Top 10 Country Albums Of 2008

Staff | December 30th, 2008

The return of a legend. The emergence of two legends’ sons. The unexpected pairing of two husband-and-wife duos. These were among the stories that defined country music in 2008.

This year’s top albums came to us from every corner of the country music spectrum–from Australia to the coal mines of Appalachia to the stage of a CMT talent competition. And despite the wealth of utterly atrocious music that we had to endure in 2008, it was a year that, in many ways, celebrated the great diversity of the genre; our list includes an acoustically-driven Americana album, the oft-humorous musings of a trendsetting Texan, and a collection of country classics as sung by one of our all-time great voices. It was, to that end, a good year for country music–at least in the eyes of those willing to dig a little bit beyond the surface of the mainstream.

Our list was compiled by taking a survey of The 9513′s writers. We then used a numerical ranking formula to assign point values based on an album’s ranking within each individual’s list, with the final Top 10 ultimately resulting from those rankings. The following staffers participated in this year’s survey: Brady Vercher (Editor), Brody Vercher (Editor), Jim Malec (Managing Editor), Kelly Dearmore (Podcast Editor/Host), Ben Cisneros (Correspondent), CM Wilcox (Contributing Writer), Karlie Justus (Contributing Writer), Juli Thanki (Contributing Writer) and Pierce Greenberg (Contributing Writer).

Individual Staff Picks

You can read each writer’s individual Top 10 (with comments) by clicking here.

A note about box sets and re-issues:
2008 saw a wide swath of quality box sets and re-issues, a number of which surely would have earned spots on this list. The Hank Williams Sr. Unreleased Recordings, for example, is considered by many to be the best and most important country music album released in 2008. Other notable albums that fall into this category are the Legacy Edition of Johnny Cash’s At Folsom Prison and the Mercury release of Jamey Johnson’s That Lonesome Song, an album previously released independently (and which appeared on last year’s list). While we recognize the value of these releases, we have chosen to focus our list on the new music being created and heard for the first time in 2008.

Top Country Albums of 2008

Ralph Stanley II - This One Is Two 10. This One Is Two, Ralph Stanley II

This One Is Two is an album filled with heaven, hell, the road, trains, honky-tonks, Mama, longing for home, a little bit of love and a whole lot of heartbreak–all parts which make up the heart of country music. It is not an album for the post-Idol crowd–those people who say they like country, as long as it’s not too twangy; those people who say they like country as long as it’s not slow and sad; those people who say they like country, so long as it’s not too, well, country. And I’m exceptionally thankful for that because it is, nonetheless, a remarkable record–one made for those of us who not only appreciate but crave all of the above. — Jim Malec

Recommended: “L.A. County,” “They Say I’ll Never Go Home,” “Carter”

Reckless Kelly - Bulletproof 9. Bulletproof, Reckless Kelly

Call it country or call it rock–Bulletproof is just outstandingly smart, hooky, hard-charging music that kicks off in high gear and doesn’t let up. Braun and the boys have never sounded more confident. — CM Wilcox.

Bulletproof is exceptionally pleasing. Reckless Kelly has delivered a detail-oriented sonic masterpiece with tracks perfectly constructed so as to give each instrumental nugget enough space to glow, without causing the whole to sound overly sparse. — Jim Malec

Recommended: “Ragged As The Road,” “Love In Her Eyes,” “Bulletproof”

Randy Travis - Around The Bend 8. Around The Bend, Randy Travis

Though his recent spate of gospel records wasn’t half bad, it sure is nice to see Randy Travis back to recording (mostly) secular straight-up country music. Around The Bend is Travis at his very best. — Juli Thanki

After a string of bluegrass and gospel albums, it’s good to have Travis back doing what he does best: using his voice’s unique timbre to relate the full spectrum of emotions of country love songs. The strong variety of material on Around The Bend doesn’t disappoint. — Karlie Justus

Recommended: “Everything I Own (Has Got a Dent),” “Dig Two Graves,” “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright”

Kathy Mattea - Coal 7. Coal, Kathy Mattea

The real highlight of this set is the strength of the narrative presence, with Mattea providing the voice of truth and compassion that binds together these disparate tales of life in the mines. — CM Wilcox

