Top 10 Country Albums Of 2007
Without any album releases on the horizon for the remainder of the year, it’s time for us to publish The 9513’s Top Albums of 2007. The year saw an indie label revive an aging star’s career before his sudden death, one of the best albums put out by one of the genre’s finest female vocalists, and some strong traditional offerings. Some albums were highly touted, but failed to live up to the hype and others were downright bombs. So, all in all, we had a year like any other, but despite the great music that was released this year, the staff was in agreement that the quantity of quality albums was rather lacking.
After slapping each other silly, arguing to the bitter end, and finally coming to terms, we’ve compiled a list of top albums covering the wide swath that is the staff’s diverse musical affections. Each staff member has also compiled a list of their personal top albums of the year with brief commentary for those interested.
Top Country Albums of 2007
Within the span of fifteen minutes Watson is able to transition from the subject of a father of a murdered child taking justice into his own hands to an ode to Johnny Knoxville and on to a song that deals with suicide, and he does so without ever coming off as disingenuous. Throw in the charm of strummed guitar strings minus the over-produced polish; a song from the perspective of a man facing Alabama’s infamous electric chair; some channeling of Watson’s inner Johnny Cash; and a train song and you’ve got the foundation for a solidly executed album from one of the genre’s most unwavering traditionalists. Dale Watson is a genius of the melancholy. — Brody Vercher
Recommended: “Justice For All,” “From the Cradle to the Grave,” “Yellow Mama”
Perhaps the best and most cohesive album from one of the genre’s greatest album artists, it’s also one of her most traditional. Tillis navigates a superb collection of songs that are celebratory (“Life Has Sure Changed Us Around,” “Band in the Window”), mournful (“Something Burning Out,” “Train Without a Whistle”) and reflective (“The Hard Way,” “Someone Somewhere Tonight”). — Matt C.
Recommended: “Something Burning Out,” “The Hard Way,” “Life Has Sure Changed Us Around”
Paisley was able to brilliantly tap in to the male psyche on 5th Gear, an album that captured all of the goofiness, ruggedness, and yes, sensitivity, that was being a “guy” in 2007. Oh, and the album featured a ton of kick-ass guitar work, too. — Jim Malec
Recommended: “Letter To Me,” “If Love Was A Plane,” “Throttleneck”
Melodically addicting and lyrically introspective. Take just one listen to Dollar Theater Movie and you can tell the silver-tongued Kennedy is an acute observer of human interaction. He’s able take a solid, relatable theme or idea and meticulously craft an entire song around it without tripping over tired cliches–and he’s able to sustain that innovative glow for thirteen songs. There’s no skipper material here, folks. If you’re one of those listeners who champions fresh, intelligent song writing, do yourself a favor and check this one out. — Brody Vercher
Recommended: “One to Blame,” “Goodbye,” “The Last Waltz”
This former marine went into the studio to record his second album without the backing of a major label this go round and came out with an album that is decidedly different from his debut effort. He has already proven his abilities as a songwriter and That Lonesome Song solidifies his credentials as an artist with a distinctive southern twang to boot. What Johnson delivers on this under the radar release is a reflective, sometimes somber album, that no doubt derives inspiration from his semi-recent marital “freedom.” It can be harsh and hilarious, but wholly authentic. Try finding an album like this on a major label. — Brady Vercher
Recommended: “In Color,” “High Cost Of Living,” “That Lonesome Song”
Doyle Lawson has made a career singing Gospel bluegrass. His latest release doesn’t deviate from that interpretation or traditional bluegrass instrumentation, but it does tackle songs written by some of pop-country’s finest tunesmiths. The result is a collection of greater lyrical depth than most bluegrass records. However, it’s the Gospel interpretation that makes some of these songs absolutely timeless, as evidenced by “The Selfishness in Man,” a song tackled by artists from George Jones to Ricky Skaggs but not perfected until now. — Matt C.
