It’s that time of the year again. The time of year when we all can get overstuffed with turkey, cranberry sauce and Mama’s homemade apple pie without judgement. And, when we are finished circling the dinner table for seconds, thirds and (most likely) fourths, it’ll be time to hit up Black Friday sales for some serious music to gift family and friends.
This year has been a roller coaster. We’ve lost some true pillars of the music community, like Merle Haggard and Holly Dunn. But conversely, we’ve been treated to some of the best albums of any genre, like Miranda Lambert‘s The Weight of These Wings and Brandy Clark‘s Big Day in a Small Town. Country music never lets us down, that’s for sure.
So, as Thanksgiving Day looms only a few days away, it’s time to sit down and give thanks.
10 Albums We’re Most Thankful For This Year:
Miranda boldly released her double-album The Weight of These Wings earlier this month. The album, which is packed full of pain and heartache, gifted us with groundbreaking songs like “Tin Man,” “Pushin’ Time” and “Runnin’ Just in Case.” For the album, Miranda teamed up with a slew of outstanding tunesmiths, including Natalie Hemby, Anderson East and Shane McAnally, to not only heal her heart and soul, but to format some authentic storytelling.
2. Midwest Farmer’s Daughter // Margo Price
Honky-tonk diva Margo helps usher in a new era of country music with her album Midwest Farmer’s Girl. Much like what happened in the mid to late ’80s, country is returning to its roots. Margot’s debut album is a rich tapestry of Willie Nelson and Loretta Lynn-style performing, wrapped tightly around gutsy songwriting and one of the best voices working today. Standouts include “Hurtin’ on the Bottle,” “Hands of Time” and “Tennessee Song.”
Drake’s gritty, soulful voice is enough to get any country fan standing at full salute. His debut LP is impressive — it’s contemporary, plucky and never loses its way. Standouts include “Story,” “Heartbeat,” “Back to Free” and “Makin’ Me Look Good Again.”
4. Big Day in a Small Town // Brandy Clark
Brandy just might be the most criminally underrated artist in the mainstream business. Sure, industry publications and journalists certainly give her enough credit, but country fans, by and large, haven’t picked up on her songwriting magnificence quite like the rest of us. Her sophomore effort, following 2013’s 12 Stories, did not fall victim to the sophomore slump. In fact, she unravels a vast collection of songs pinned together by a common thread: small town living. Songs like “Homecoming Queen,” “Three Kids No Husband” and “Daughter” are among the year’s finest moments.
5. Risk of Loss // Carl Anderson
If you are looking for something a bit earthier, a bit more outlaw, Carl fuses together tradition, rock and American heartland soul. With songs such as “Silver Lining,” “Broken-Hearted Man” and “Distant Darkness,” his music speaks to a profound understanding of ethos, with a brashness to push the envelope.
6. Country Songs // Karen Jonas
Karen’s sophomore album is even cooler than her last. There is something utterly haunting about her vocals, especially on songs like “The Garden” and “Wasting Time.” Elsewhere, she hits harder with significant honky-tonk influence — the title cut and “Ophelia” are sharp-shooting good times. Born and raised in Virginia, she makes sure to have plenty of fiddle, banjo and steel guitar permeating every inch of her records.
7. Vinyl // William Michael Morgan
Much like the album title, William’s debut harkens to a simpler, more authentic time in country music. He’s a little bit Randy Travis and a dash of Alan Jackson. Songs like “Missing,” “I Met a Girl,” “Lonesomeville” and “Back Seat Driver” are timeless.
8. Fighter // David Nail
Possessing one of today’s best male voices, David always flies just under the radar. With his latest record, he proves his staying power as a force to be reckoned with. Fighter is contemporary, soulful and undeniable. Standouts include “Good at Tonight,” the Lori McKenna-assisted “Home” and “Babies.”
9. I’m Not the Devil // Cody Jinks
This scruffy troubadour takes no prisoners on his new disc. Painted with Texas red dirt and thoughtful lyricism, the LP rearranges themes of heartache, lonesomeness and spiritual healing into rowdy numbers worthy of Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard. “No Guarantees,” “The Same,” “Give All You Can” and “Church at Gaylor Creek” are remarkable.
10. Southern Family // Various Artists
If you’ve ever wanted Miranda Lambert, Jason Isbell and Holly Williams on the same record, here we go! Produced by Dave Cobb, the robust collection pays tribute to Southern living, from the pain of dysfunctional families to blue-collar workers. “Sweet by and by” (Miranda Lambert), “You Are My Sunshine” (Chris and Morgane Stapleton), “Mama’s Table” (Jamey Johnson) and “I Cried” (Brandy Clark) are among this year’s most moving recordings.