Mattea has taken a collection of songs that stood well on their own when released previously and molded them into her greater thematic vision to tell the story of coal mining families and a brief history of coal mining itself. It’s a heavy bit of material that doesn’t pull any punches. — Brady Vercher

Recommended: “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive,” “Dark as a Dungeon,” “Green Rolling Hills”

Patty Loveless - Sleepless Nights6. Sleepless Nights, Patty Loveless

It hardly seems fair that Patty Loveless should deliver another career record just seven years after 2001′s Mountain Soul, but the always-estimable singer can’t help but astound when paired with some of the finest country songs ever written. The album’s subtitle–The Traditional Country Soul of Patty Loveless–is no mere marketing catchphrase: Loveless bares it all, offering a bit of herself in every syllable. — CM Wilcox

Recommended: “Crazy Arms,” “Sleepless Nights,” “I Forget More Than You’ll Ever Know”

Lee Ann Womack - Call Me Crazy 5. Call Me Crazy, Lee Ann Womack

Womack is hands down the best female singer being played on commercial country radio these days. She’s got pipes like you wouldn’t believe, a knack for picking—and co-writing—strong material, and a traditionalist soul that will hopefully serve as a gateway drug to pop-country fans. “Everything but Quits,” her collaboration with George Strait, is destined to become one of country music’s classic duets. — Juli Thanki

If you want proof of Womack’s dyed-in-the-wool traditionalism, hear the way her voice drips regret and sorrow even on the honeyed pop confections here. She’s an exceptional country singer regardless of the material handed to her, but becomes damn near unbeatable when hooked up with stone-cold traditional numbers like “If These Walls Could Talk” and Jim Lauderdale’s “King of Broken Hearts.” — CM Wilcox

Recommended: “Either Way,” “Everything But Quits,” “If These Walls Could Talk”

Justin Townes Earle - The Good Life 4. The Good Life, Justin Townes Earle
Justin Townes Earle wants to save country music–and he seriously might. The Good Life is a charming and impressive debut that finds Earle making the old new again. He has a distinct and smooth baritone with a touch of twang, he has a firm grasp on the rhythm of language, and he’s bold enough to play his mix of honky-tonk, riverboat folk, and pop music with no apologies. It’s young, old, smart, simple, and is almost surely going to mark the start of an impressive and impactful career. A really beautiful record. — Ben Cisneros

Recommended: “Far Away In Another Town,” “The Good Life,” “Lonesome And You”

Hayes Carll - Trouble In Mind 3. Trouble In Mind, Hayes Carll

Carll’s album mines the rich interior life of the traveling troubadour and barroom loser, finding room for remarkable expressions of regret, humor, and self-understanding. Handling rollicking rockers and reflective ballads with similar proficiency and his trademark wit still very much intact, Carll is one of the finest young singer-songwriters working today. — CM Wilcox

Although Carll may be best known for “She Left Me for Jesus,” the year’s best collection of drinking songs also delivers one of the best lyrics, from its cut “A Bad Liver and a Broken Heart”: “Does anyone care about truth anymore/Maybe that’s what songs are for.” — Karlie Justus

Recommended: “Knockin’ Over Whiskeys,” “Beaumont,” “Drunken Poet’s Dream”

Joey Plus Rory - The Life of a Song 2. The Life Of A Song, Joey + Rory

Joey + Rory’s The Life Of A Song is notable for the way the husband and wife duo seamlessly blend their voices together, and also for the often startling strength of its material. It is most notable, however, for its vulnerability–a trait seriously lacking from most contemporary country music (mainstream and otherwise). Joey sings about her man’s obsession with the rodeo with a desperate weakness and about her grandfather’s stories with a child-like charm, and her ability and willingness to completely open herself up and allow us to see the most private parts of her emotions sets her uniquely apart as a vocalist. — Jim Malec

Recommended: “Sweet Emmylou,” “Cheater Cheater,” “The Heart Of The Wood”

Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson - Rattlin 1. Rattlin’ Bones, Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson

