It’s that time of year again. Time to look back on the year gone by, remember what’s worth rememberin’, and invite the future in to set a spell. Happy holidays and G-d Bless.
1) JAMEY JOHNSON – Macon
I reckon this is the best song to come out in ANY genre this year. Maybe last year, too. The first time I heard it, I replayed it 6 times. I can’t remember the last time I played a song even twice in a row. I’m sure somebody said it before me, but “he’s the new WAYLON, y’all!” The album’s pretty great, too, but not as solid as his previous effort, “That Lonesome Song.”
2) DIERKS BENTLEY (featuring MIRANDA LAMBERT and JAMEY JOHNSON) – Bad Angel
It took cojónes for Dierks to put out a bluegrass-flavored album in today’s pop country climate, so my hat’s off to him for even trying. This one’s up for a Grammy, but more importantly, it compels me to crank it up and sing along boisterously every time. If these 3 talented individuals ever make a whole album together, I will surely hafta buy it.
3) JOHNNY CASH – Ain’t No Grave
The album may lean a mite gloomy for most folks’ taste, as if he knew he would die soon. Listening to this song is like watching the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse ride down on you from above very… very… slowly, parting ash-black clouds like they were the Red Sea. If my grandpa were alive to hear it, he’d approve.
4) BLAKE SHELTON (featuring TRACE ADKINS) – Hillbilly Bone
Just plain fun. Them boys sound like they’re having quite a party, and I want an invite! The video’s a hoot, too. Plus, they’re the only 2 fellers I know of in country music who’re taller’n me, so I gotta support my towering bretheren.
5) LITTLE BIG TOWN – Little White Church
How can you not stomp your hands and clap your feet to this one? Wait. Somethin’ wrong there.
6) EASTON CORBIN – A Little More Country than That
Imagine that, an actual country song also being a big hit on the country charts!
7) DIERKS BENTLEY – Up On the Ridge
The album’s so good I hadda put 2 songs from it on my list. Reminds me of growin’ up in the boondocks.
8) JOSH TURNER – Why Don’t We Just Dance
This one just seems so honest and observant and real to me. Great storytelling on Josh’s part. I can picture this happening quite vividly, and really enjoying my imaginary self all the while.
9) GEORGE STRAIT – The Breath You Take
Another amazing song from the King of Country. I’ll be honest though, it didn’t really hit me ‘til I saw him perform it on the CMA Awards.
10) TAYLOR SWIFT – Back to December
What can I say? This one brought a tear to my eye when she did it on the CMA Awards, and I am not easily moved. She knows how to write about feelings, which is prolly where most of her overwhelming success comes from, ‘cuz most just can’t do it as good. I’m still not sure I’d call her music “country,” but it’s closer than some.
DIERKS BENTLEY – Up On the Ridge
This album sounds more like down-home, front-porch music than any country record in a long dang time. Maybe it is a little more Telluride-y “Newgrass” than traditional bluegrass, but he got Del McCoury (one o’Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys) to sing on a U2 song and made it sound like it was always a bluegrass song, and that is quite a feat.
BEST ALBUM BY SOMEONE YOU PROBABLY AIN’T HEARD OF BUT SHOULD:
RAY WYLIE HUBBARD – A. Enlightenment B. Endarkenment
Cryptic and a little difficult at times, but he’s keepin’ the down n’dirty outlaw spirit alive, for sure. It’s about time he got some recognition, so I’ma give him some! Do yourself a favor and see him live if you get the chance. He ain’t pretty and he ain’t got a fancy light show, just songwriting that’ll grab you by the throat and take you for a ride you won’t forget.
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Originally posted on Monday December 13th, 2010