Putting together a list of the best Country/Americana albums of 2018 has been incredibly hard. With so many releases it has been one of those times where this list has changed about a dozen times until the final list was put together. Many albums that should probably be on the list may not appear and this could simply be down to the fact that I haven’t sat down and properly listened to it yet or that they just didn’t make it for another reason. Also, I know I have missed some off that have simply slipped my mind, so I may have to sneak in some honorary ones later.
My list is mostly down to what albums I have personally played a lot this year and what albums I have a connection with or find myself singing along to the most as well as albums which from start to finish are just simply genius. My taste in music varies so much from guilty pleasures to loving the best of the best. Some may surprise, some won’t but either way if we all had the same list it would be boring and music would never get heard.
20. Eric Church – Desperate Man
I am still getting to know this album but the single Desperate Man has been one of my favourite tracks this year. It isn’t hard to see why Church is one of the top dogs in the country music world as his music really crosses over to a much more diverse genre range and he is simply just The Chief in every meaning. This album is so different from other country albums and in the best way.
19. Ashley McBryde – Girl Going Nowhere
This ranking will surprise people. I love Ashley and this album but it hasn’t been one that I have played a lot. This is a favourite for many though so check this album out as she is goin’ places.
18. Jimmie Allen – Mercury Lane
Jimmie has had a wonderful year in 2018 and has such a wonderful story of struggle, hard work, dedication and more. Mercury Lane is his story and is really some great work. It isn’t for everyone and can be seen as just another male artist singing about the usual stuff but it isn’t so. There is a lot more depth to Jimmie than most male country artists and songs such as County Lines, Best Shot and Warrior will have you captivated.
17. Lucie Silvas – E.G.O
Lucie’s previous album Letters to Ghosts was such a favourite for me when it was released that I don’t think she could have beaten it for me. E.G.O is great though, not necessarily country but she isn’t trying to be. Lucie is a genre within herself and quite simply one of the best vocalists in the world.
16. The Shires – Accidentally On Purpose
Well anyone who knows us knows we love The Shires and they are alwyas hard to rank. Much like Ashley McBryde, I found them hard to rank, again simply for not listening to the album as much as the others. I adore these guys though, they have a special meaning for me and a huge place in my heart and stereo. This, like all their albums is great and they pave the way for UK country artists. The Shires deliver the best country-pop and have delved into a bit more of the US stylings sonically on this one which was a smart move and works really well.
15. The Wandering Hearts – Wild Silence
An somewhat poetic story to the UK country/americana scene. The Wandering Hearts have simply taken over the UK country verse and it isn’t hard to see why. The UK’s Little Big Town, TWH have four flawless voices that produce breathtaking harmonies and their songs are just on point.
14. Anderson East – Encore
An unbelievably good soulful voice, Anderson East is an artist everyone needs to know. Encore is a masterpiece, full of soul and energy and truth.
13. The Wood Brothers – One Drop of Truth
One of my happiest finds of 2018. Not a new band but new to me, The Wood Brothers are one of the best americana/country acts going with amazing musicianship. This album is addictive.
12. Will Hoge – My American Dream
The politically charged album is a fantastic masterpiece with brilliant tracks lyrically and sonically. Hoge is an underdog, one of the best in the business and writes the truth with a rock, punk edge to country.
11. Megan McKenna – Story of Me
This will surprise a lot of people. I actually really struggled where to rank this because it was the last one to be released and I had already fallen for so many other albums. In the end, I had to put in the middle as have played it non-stop since its release. Past roles should be ignored, other people’s opinions don’t matter and going out of your way to at least try it is a must. Megan has worked with artists such as Lauren Alaina, Catherine McGrath and writers such as Beth Nielson Chapman and Amy Wadge on this and it really is a great collection of tunes. If You is a track to seek out as is Odds.
10. Scotty McCreery – Seasons Change
Scotty has finally arrived and garnered much deserved attention with Seasons Change. His most personal record yet, Scotty is started to make waves within the country community and now everyone wants a piece and have fallen in love with not just his music but his story too. So close to getting an official CMA Nomination, let’s hope Scotty keeps climbing high.
9. Ashley Campbell – The Lonely One
This was an early contender for me and I loved the entire album from the get-go. Ashley has such swee, inviting vocals and her songwriting is relatable and her music wonderfully catchy. Good For You was a fast favourite. This album should be noticed as really is a good un.
8. Dierks Bentley – The Mountain
Dierks hit the jack pot with Riser and I don’t think that album can ever be beaten and still don’t. The Mountain is very close to being just as good though, especially with tracks such as Women, Amen and Burning Man. This record needs to be ranked higher but I know I listen to the others more.
7. Lainey Wilson – Lainey Wilson EP
Keepin’ it trad, Lainey is one if the best things to happen to country music in 2018 and although this is an EP, it couldn’t not be here. Lainey is going to take the Country world by storm and I cannot wait for an album. Dreamcatcher is so beautiful.
6. Clare Bowen – Clare Bowen
One of my least favourite characters on Nashville series (Scarlett) yet her debut solo record is one of my favourites and is simply stunning and a real mix of genres delivering a sensational collection of gorgeous and tuneful songs that really melt in your mouth.
5. Jordan Davis – Home State
I adored this album from the start. A nice change from the usual bull in some male country artists but still pop enough to have commercial success. A catchy and fun album, Jordan is a delight to this list.
4. Pistol Annies – Interstate Gospel
A great year for Miranda, Angaleena and Ashley to return as their unstoppable, kick ass trio, showing women in country are bad ass. This album is better than expected and straight from the heart and soul of these strong women’s lives and experiences good and bad. Strong traditional country sounds, this album shouldn’t be glossed over.
3. Ruston Kelly – Dying Star
Ruston Kelly is somewhat of a hidden gem. An astonishing singer/songwriter with no bulls***t, this album is everything.
2. Brothers Osborne – Port Saint Joe
You can’t go wrong with a little Brothers Osborne, these boys are a little bit trouble and in the best kind of way. Port Saint Joe showcases all their skills both musically and Lyrically and it is such a dang good, loud album.
1. Kacey Musgraves – Golden Hour
This one was a no brainer. Kacey has absolutely killed it this year with Golden Hour. Just when I thought I was getting bored of Kacey, she not only releases best album of the year but quite possibly an album that will be one of my favourites of all time. From the starting track Slow Burn to the close Rainbow, this album is phenomenal and should be heard by fans of all genres.