Over the last decade or so, there’s been a major push, especially in country music, to be genreless. This is because artists continually push the boundaries of what is or isn’t a certain genre of music, on top of the fact that people all over the globe are desperately trying not to be put into any categories or boxes. Everything, in theory, is supposed to be fluid. For some, if categories or labels didn’t exist and we left the identities of certain things up to it is what it is definition it would become harder and harder to create. For me, a category or a label brings the end goal back into focus.
That being said, with Justin Timberlake’s recent announcement of a country-ish album, Beyonce’s attempt to get “Daddy Lessons” into the GRAMMYs as a country song and more and more crossover collaborations in country music, it’s time to take a look back at a few albums from the 2000s that would be hit country albums today.
5. Michelle Branch // The Spirit Room
Michelle Branch, at her core is a songwriter, which immediately separated her from other pop acts like Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Mandy Moore in the early 2000s. The Spirit Room was massively successful thanks to the fact that Branch kind of sounds like Jewel and Sheryl Crow got together and made a record. If this was re-released today and Branch nixed the canned drums and a few other bland electronic blahs this album would be huge. Again.
4. Gavin DeGraw // Chariot
DeGraw’s debut went Platinum and abrasively old-school without sounding like anything that came before it. The way DeGraw borrowed from other genres to create his own sound is a lot like what is happening in Nashville today with the likes of Chris Stapleton, Kacey Musgraves, and Miranda Lambert.
3. John Mayer // Room For Squares
Mayer is such a talented musician he could create in any genre and succeed. Room For Squares is poppy, but very acoustic, which is something that is a bit lacking in country music today. Do country singers even play acoustic guitars anymore? Mayer’s last two albums, The Search For Everything and Paradise Valley, were also talked about a lot in country music conversations.
2. The Fray // How To Save A Life
The Fray’s debut album, How To Save A Life, is ultra-confessional and somewhat faith-based. Country radio would eat that up today.
1. Matt Wertz // Twenty Three Places
Wertz was the first guy I ever heard of that lived in Nashville as a singer-songwriter that wasn’t a country music singer. There’s more mandolin and banjo on Twenty Three Places than ever released on any Jason Aldean, Florida Georgia Line or Cole Swindell album.