The Australian husband and wife duo knock it out of the park on the first pitch with Rattlin’ Bones, an album with tracks that range from Gram-and-Emmylou style duets to bluegrass-tinged oldtimey gospel. Though both Chambers and Nicholson are accomplished solo artists, clearly this record is worth more than the sum of its parts. — Juli Thanki

Chambers and Nicholson strip country music down to some of its most elemental roots on this stunning and unapologetically gritty collection. Here is country music the way it was meant to be, a satisfying exploration of the coarseness of the human condition and the sweetness of redemption. Supported by acoustic foundations and blending a stark, sparse traditionalism with hints of bluegrass, Rattlin’ Bones is a country music masterpiece. — Jim Malec

Recommended: “Rattlin’ Bones,” “Once In A While,” “The House That Never Was”

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  1. B
    December 30, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    I haven’t actually heard of a few of them. Will give me something to check out during this slow time.

  2. Drew
    December 30, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    Not bad, although I don’t really agree with the folk/americana selections at 3/4.

  3. CMW
    December 30, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    Not to gloat or anything, but there’s just one album in the overall Top Ten that didn’t make my personal Top Ten, and that one was a very narrow miss: Ralph Stanley II was edged out by Rodney Hayden and The Steeldrivers on my list, coming in at #12. So, what do I win?

  4. Leeann Ward
    December 30, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    Awesome list! I’m especially elated about your #1 choice!

    I’m surprised the see the Travis album so high, but not in a bad way. While it didn’t make my personal top ten or our collective one, I definitely liked it enough to mention it honorably. I think it was like #11 on my personal list. I can’t get over the Dylan cover!

    As for the Joey + Rory album, I would have rated it higher on my personal list, but just a couple of songs held me back. Otherwise, I really like it.

  5. Leeann Ward
    December 30, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    I think my personal list was most closely aligned with CMW’s. Shocker! Okay not really.

    I will admit, however, that I was actually shocked that Ben likes the Sugarland album so much. I really never would’ve guessed that one.

  6. Trailer
    December 30, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    Great list. I’ll have to give J plus R some more spins.

  7. Razor X
    December 30, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    No mention of Emmylou Harris??

  8. Mike K
    December 30, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    Great, I always appreciate the takes of each member of the 9513. However, I think a few years from now J + R’s record will fade in comparison to some of the others that you have listed particularly if the guys at 3 and 4 continue to build on the promise of the records they released this year. I don’t think J + R will wind up having the significance of the other relative newcomers.

  9. Kelly
    December 30, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    I wish we could’ve had a top 15, and of course, I battled with the whole “what is country” question. As a result, I almost left off Reckless Kelly and did leave off Drive by Truckers, Kathleen Edwards and Rodney Parker (even though each of those artists have quite a bit of twang). Also, the Mattea, Stanley II and Earle album didnt resonate with me as strongly as it did with the other voters for some reason…

    Is it possible to find out what albums barely missed the top 10? It looks like Jason Boland and Ashton Shpeherd just barely missed…

  10. J.R. Journey
    December 30, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    I have 6 of these 10 albums …

    Great list and comments as always, guys!

  11. mimi
    December 30, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    Well I am Shocked! Where is Taylor’s Fearless? HA!

  12. Mike Parker
    December 30, 2008 at 3:21 pm

    I imagine Fearless got some votes… but it’s just not as good as what did make it. My top four were exactly what you came up with- and I thought the J&R album was a bit of a dark horse choice. Matt King rounded out my number 5 with “Rube.”

  13. Dan Milliken
    December 30, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    Good stuff, y’all. Looks like my tastes aligned most closely with Brady’s this year, but I like most of the albums mentioned, and the diversity of opinions makes for some interesting reading. Well done.

  14. Sam G.
    December 30, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    Nice to see Americana represented so well on the list. It’s a pretty sad indictment of mainstream country radio that Lee Ann Womack and Joey + Rory are the only ones in the list getting radio play, and not nearly enough at that.

  15. Drew
    December 30, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    A couple others I’d mention if it were me:

    1) Hank Williams Unreleased Recordings – more Hank, enough said.

    2) Cadillac Sky – “Gravity’s Our Enemy” : a really great piece of “newgrass”.

    3) John Michael Montgomery – “Time Flies” : hasn’t been talked about much, but more great stuff from Montgomery.

