Best of 2016 – Country(ish)

cowboyhat

In country music, it’s all about the songwriting and THE VOICE. And in 2016, the ladies ruled the Country roost. Margo Price is the newbie in the list, having released her excellent debut album Midwest Farmer’s Daughter in 2016. She’s got THE VOICE, the perfect blend of grit, twang and feeling. It’s one of those things that’s hard to quantify but you know it when you hear it. It’s a sound that Elizabeth Cook has in spades. To quote the inestimable Randy Jackson: I can listen to her sing the phonebook. Hopefully her next album is a little less over produced. Miranda Lambert has never really been my cup of tea. Until now. She’s sounded more like New Country to me, a bit too slick and unrelatable. But maybe her divorce from Blake Shelton awoke her old-country spirit, as she sounds rejuvenated here. Shovels & Rope are the perfect blend of The White Stripes and June and Johnny Cash. The married duo’s voices blend into a singular whole, the stripped down drums and fuzzed guitar instrumentation, especially on songs like “Botched Execution,” perfectly bring these songs to organic life. The entire 2016 album Little Seeds is strong. Teddy Thompson & Kelly Jones I wrote about here, so I won’t repeat myself, but their new classics on their debut album are all great, but “Better at Lying” was the “country-est” of the lot, so I picked this one.

I had to leave out a couple of Hall-of-Famers to keep it to top 5, but I wanted to mention that both Loretta Lynn and John Doe both released excellent albums in 2016. (Update: had to add Loretta in at #6)

 

Margo Price – About to Find Out

Elizabeth Cook – Exodus of Venus

Miranda Lambert – Highway Vagabond

Shovels & Rope – Johnny Come Outside

Teddy Thompson & Kelly Jones – Better at Lying

honorable mention: (I couldn’t leave LL out)

Loretta Lynn – Whispering Sea

 

 

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