2020 best country albums so far

Summer is here and it’s time to think about country and red dirt albums that were released this year so far. I propose you a list of 10 albums particularly impressive and brilliant in country music or red dirt genre. It’s not a classification and there’s no particular order between them. I chose 10 albums but of course it’s not exhaustive, and you’ll also find a list of 20 other albums that I highly recommend you to listen if you haven’t done it yet. The six first months of 2020 have been weird and will remain in our memories as a very strange period but we were lucky to be able to listen to a lot of quality albums during our quarantine days. Live streams have also been a way for a lot of us to watch our favorite artists live. For European people, particularly in my country, France, it was the first time that we were able to watch some of them perform. A last thing before revealing you my list: listen a lot to your favorite artists on your streaming service, and buy their merch if you can, because they have suffered a lot during the pandemy, due to the cancelation of their gigs. They need you more than ever!

Kyle Nix – “Lightning on the Mountain & Other Short Stories

Turnpike Troubadour’s fiddler, Kyle Nix, released his debut album, Lightning on the Mountain & Other Short Stories, on June 26th, and it’s a wonderful one. It’s undoubtedly one of the best country albums you will listen to this year. “Woman of Steel“, “If Ruby Ain’t Happy“, the title track, “Lightning on the Mountain“, “Sweet Delta Rose“, “Shelby 65“… all its songs are amazing! Check it out and listen to it all summer long!

Lauren Mascittti – “God Made a Woman

God Mad A Woman“, released on January 8th, is a gem for all those who love real country music. This album is absolutely excellent, with a lot of old-school country songs, including the title track and the beautiful “Losing My Mind” and “Lovin’ All Night“. Lauren Mascitti has a beautiful voice and this album is an evidence of her impressive talent.

TJ Hernandez – “Destination Unknown

I heard about this great album thanks to the famous blog “Saving Country Music“, an essential website for real country music lovers. I use to read Trigger’s writings and his website is unique to know about quality music and independent artists. “Destination Unknown” is a fantastic record released in May by TJ Hernandez. Songwriting and music are absolutely amazing and TJ Hernandez’ voice is great. This album is really unmissable! A gem!

American Aquarium – “Lamentations

Lamentations” is a brilliant album, particularly outstanding for its authenticity, its honesty, its songwriting and its high musical quality. Produced by Shooter Jennings, it was released in May, 15 years after the debut album of American Aquarium. With “Lamentations“, BJ Barham put into words and sings what a lot of American people feel. You can find my review of this album there: https://countrymusicfrance.fr/2020/05/02/album-review-american-aquariums-lamentations/

Jesse Daniel – “Rollin’ On

I loved Jesse Daniel’s album since my first listening. “Rollin’ On” is undoubtedly one of the most important albums released this year so far in country music genre. Coproduced by Tommy Detamore, it’s the sophomore album of Californian artist, two years after his self-titled debut. Its songs are among the best that you will listen to this year. Brilliant!

Tessy Lou Williams – Self-titled

Tessy Lou Williams’ self-titled debut album, released on May 22d, is the quintessence of country music. All its songs are pure and beautiful country music, with great songwriting and perfectly sung by Montana native artist. This album is absolutely brilliant and you’ll probably have it on repeat all this year if you love quality music and real country.

Mike and the Moonpies – “Touch of You – The lost songs of Gary Stewart

After the beautiful “Cheap Silver and Solid Country Gold“, one of the best albums of 2019, Mike and The Moonpies released another fantastic LP this year. “Touch of you – the lost songs of Gary Stewart“, also produced by Adam Odor, includes ten songs of Gary Stewart never released before, beautifully covered by one of the best Texas bands. The result is a timeless gem. You love Honky Tonk ? Just listen to this amazing album on repeat!

Hill CountrySelf-Titled

Hill Country is a Texas based band leaded by Texan artist Zane Williams and fellow singer and songwriter Paul Eason, both with solo albums of their own. The self-titled debut album of the band is absolutely awesome, with great songwriting and a fantastic music, perfect for lovers of Texas country, bluegrass and southern rock. All its 12 songs are great, particularly the beautiful “Dixie Darlin“, “Evergreen“, “Palomino Gold” or “Adios“. This album is a gem, and even Luke Combs recently endorsed it!

Reckless Kelly – “American Jackpot – American Girls

The double album released by Reckless Kelly last May is absolutely awesome. If you love Red Dirt music and Texas country, it’s an essential LP, with 20 excellent songs, including the beautiful “Lonesone on my own“, “I only see you with my eyes closed” or the catchy “Thinkin’ ‘Bout you all night” or “Mona”. Undoubtedly one of the greatest albums of 2020 so far!

Rich O’Toole – “New York

New York” is the first album released by Ruch O’ Toole since “American Kid” in 2017… and it was worth the wait! The new album of Houston native artist is a great one, with excellent music and songwriting. Some of its songs were previously released, like the great “Mississippi Baby“, “Peter and Paul” (reviewed on this blog: https://countrymusicfrance.fr/2019/04/21/song-review-rich-otooles-peter-and-paul/) or this great cover of “Coke” (performed with Flickerstick’s singer Brandlin lea, who wrote the song) and among the new ones, you’ll love the fantastic “American Steel“, the beautiful “Frank Lloyd Wright“, or the catchy “New York City” and “Back on my bullshit“. An awesome album!

Other albums highly recommended

Johnny Falstaff – Lost in The City Lights

Robbyn Shayne – Let’s get this show on the road

John Baumann – Country Shade

Porter Union – Loved and lost

Eleven Hundred Springs – Here Ti’s

Wynn Williams – Self-titled

Corb Lund – Agricultural Tragic

Drew Fish Band – Wishful Drinkin’

The Panhandlers – Self-Titled

Gabe Lee – Honky Tonk Hell

John Anderson – Years

Bryan James – Politics and Religion

Jaime Wyatt – Neon Cross

Jason Isbell – Reunions

Tyller Gummersall – Heartbreak College

Randy Rogers & Wade Bowen – Hold my beer II

Ashley McBryde – Never Will

Ragland – More Like a Melody

Jeff Jacobs band – Out of the Keg

Hayden Haddock – Red Dirt Texas

Nicolas Davelu

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