    4) Jennifer Hanson – “Thankful” : great voice and some really nice pieces of music on this one, I was really impressed.

    5) Blake Shelton – “Startin’ Fires” : I’ve always liked Blake and his vocals, and although the songs are all pretty similar like the review on here stated, I really liked it.

  16. Leeann Ward
    December 30, 2008 at 5:33 pm

    Drew, the Hank box set was disqualified from this list, as stated above. It was disqualified from our list as well. I received it as a Christmas gift and I truly love it though.

    As for the other albums that you mention, I was underwhelmed by all of them, to be honest. I’ll admit that I haven’t listened to the Montgomery album because I don’t find his music to be too appealing, except for a few catchy radio hits from long ago. I, however, have read from others that this album was decent, though I can’t recall if they were people that I typically agree with on music.

    I think my list aligned halfway with Brady’s as well. I’m going to try the Haden album that you all have mentioned again. I’ve listened to clips, but must not have been impressed enough to give it a serious try at the time. It’s obviously highly recommended here judging by all of your individual lists.

  17. Brady Vercher
    December 30, 2008 at 5:38 pm

    CMW: According to the correlation coefficient, your list was the most similar to the final results. I guess we can deem you King of the (Middle of the) Road.
    ——

    Kelly: Shepherd and Boland are actually sitting down at 15 and 16.
    ——

    Drew: Other than Hank Williams, which we excluded for reasons mentioned above, I don’t think any of those albums are close to best-of-the-year quality.
    ——

    Leeann: The Hayden album just missed the top 10, but it’s certainly worth giving a listen. Check out the songs I put on the Best of the Month list in October.

  18. PaulaW
    December 30, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    I think Randy Travis should’ve been much higher on the list. :-)

  19. CMW
    December 30, 2008 at 6:01 pm

    Fun fact: No single album made it into everyone’s top ten. I probably shouldn’t find that surprising, but I do.

  20. Leeann Ward
    December 30, 2008 at 6:14 pm

    I believe that happened with us as well. Oh wait, I think Rattlin’ Bones may have made it on all of our lists and deservedly so, of course.:)

  21. Leeann Ward
    December 30, 2008 at 6:18 pm

    …And CMW’s top two choices also mirror those of the collective list.

  22. B
    December 30, 2008 at 6:35 pm

    I liked that Joey+Rory album as well even though it didn’t make my top 5 since I opted for a little more mainstream for better or worse but if that album would have had the push some other artists had it would have sold a lot or if this were 20 years ago the album would have gone platinum. The album is pretty timeless, I am just waiting now for the first country act to use autotune on their album and that’s when we know it is all over haha.

  23. Marc
    December 30, 2008 at 6:43 pm

    I’m just stunned Jamie Johnson is NOT on this list.

    and…

    rightfully so.

  24. Roger
    December 30, 2008 at 7:25 pm

    “Matt King rounded out my number 5 with “Rube.””

    I agree Mike, “Rube” is one of the most interesting cd’s i’ve bought in a long time, almost disturbing at times but something keeps drawing me back to it time and time again.

  25. Leeann Ward
    December 30, 2008 at 7:58 pm

    Marc, don’t get too excited. It wasn’t here because it wasn’t eligible according to their rules, which includes the fact that it was on last years list.

  26. scooter
    December 30, 2008 at 8:19 pm

    Around the bend and Joey + Rory are my favorites and would be high on my list. I’m not a fan of the womack cd-just not my thing. Kathy Mattea falls flat for me too even though I’m a big fan of hers. Don’t like the patty loveless either- i guess i don’t like cds of covers because I didn’t like Martina’s either. Ashton Sheperd and Jamey Johnson would be at the top of my list.

  27. Jim Malec
    December 30, 2008 at 8:22 pm

    I appreciate the people who actually read articles.

    As Leeann pointed out, I think I made it VERY clear why Jamey Johnson was left off of this list.

  28. Chris D.
    December 31, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    Very nice list, I actually own half these albums, and all 5 were on my year end list, which I find surprising. I guess I need to look closer at the other 5 albums now!

  29. Brady Vercher
    December 31, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    Let me guess, Chris D, you own the albums that feature women?

