My Kind of Country

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

2011: The 75-(per)cent report

School buses are back on the roads and the leaves are already starting to fall on the roads here in southern Ohio. Crisp nights are upon us, and as we head into final months of 2011, I’m revisiting my growing playlist of my favorite songs and albums released in the first three-quarters. No waxing or pondering on the fate of what’s popular this time, these are just some of my favorite releases of the year, in no particular order, combined with a few words to tell you why in some cases.  Be sure to share your top picks for the 3/4 of the year so far in the comments.

Albums

Sunny Sweeney – Concrete … As I said in my review, if this became the sounding board for all future female country albums, we’d all be better off.

Terri Clark – Roots and Wings … Though it’s not as strong as her previous effort, Clark’s latest, and its lack of airplay, is another page in the long indictment against country radio.  I’d be the first to welcome her back with this material.

Pistol Annies – Hell On Heels

George Strait – Here For A Good Time

Connie Smith – Long Line of Heartaches … Traditional country and classic themes performed by one of country music’s finest singers. A can’t-miss combination.

Chris Young – Neon

Ronnie Dunn – Ronnie Dunn … The Brooks & Dunn frontman hasn’t reached his full potential as a soloist yet – I think he’s still too unsure of himself – but this is a helluva start.

Blake Shelton – Red River Blue

… and on the not-so country side:

Lucinda Williams – Blessed

Adele – 21

Lori McKenna – Lorraine

The Decemberists – The King Is Dead 

Songs

Bradley Gaskin – “Mr. Bartender”

Kenny Chesney & Grace Potter – “You and Tequila”

Pistol Annies – “Lemon Drop”/”Trailer For Rent” … I can’t pick a favorite among these two on the album.

Ronnie Dunn – “Cost of Living”

George Strait – “Here For a Good Time”/”Poison” … It’s been said before, and better, but I really like the title track to Strait’s latest album. And I think “Poison” is one of his finest moments.

Sunny Sweeney – “Staying’s Worse than Leaving”/”Amy”

Billy Currington – “Love Done Gone”

Taylor Swift – “Back to December”/”Mean”

Lucinda Williams – “I Don’t Know How You’re Living”

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3 responses to “2011: The 75-(per)cent report

  1. Jonathan Pappalardo September 9, 2011 at 8:47 am

    Have to agree with all your selections. I’m glad to see a shout-out for Lori McKenna, her latest is also one of my favorite projects from this past year. I’ll have to check out Lucinda William’s song, it’s the only one on this list I haven’t heard. Also, the Adele album is beyond words. While the attention is going to the jaw-droppingly fabulous “Someone Like You,” I’m also really digging “Rumor Has It” and “Don’t You Remember.”

    There’s only one sad thing about this list – lack of mainstream/commercial albums. It’s too bad the superstars in this genre (Brad Paisley/Sara Evans)can’t match the quality of this music. If that were to happen, than country radio might get interesting again. But that isn’t likely to happen.

  2. bob September 9, 2011 at 11:38 am

    Of those you’ve mentioned, I recently bought Concrete (and Sunny’s Heartbreakers album), Ronnie Dunn’s and Terri Clark’s Roots & Wings. I haven’t yet decided whether to buy Neon or Hell on Heels, or just a few tracks from each.

    Albums not on your list: American Folk Songbook from Suzy Bogguss, Your Money & My Good Looks from Gene Watson & Rhonda Vincent and Matraca Berg’s Dreaming Fields.

    On your singles list, I like Cost of Livin’ (Song of the year so far IMHO) and Sunny’s Stayin’. A single I really like not on the list is David Bradley’s Hard Time Movin’ On which I believe you reviewed very favorably early this year.

  3. SamB September 11, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    I agree with most of what you’ve got on there, and would add all the albums that Bob mentions too. The only one I’d remove is Terri Clark’s, which I thought was very bland, and particularly let down by the production,

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