Author: Leon Blair
Here it is folks, our final award for 2016 – album of the year.
It's been a strange year for music. There are some who think that this has been a fantastic year for Country and Americana as a whole, especially with the mainstream finally starting to churn out the most quality it's had in a LONG time. On the other hand, you will have people argue that this has been a down year in terms of top tier stellar projects, and I think there's good points hidden within both sides.
Now, I'm somewhere in the middle on this whole dilemma. In terms of quantity, yeah, I'm not sure we had an abundance of truly stellar projects, but I would argue that we had a ton of great ones. Plus, in terms of quality I think everything has held up fine. Heck, just look at our song of the year candidates and winner if you want more proof of that.
Many people love to clamor about how there's no clear cut winner for this award this year for any music outlet. Really though, years such as 2014 when Sturgill Simpson completely dominated the field are years that are rare to find. Most years feature a diverse selection of the best albums throughout a calendar year, and while we know that some have received more of the spotlight than others, we're not running a popularity contest here. The winner of Country Music Minds' 2016 Album Of The Year is one that really had to connect in all areas.
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
The best moments in music, especially country music have never been made alone. Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings are cited as the fathers of the outlaw movement, and guys like George Strait, Randy Travis, and Dwight Yoakam are known for bringing back integrity to a genre that was once thought doomed. Even now, we look to guys like Chris Stapleton, Jon Pardi, William Michael Morgan, and Mo Pitney to bring back a traditional country sound to the forefront of the mainstream. The theme of unity in country music isn't just prevalent in the songs submerged in its history, it's embodied within the artists themselves as well.
When Dave Cobb announced the birth of his super project, “Southern Family”, it seemed way too good to be true. The tracklist boasted arguably some of the best artists out there, and to have them all on one album? Yeah, my excitement for this was a tad high. So how is “Southern Family” anyway?