  30. Pierce
    December 31, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    A very good list indeed…

    I guess I am the odd man out with only 2 of my top 10 making the cut!

  31. Chris D.
    December 31, 2008 at 5:41 pm

    Yes, Brady. xD

    Am I that predictable? Or did you already see my list last week?

  32. Cheryl
    December 31, 2008 at 7:58 pm

    I love Leanne Womak and Patty’s albums. Good list.

  33. Rick
    December 31, 2008 at 8:54 pm

    Of all the lists I’d say my tastes are mirrored most by Karlie Justus, with the notable exception of Shooter Jennings (who makes my skin crawl). Therefore I would like to congratulate Karlie for having the best overall tastes in country music of all of the 9513 contributors! (lol)

    I must say that the validity of any of this is made highly suspect by the large presence of Texas based artists that show up on many of the individual lists contained herein, excluding the Houston based artists that is. Too much red dirt in your eyes and ears can cloud a person’s musical judgement! (jk)

  34. Brant Cotton
    December 31, 2008 at 8:56 pm

    That Lonesome Song by Jamey Johnson was ignored?, I don’t get it. I rarely buy new material, either due to overproduction or cliched and unoriginal lyrics that attempt to manipulate the listener and artificially pull the heartstrings. There is a saying I heard a while ago “When truth walks in the room everyone in the room knows it”. Well with this album, TRUTH walked in the room, and smacks you in the head. I loved it. The naked honesty of his writing and fresh perspective on on an old subject was beyond refreshing. To quote a recent Wall Street journal article. “This is an album that has legs.

  35. Rick
    January 1, 2009 at 11:13 am

    Hey, where’s a topic thread for us 9513 participants to list our 10 favorites of 2008? Discrimination! (lol) Of the 2008 releases I acquired my most listened to favorites are in no particular order:

    Favorite Big Label Nashville Releases:
    Ashton Shepherd – Sounds So Good
    Jamey Johnson – That Lonesome Song
    Jypsi – Jypsi
    Favorite Traditional Texas Artists:
    Amber Digby – Passion, Pride & What Might Have Been
    Miss Leslie Sloan – Between the Whiskey and the Wine
    Kimberly Murray – Once Upon a Time in a Honky Tonk
    Favorite Australian Releases:
    Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson – Rattlin’ Bones
    Kimber Sparks – It’s Her Turn
    Bec Willis – Bec Willis
    Best Real Country Album to Come Out of Nashville:
    Joey + Rory – The Life of a Song

    (Honorable mention to The Belleville Outfit’s “Wanderin’” and the self titled debut from Carter’s Chord.)

    I never purchased the majority of the albums included in the personal Top 10 lists of the 9513 staff and contributors. I’d probably like most of it (well except for Sugarland) but I can’t rate what I haven’t heard.

    Happy New Year everybody!

  36. Baron Lane
    January 1, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    Great job. It’s always a tough call to pick just 10.

  37. Paul W Dennis
    January 1, 2009 at 11:49 pm

    It wasn’t an outstanding year for new music. The Hank Sr box of radio transcriptions should be regarded as new music since (almost) nobody had ever heard any of it and I would place it at number one

    The new albums by Amber Digby, Leona Williams, Charlie Louvin, Del McCoury, Kathy Mattea, Patti Loveless, Lee Ann Womack and Joey & Rory were all pretty solid efforts.

    I’ve only heard part of the RATTLIN’ BONES album and wasn’t impressed enough with what I heard to purchase it but I’ll see if I can give it a full listen at one of the local shoppes

  38. Karlie
    January 2, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    Rick–glad we can agree. Also, I’m not sure if you were the second “Rick” commenter above as well, but I would agree that I was underwhelmed by the Sugarland release as well. But from what I’ve seen, we’re definitely in the minority on that one.

