My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Some hidden treasures of 2010

I restricted my top 10 singles list for the year to tracks which were formally released as singles, but a lot of the best music of the year was hidden away on albums. So to finish up our review of the year in country music, here are my favorite tracks from albums released this year. I’ve restricted the selection to one per artist (not counting duets), and I’ve excluded the albums which made it to my top 10 albums list to avoid too much duplication and to prevent the list being too long.

20. Trace Adkins – ‘Still Love You’ (Cowboy’s Back In Town)
Moving to Toby Keith’s label seems to have encouraged the talented but often artistically misguided Trace Adkins to give in to his worst instincts, but there is still some decent material on his latest album. This ballad swearing enduring love (written by love song specialist Jeff Bates with Robert Arthur and Kirk Roth) is a little heavily orchestrated, but has a great, understated vocal from one of the best voices around. It’s a shame the rest of the album wasn’t up to the same standard.

19. Gretchen Wilson – ‘I’m Only Human’ (I Got Your Country Right Here)
Gretchen has just scored an unexpected Grammy nomination for ‘I’d Love To Be Your Last’ from her self-released I Got Your Country Right Here, prompting general bewilderment from country fans online. But while that track isn’t bad, this song is rather better, a plaintive bar-room tale of a woman trying to resist the temptation of dalliance with a married man, which Gretchen wrote with Vicky McGehee, Dave Berg and Rivers Rutherford.

18. Jon Wolfe – ‘Play Me Something I Can Drink To’ (It All Happened In A Honky Tonk)
If you think Easton Corbin sounds like George Strait, you need to check out the Strait stylings of Jon Wolfe on his strong independent debut album. I particularly liked this classic country style bar room song (written by Kevin Brandt and Bobby Terry) about a guy seeking to get his broken heart temporarily cured by whiskey and a jukebox stocked with Hank and Jones.

17. Jamie Richards – ‘Half Drunk’ (Sideways)
A great song from a Texas-based artist about trying to get over an ex by drinking, but running out of money halfway through.

16. Miss Leslie – ‘Turn Around’ (Wrong Is What I Do Best)
A lovely steel-led heartbreak ballad written by honky tonker Miss Leslie herself, but sounding as though it could be a forgotten classic from the 60s.

15. Shawn Camp – ‘Clear As A Bell’ (1994)
This lovely song was my favorite from Shawn’s “lost” album which was resurrected from the Warner Bros vaults this year.

14. Zac Brown Band – ‘Martin’ (You Get What You Give)
Jamey Johnson personified a guitar in the title track of The Guitar Song, but Zac Brown sang a love song about one on their latest release. Charming and unusual.

13. Gary Allan – ‘No Regrets’ (Get Off On The Pain)
I’ve been disappointed by Gary’s musical direction over the past couple of albums, but the heartbreaking honesty of this touching song expressing his feelings about his late wife (which he wrote with the help of Jon Randall and Jaime Hanna) was a reminder of his excellent early work.

12. Jolie Holliday – ‘I’ll Try Anything’ (Lucky Enough)
A gorgeous cover of a sad song previously recorded by its co-writer Amber Dotson about struggling to cope with lost love. I can’t find a link for you to listen to the studio version, but here she is singing it live (after a nice version of ‘San Antonio Rose’. And as a bonus, here she is singing ‘Golden Ring’ live with Randy Travis.

11. Curly Putman – ‘Green Green Grass Of Home’ (Write ‘Em Sad – Sing ‘Em Lonesome)
The songwriter’s own version of his classic prisoner’s dream is as convincing as any version I’ve herd of this celebrated song.

10. Toby Keith – ‘Sundown‘ (Bullets In The Gun, deluxe version)
Toby is always a bit hit and miss for me, but this surprisingly restrained live version of the sultry folk-country classic is a definite hit.

9. Darin & Brooke Aldridge – ‘The Last Thing On His Mind’ (Darin & Brooke Aldridge)
I loved this husband and wife team’s sweet bluegrass album and this somber Easter song (written by Dennis K Duff) was the highlight for me.

8. Teea Goans – ‘I Don’t Do Bridges Anymore’ (The Way I Remember It)
Teea Goans’ retro independent release featured this lovely classic-styled ballad, written by Jim McBride, Don Poythress and Jerry Salley. Her voice is sweet but not that distinctive, but this breakup song is definitely worth hearing.

7. Catherine Britt – ‘Sweet Emmylou’ (Catherine Britt)
The Australian singer’s latest album was a bit hit and miss for me, but there were some very strong moments, including Catherine’s lovely version of her tribute to the healing power of the music of Emmylou Harris, which she wrote some years ago with Rory Feek. It has been released as a single in Australia.

6. Bill Anderson – ‘The Songwriters’ (Songwriter)
My favorite comic song of the year is the legendary Bill Anderson’s celebration (more or less) of songwriters’ lives, complete with the protagonist’s mother’s preference for a career as drug dealer for her son. Bill isn’t much of a singer, but this song (co-written with Gordie Sampson)is irresistible.

5. Randy Kohrs – ‘Die On The Vine’ (Quicksand)
One of the first songs to grab my attention this year was this lovely song warning a son against taking refuges from trouble in alcohol, written by famed dobro player and songwriter Randy Kohrs with Dennis Goodwin.