Recommended: “The Phone Call,” “The Selfishness in Man,” “More Behind the Picture than the Wall”
4. Easy Money, John Anderson
It’s not completely traditional and the MuzikMafia’s influence is apparent, which may or may not be a good thing depeding on who you ask, but with a voice like the one John Anderson possesses, it doesn’t really matter; his voice alone exemplifies country music. The uptempo songs don’t sound like they’ve been rehashed a million times over and aren’t loud for the sake of being “Loud,” while they easily outshine the current crop of southern rockers flooding the country genre. The slower ballads, however, are where the album earns its keep. Couple John Anderson’s voice with the strong material from Easy Money and you have one of the best albums of the year. — Brady Vercher
Recommended: “Bonnie Blue,” “A Woman Knows,” “You Already Know My Love”
Unlike Johnny Cash’s last recordings, Porter Wagoner’s swan song is all about rebirth. Recorded a year after Wagoner suffered a near-fatal abdominal aortic aneurysm, Wagonmaster is not the work of a man speaking from the grave. It’s a remarkably vital collection of songs that brought Wagoner to national television, Madison Square Garden, and numerous other appearances that were preempted by his sudden passing. Wagoner performed his new material weekly at the Grand Ole Opry: “Who Knows Right from Wrong” was the last song that Wagoner ever performed. Wagonmaster is a survey of the music that Wagoner spent a lifetime producing, and it’s representative both in theme and quality. The country Gospel tunes, the recitations, the ballads and the jaunty novelty tunes are all there, and it’s not hard to imagine most of the tracks on this collection becoming classic recordings if handed to Wagoner in 1958. — Matt C.
Recommended: “Committed to Parkview,” “Men With Broken Hearts / I Heard that Lonesome Whistle Blow,” “My Many Hurried Southern Trips”
Whether Turner is bellowing blistering honky-tonk numbers or crooning poetic ballads he sounds wholly within his element and with the possible exception of “Trailerhood”, he couldn’t have picked a better collection of songs to effectively highlight his strengths and carry forward the momentum set in motion by his early radio success. — Brody Vercher
Recommended: “Another Try,” “Nowhere Fast,” “The Longer the Waiting (The Sweeter the Kiss)”
With Heaven, Heartache and the Power of Love, Mrs. Garth Brooks reasserted herself as a country powerhouse, delivering a string of captivating vocal performances over a core of wonderfully crafted, musically diverse songs. While most of her female contemporaries tried to find their niche market (and thus, their niche musical approach) in 2007, Yearwood’s 10th studio album shattered expectations by successfully drawing from many of the genre’s root influences. Western, Blues, Americana, this album brought them all together under the big-tent of country music, and the result was a rich, textured album that will be remembered and listened to for years to come. — Jim Malec
Recommended: “Dreaming Fields,” “Cowboys Are My Weakness,” “Sing You Back To Me”
- luckyoldsun: Jim Z-- I get the feeling Barry was this close to calling you what Kinky Friedman called his guy from El …
- Leeann Ward: Thanks, NM. I like a good pop hook, to be honest. So, maybe I need to try it again.
- Barry Mazor: OK, Jim Z. That changes everything. I surrender.
- Jim Z: to call the Dirty River Boys an "Austin area band" is still incorrect. They are based in El Paso.
- nm: Leeann, you and I often have similar tastes in more-traditional country. And, to my ears, Sam Hunt's voice and lyrics …
- Barry Mazor: Matter of fact, as always--I did. The notes say the album was recorded & mixed by and at "The …
- Roger: Looking forward to picking up the Jamey Johnson Christmas EP - love all of those songs and can't wait for …
- Jim Z: that record was recorded in El Paso. (you could look it up) and other than appearing in Austin once in …
- Leeann Ward: Yes, I can always use more dobro in my life! Thanks for the Phil Leadbetter tip! I haven't been able to …
- Barry Mazor: OK, Jim. The record's more or less out of Austin. But I'm sure they're also good in El Paso...