My Kind of Country

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

Razor X’s Top Albums of 2012

Finding good new country music is not as easy as it once was, and due to a number of other things that were going on in my life, I’m afraid I didn’t put much effort into seeking out new music this year but I was able to find a few gems:

10. Heroes — Willie Nelson

Willie’s return to the major labels was an eclectic collection that found him covering Coldplay and Pearl Jam, but also reunited him with Merle Haggard and Ray Price, as well as sharing the spotlight a bit with his sons Lukas and Micah.

dierks9. Home — Dierks Bentley

2010’s Up On The Ridge was successful critically but not commercially, so it’s not surprising that Dierks chose to follow it up with a much more radio-friendly collection. The strategy worked, as Home produced three # 1 singles.

8. Nashville, Volume 1: Tear The Woodpile Down — Marty Stuart

Not quite the masterpiece that 2010’s Ghost Train was, this collection was still one of my favorite listens of the year. I would have rated it higher if it hadn’t contained some recycled material (“Sundown In Nashville”, “Truck Driver’s Blues”).

kelliepickler7. 100 Proof — Kellie Pickler

I never thought that Kellie Picker’s name would ever appear on any of my best of lists, but she really blossomed with this collection of more traditional-sounding tunes. Unfortunately, just as she was finally making music that allowed her to be taken seriously as an artist, she was dropped by her record label. What the future holds for her remains to be seen. There was a time when I would have said that she wouldn’t be missed very much, but now I’m curious to see what direction she goes in next.

6. Calling Me Home — Kathy Mattea

I wasn’t a huge fan of 2008’s Coal, but I like Kathy’s second visit to her Appalachian roots much better. This is a less bleak look at her heritage.

zbb5. Uncaged — Zac Brown Band

Creepy cover art aside, this collection allowed the Zac Brown Band to further expand on their increasing eclectic but always interesting catalog.

4. Thirty Miles West — Alan Jackson

There weren’t any real surprises or stretches in Alan’s EMI Nashville debut; it’s very much in the same vein as most of the other albums he’s released over the past twenty-odd years — which is exactly what country music needs right now.

terriclark3. Classic — Terri Clark

Terri Clark and I were born just a few weeks apart, so we grew up listening to much of the same music. This collection, in which she covers tunes by Linda Ronstadt, Loretta Lynn, Merle Haggard, Reba McEntire and Tanya Tucker, provided a wonderful trip down memory lane and is the best album of her career.

2. Restless — Sweethearts of the Rodeo

This long overdue new release was well worth the wait. It’s a shame that it won’t be as widely heard as it deserves.

jameyjohnson1. Living For A Song – A Tribute to Hank Cochran — Jamey Johnson

By the time I was three tracks into listening to this album for the first time, I knew it was my favorite of the year. It’s a beautifully crafted masterpiece with an impressive guest roster that pays homage to one of the greatest country songwriters of all time. I can’t say enough good things about this album.

5 responses to “Razor X’s Top Albums of 2012

  1. Ben Foster December 26, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    Very fine list, Razor. No less than five of your choices appear on my list as well.

    I have got to remember to give that new Sweethearts of the Rodeo album a listen. Thanks for the nudge.

  2. J.R. Journey December 26, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    Solid list of course. I’d rank Thirty Miles West as one of the best albums in Alan Jackson’s catalog. Even with no frills or surprises, it’s so consistent and full of top-notch songs and performances. I can’t stop playing it.

    I haven;t heard the Willie Nelson album. Willie has gotten a bit too prolific for me lately. I don’t know where he finds the time to record all this new music. Seems like as soon as I get time to listen to his latest project, the man has another new one. I’ll be checking it out soon.

    And I had totally missed the Sweethearts of the Rodeo album. I always liked them so I’ll have to give that a listen too.

  3. Occasional Hope December 27, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    A nice list; I like all of these.

  4. Jordan Stacey December 28, 2012 at 9:43 am

    Thanks for reminding me about the Sweethearts of The Rodeo cd I forgot they put one out this year, I just ordered it. Good list too I’m in love with Terri’s new one and I’m glad she made somebody’s list.

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