Here are my favorite albums from 2012, in no order. Click the links to listen on Spotify.
Nashville Cast - The Music of Nashville: Season 1, Volume 1
The Tennesseean‘s Peter Cooper made a valid case about the music coming from the hit ABC drama being better than most mainstream country hits. I agree with him. While the TV show’s original songs haven’t yet shown much aptitude with traditional country sounds – leaning more toward Americana and pop-country – they’re leaps and bounds ahead of the current top 40 when it comes to content and substance.
Recommended tracks: “Wrong Song”, “If I Didn’t Know Better”, “No One Will Ever Love You”
Kellie Pickler – 100 Proof
A handful of barn-burning up-tempos, a few clever female-friendly medium tempos, and even more stone country tear-jerkers, served up with heaps of fiddle, pedal steel, and Kellie Pickler’s Carolina twang? Yes, please.
Recommended tracks: “Long As I Never See You Again”, “Where’s Tammy Wynette”, “The Letter (To Daddy)”
Jamey Johnson – Living For a Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran
Johnson’s tribute to Music Row pioneer and songwriting legend Hank Cochran features an all-star cast taking on some of Cochran’s big hits and a few well-chosen and lesser known gems.
Recommended tracks: “Make The World Go Away” (with Alison Krauss), “A-11″ (with Ronnie Dunn), “A Way To Survive” (with Leon Russell and Vince Gill)
Zac Brown Band – Uncaged
On their third album, the Zac Brown Band again combines country with bluegrass and the sounds of the islands and the songs this time out are again smart and to the point.
Recommended tracks: “Sweet Annie”, “Goodbye In Her Eyes”, “The Wind”
Alan Jackson – Thirty Miles West
Jackson’s first album for the EMI Nashville label follows his winning no frills neotraditional formula. Thirty Miles West is a set full of top-notch songs and performances. I can’t stop playing it.
Recommended tracks: “So You Don’t Have To Love Me Anymore”, “Look Her In The Eye and Lie”, “She Don’t Get High”
Dwight Yoakam - 3 Pears
Yoakam’s first album of all new material in seven years is as eclectic as the man himself. On 3 Pears, he shares production duties with punk-rock hero Beck and songwriting credit with Robert Richie (aka Kid Rock) and Ashley Monroe on respective tracks on a set that ably combines the sound of rock and roll’s golden AM era with his own distinctive country stamp.
Recommended tracks: “It’s Never Alright”, “Heart Like Mine”, “Long Way To Go”