4. James Dupre – ‘Ring On The Bar’ (It’s All Happening)
I loved this sensitively sung low-key mid-tempo Byron Hill/Brent Baxter song about a man trying to figure out what happened to his marriage from youtube discovery James’s independent debut album, produced by Kyle Lehning.

3. Lee Ann Womack – ‘Liars Lie’ (Country Strong soundtrack)
I’m beginning to get impatient for a new album from Lee Ann, and this soundtrack cut has really whetted my appetite. This excellent song, written by Sally Barris, Morgane Hayes and Liz Rose, and the combination of Lee Ann’s beautiful vocals and the harmony from Charlie Pate, a pure country production (thanks to Lee Ann’s husband Frank Liddell and Chuck Ainlay), and a fine song make this a sheer delight.

2. Chris Young – ‘Chiseled In Stone’ (Voices EP)
Song for song, this young neotraditionalist’s three song EP of covers was the most impressive release of the year, allowing Chris to exercise his outstanding baritone voice on really top quality material – something sadly missing on his two full length albums. This Vern Gosdin song was my favorite of the three, but his takes on Keith Whitley’s ‘I’m Over You’ and John Anderson’s ‘Swingin’ were also great.

1. Alan Jackson ft Lee Ann Womack – ‘Til The End’ (Freight Train)
This particular treasure is not very well hidden, as although it hasn’t been released as a single it gained sufficient attention to get a well-deserved nomination as Musical Event of the Year at the recent CMA awards. This exquisite reading of another Vern Gosdin classic was by far the best thing on Alan’s latest (and possibly last) album for Arista.

Do you have any special favorite album tracks from this year which haven’t gained the attention they deserve?

16 responses to “Some hidden treasures of 2010

  1. Adam A. December 31, 2010 at 9:55 am

    Great list. Likewise, I too feel that it’s WAY overdue for a L.A.W album. I do enjoy “Ring on the Bar” by James Dupre , although I have to say my favorite cut from his set is the Jackson Browne cover of “For a Dancer.”

    Some of my favorite album cuts this year:
    – “Hollywood” – Aaron Watson
    – “Lonesome Town” & “Lovesick” – Ridley Bent
    – “Thousand Secrets” – Sahara Smith
    – “Kids” – Gord Bamford (sweet song, totally underrated singer)

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  3. Razor X December 31, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    “Pictures on Mantels” from the deluxe version of Cowboy’s Back In Town was also very good.

  4. Brady December 31, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    Nice list!

    Some of the more obscure ones that I’ve been enjoying are “Respect for the Dead” by The Cornell Hurd Band, “Big Lonesome” by Marshall Chapman, and “How Did I Get So Sloppy Drunk (When I Was Drinkin’ Neat)” by The Texas Sapphires.

  5. Zack January 1, 2011 at 1:22 am

    I’d add Reba’s “The Day She Got Divorced,” from her 2010 album, it’s the best from the album, and one of the best she’s done.

    • Caroline January 1, 2011 at 10:12 am

      I agree. I think most of the songs on Reba’s album All The Women I Am are terrific. The Day She Got Divorced is certainly a hidden treasure since I think it’s one of the less likely choices for a single.

    • J.R. Journey January 3, 2011 at 10:29 pm

      I’m with you guys regarding the Reba track. It barely missed inclusion on my own top 10 tracks list, and if I revised it, I’d slide it in in place of something else. ‘Divorced’ is her best recording in several albums.

  6. Rick January 3, 2011 at 10:13 pm

    Its nice to see an Amber Dotson song get mentioned anywhere these days! Bless you Jolie Holliday for giving it another go round.

    If Kyle Lehning produced James Dupre’s album, I’ll have to check it out for that reason alone.

    The Alan Jackson / Lee Ann Womack duet was indeed one of the best songs on the weak overall “Freight Train” album, but I can’t say it really made much of an impact on me. Oh well…

  7. Pingback: 10 Best “Not Quite Country” Albums of 2010 | American Twang

  8. Alexandra Zeller January 4, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    I enjoyed this very much. Being one that listens to the radio and downloads my music, I am always looking for new songs that may stand out and these will for sure be the next songs on my ipod.

  9. Peter January 10, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    I’m not sold on Toby’s version of the Gordie Lightfoot classic. For me, Deryl Dodd did a superior version years ago

  10. Ray colligan January 14, 2011 at 5:32 am

    This is just a thought maybe just an acoustic guitar and a great singer that can really sing without all the fuss,sometimes just oneor two on an album/cd might just make the cd a little differant with all the others cut in a studio with the best musical talents you can find creats a good mix .and just might sell even more for the people who might want something tone down a little .This is just a thought. RAY

  11. Pingback: 10 Best “Not Quite Country” Albums of 2010 | American Noise

  12. Pingback: The 50 Best Country Songs of 2010 | American Noise

  13. Jon G. January 30, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    I don’t have much to say about this except that I really respond to Anderson’s trademark ‘whisperin’ vocal and I thought ‘Get Off on the Pain’ and ‘Living Hard’ Allan’s most accomplished records besides ‘Smoke Rings in the Dark.’

    Otherwise, the actual songs choices are impeccable.

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