  39. Kelly
    January 2, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    To Brant: I am sure everyone else is tired of saying it, so I will. The Johnson disc, while excellent wasnt eligible due to the fact that The 9513 honored it a tremendous amount in 2007 when it was originally released via Johnson himself…

    To Rick: I know you probably hate me saying this everytime you bash “red dirt” (jokingly, or not…probably not), but for someone who has bashed “airhead country”, is it so hard for you to believe that people will resort to other areas to find quality music that sits outside of the mainstream (you are seen in a comment above touting acts from other countries even). I am lucky that in my case, I can often times find it on my doorstep here in good ol’ Texas. Also, given the large amount of “big Texas releases” this year, you only see a few select “shared names” on each list, Texas or otherwise. Boland, Carll (who has been honored by everyone), 1100 Springs and Reckless Kelly hardly represent but a mere fraction of what was released under the banner of “red Dirt” this year. Decent albums by Brandon Rhyder, Roger Creager, Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen were basically ignored by our lists even though those releases were extremely heralded here in Texas. It’s not just us, look around and you will see that the reviews given to RK, Boland and Carll on a national level are overwhelmingly positive, so it isnt just the 9513 that has “red dirt in our eyes”.

  40. Troy
    January 2, 2009 at 5:05 pm

    I had Trace Adkins X and Taylor Swift Fearless on my top 10 list.

  41. ccf
    January 3, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    Here are my top 10

    1. Tennessee Pusher: Old Crow Medicine Show
    2. All I intended to be. Emmy Lou Harris
    3. Coal Kathy Mattea
    4 Bar of Gold Arty hill and the long gone daddies
    5 The Good Life, Yuma, Justin Townes Earle.
    6.Scotty Campbell Smokin and Drinkin
    7. 12 ounce world Rodney Hayden
    8.The Steeldrivers: The Steeldrivers
    9:Down Town Cowboy: Tom phillips and the men of constant sorrow
    10.This one is Two Ralph Stanley 2

  42. Rick
    January 4, 2009 at 10:57 pm

    Karlie, I tend to be such a cheeky bastard around here that I really don’t think anyone else would use my name except by mistake! (lol) Now that I know your tastes in country music are the most similar to mine of any of the 9513 reviewers, I’ll pay closer attention to your recommendations and maybe buy something! By relying on the judgement of Texas music lovers here I wound up purchasing CDs from 1100 Springs and Aaron Watson and they just didn’t ring my chime, so now I’m wary of male artists from the Lone Star State!

    Kelly, I just enjoy poking fun at the Texas Regional and Red Dirt music scenes because I know so many contributors here are into that stuff. I know the music is geared towards live shows with younger audiences but the music just doesn’t interest me for the most part. Texas is home to some of my current favorite artists like Sunny Sweeney, Amber Digby, Leslie Sloan, and Kimberly Murray but they don’t seem to be part of the Texas Regional Music charts apart from Sunny on occasion. Instead its Miranda Lambert and Maren Morris that get the attention, although I do like Shawna Russell to a point. You shouldn’t take what I write here seriously ’cause I sure don’t! (lol)

  43. scooter
    January 5, 2009 at 7:42 pm

    I downloaded the Hayes Carll album and I really like it. I didn’t think I would after listening to the previews on amazon. For $5.00 on amazon its a great deal. The Ralph Stanley II sounds really interesting- next on my list.

  44. ccf
    January 6, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    I made a mistake on my list Here is the correct one

    1. Tennessee Pusher: Old Crow Medicine Show
    2. All I intended to be. Emmy Lou Harris
    3. Coal Kathy Mattea
    4 Bar of Gold Arty hill and the long gone daddies
    5 The Good Life, Yuma, Justin Townes Earle.
    6.Scotty Campbell Smokin and Drinkin
    7. 12 ounce world Rodney Hayden
    8.Miss Leslie Between the Whiskey and the Wine
    9:Down Town Cowboy: Tom phillips and the men of constant sorrow
    10.This one is Two Ralph Stanley 2

    I had the Steel Drivers at number 8 and it should have been Miss Leslie instead.

  45. Mike Wimmer
    January 11, 2009 at 8:51 am

    My top 10

    That Lonesome Song-Jamey Johnson
    If We Ever Make It Home-Wade Bowen
    Heart Of Stone-Chris Knight
    Bulletproof-Reckless Kelly
    Randy Rogers Band-Randy Rogers Band
    Comal County Blue-Jason Boland
    Call Me Crazy-Lee Ann Womack
    Sex and Gasoline-Rodney Crowell
    Naive-Micky and The Motorcars
    Jet Black and Jealous-Eli Young Band
    My Side Of Town-Jeremy McComb

  46. Leeann Ward
    January 12, 2009 at 6:32 pm

    Listening to the Hayden album and I really like it!

