her last studio album in 2014. Now, she readies her next installment and is set up to be one of 2017’s most progressive and boldest projects.

Release date: March 10

11. Freedom Highway // Rhiannon Giddens

The Americana singer gives the format necessary street cred, infusing blues and gospel into her work. Coming off new Grammy nominations for Factory Girl, the stage is set for her most impressive record yet. The title cut was originally recorded by the Staple Singers in 1965 and details the fight for freedom during a troubling and harrowing time in America’s storied history. There is no better time today to push for change in music and no one better to take it on than Giddens.

Release date: Feb. 24