Author: Leon Blair
2016 has been an interesting year in country music, enough to where it might arguably even be considered polarizing. On the bad side we had WAY too many country legends pass away (well, celebrities in general), and there are some critics out there who would even argue it's been a weak year for country music.
On the other hand, you have people who are optimistic about the future of mainstream country music, as it seems that room is being made for more traditional sounding country music as well as just substance in general. Moreover I've seen people argue that this has been a great year for country music's quality overall.
I'm somewhere in the middle, but I lean a lot more towards the latter stance. Nowhere have I seen more proof that Country and Americana have thrived this year than in the nine albums I have chosen for that "album of the year" position. Again, I know I've already spoiled it, but let's at least pretend I didn't.
Now, I take this coveted position VERY seriously, mostly because I think a true "album of the year" nominee is one that stirs you as a music listener and inspires creativity and nuance rather than enjoyment. That's what I believe the following nine albums have done. I regret not being able to cover them this year, but there's always next year. So without further ado, here are my candidates for "Album Of The Year"
(Presented in alphabetical order by artist name)
Author: Leon Blair
You know, it's pretty sad when I find the lyrics to be the weakest element of numerous country albums this year, mainstream or otherwise. Don't get me wrong, artists such as Lori McKenna, Brandy Clark, and BJ Barham have all been anomalies to that claim, but still, in terms of quantity, top-notch songwriting has definitely been down compared to past years.
So naturally, when I start to hear buzz about an artist whose biggest selling point is her songwriting, I'm going to pay attention. That brings us to Courtney Marie Andrews. Originally from Arizona, Courtney has been doing what any aspiring musician has been doing – working her ass off to make her dreams come true. She had been a backup singer and guitarist for many artists including Jimmy Eat World and Damien Jurado as well as writing her own material on her time. Of course, that desire to write more original material led Courtney to craft her 2011 album, On My Page, which subsequently (and ironically) found her once again back on the road working for others musicians.