Feb 22, 2021
Feb 8, 2021
Jan 27, 2021
Jan 5, 2021
Dec 30, 2020
As someone who has never really been a Sturgill apologist, this album made me a believer. It is something special to be able to reimagine an entire album’s worth of one’s work at all, let alone with such fresh, engaging results. It takes something even more special to deliver a bluegrass album with nuance and restraint, and Simpson does just that, proving that bluegrass is not always about instrumental prowess, but sometimes about simplicity and emotion.
This record is not just about the title track and its important message; rather, it’s about the eight fiddle tunes leading up to the climax of the album. Childers listed several ways to cling to Southern roots in the accompanying video for the title track, ways to preserve the culture without embracing the South’s racist history. But that speech is not as important as his example itself; this album is Childers cherishing his Southern heritage the right way, by learning old-time fiddle songs and sharing them with an audience who might never have heard them otherwise. It is in this context that the title track and the album itself shine, and this is one of the most important records of the year.
Caitlin Cannon made one of the most interesting country debuts in recent years with her self-reflective album. As the title states, she leaves no secret hidden, airing all her dirty laundry and that of her family for the sake of the song. But for all its darkness and scandal, everything is good-natured and fun, and this is certainly one of the most entertaining albums of the year.
When people say the state of mainstream country is beyond repair, introduce them to Ashley McBryde. When they say that women only sing about happy endings and heartbreak, introduce them to Ashley McBryde. When they say that you can only make it big in Nashville if you sell out, introduce them to Ashley McBryde. And don’t give McBryde or this record any qualifiers; she is not the best mainstream country artist in 2020, and this is not the best mainstream country album; rather, she is one of the best artists and this is one of the best albums in all of country music this year.
In one of the most politically charged eras of our country’s history, Steve Earle showed tremendous leadership by purposely writing a record for those who don’t share his political beliefs. But that would matter little if the resulting project weren’t stellar. Earle’s love letter to West Virginia and tribute to those who died in the Upper Big Branch mine is thoughtful and timeless, evoking the beauty of Appalachia and the spirit of its people, simultaneously highlighting the hardship and hope that runs through these dark mountains. This record has been criminally overlooked, and this is your chance to rectify that injustice.
Dec 18, 2020
Dec 8, 2020
(Idea "borrowed" from Medium)
Dustin Lynch - Tullahoma
You were kicked out of at least 3 stores for not wearing a mask in 2020. You don’t really like music, you just like Dustin’s smile, abs, and … wait, you’ve moved on to Russell Dickerson.
Russell Dickerson - Southern Symphony
You have the attention span of a 2-year-old and this is the most recent pop country album that came out. You don’t have a boyfriend, but if you did, he’d leave you for your godawful taste in music.
Upchurch - Everlasting Country
You’ve only heard it twice during your allotted media time at the prison library but you love it. Your parents are more proud of your brother, a furry who smokes synthetic marijuana.
Elizabeth Cook - Aftermath
You have put a man into a headlock for the last cigarette. You’ve showed up to church looking like a million bucks after a night of drinking that would have ended a normal human.
Drive-by Truckers - The Unravelling
You’ve been a fan since way back. Way back in 2016. Your real life friends hate you despite having the same political beliefs.
Sam Hunt - Southside
You’re either an idiot, or an otherwise intelligent music journalist with one major blind spot.
Matt Stell - Better Than That
You’re one of the 17 people who know who Matt Stell is, despite him having two #1 hits.
Arlo McKinley - Die Midwestern
Based on your listening habits, people would assume you’re a hard-living rancher or trucker, but they know better because they work in the cubicle next to yours.
Tyler Childers - Long Violent History
You’re able to look past click-bait headlines to see the true meaning and measure of a man. Also, your standards for old timey fiddle music are pretty low.
Keith Urban - The Speed of Now
You worked from home all year, but made fun of people who were worried about Covid. You love Yellowstone, but hate that old timey music they play. Your kids couldn’t spell their own names until they were 8 - not because they have learning disabilities - because their names are some shit like Matthieuwe or Khelleighe.