  47. Paul W Dennis
    January 18, 2009 at 8:35 pm

    I waited until now to post to give myself a chance to listen to everything one more time. I must give the caveat that my taste for bluegrass is very limited. When vinyl was king I rarely listened to more than one side of an album before switching to something else, with the exception of albums by Flatt & Scruggs, Jimmy Martin and the Osborne Brothers. In the CD era , I’ve added Rhonda Vincent to those I can play past one CD at a time.

    Here’s my list, from a traditionalists perspective

    First some honorable mentions

    OPEN THAT GATE by John England & the Western Swings – another great album by a group that really knows western swing

    AROUND THE BEND by Randy Travis – the voice isn’t quite what it once was

    CHERRYHOLMES III

    THE LIFE OF A SONG by Joey + Rory. Another solid album except “Cheater, Cheater” really leaves me cold – and I don’t need the word ‘ho’ ever to show up again in a country song

    MONEYLAND by Del McCoury and guests – very interesting concept album

    10. RATTLIN’ BONES by Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson. Once I had a chance to hear the entire album, my appreciation for it increased considerably. This is indeed a very solid album

    9. SOUNDS SO GOOD – Ashton Shepherd – a good first effort

    8. CALL ME CRAZY – Lee Ann Womack – still not as good as her initial efforts but a near return to form

    7. GOOD THING GOING by Rhonda Vincent – solid album. While not quite as good as her last album, “World’s Biggest Fool” was the best new track I heard all year

    6 SINGS MURDER BALLADS AND DISASTER SONGS – Charlie Louvin – the voice may not be what it once once, but it’s perfect for this collection of rather depressing songs

    5. MISS RHYTHM – Lee Ann Noel – this album features a nice mix of covers and originals. “If You’re Looking For A Fool” is one of the three or four best new tracks I heard in 2008

    This album will be the hardest one to chase down. You can buy it from her at her shows. Otherwise try http://www.leeannnoel.com

    4. COAL – Kathy Mattea – every good thing you’ve already read about this disc is true

    3. DAILEY AND VINCENT by Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent – this duo revitalizes the lost art of bluegrass duos

    2. SLEEPLESS NIGHTS by Patty Loveless – some of the greatest songs ever written covered by one of the best female voices ever. What more could you want

    1. PASSION, PRIDE AND WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN by Amber Digby her uncle, Darrell McCall is a better singer than any of the male singers currently charting, so it figures that Amber might have inherited some talent. Amber continues to improve with each album – in a few years she’ll be the best female country singer in the entire Milky Way galaxy

  48. Razor X
    January 18, 2009 at 11:05 pm

    ” …THE LIFE OF A SONG by Joey + Rory. Another solid album except “Cheater, Cheater” really leaves me cold – and I don’t need the word ‘ho’ ever to show up again in a country song …”

    I could not agree more.

  49. Nicolas
    January 18, 2009 at 11:49 pm

    I disagree, “Cheater, Cheater” is such a breath of fresh air – I absolutely love that song!

  50. Michael
    January 21, 2009 at 11:01 pm

    Excellent list! I loved Lee Ann Womack’s and Patty Loveless’ efforts this year and, if they’re not getting huge sales, it’s at least good to see these vets get some recognition. I also enjoyed Joey + Rory’s debut.

  51. donna
    February 7, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    i have a question i hope someone can answer who sings a song with the lyces wait a minute did i hear you say your going far away

  52. Jon
    February 7, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    There are several versions of “Wait A Minute” available. It was written by Herb Pedersen, and you can hear him sing it with his band, the Laurel Canyon Ramblers, on their Blue Rambler 2. The Seldom Scene also recorded it several times, including on the Old Train and Scene 20 albums. And Alan Jackson recorded it on that album Alison Krauss produced on him, the title of which I’m forgetting at the moment. To my ear, the Scene 20 version is the best of the bunch.

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