It is that time of year again when we start to wind down and look at the highs and lows of 2019! There have been some superb moments in Country music in 2019, there's been some controversy too but I wanted to present to you my top five albums of 2019! It was a tough one to narrow down but I think I have just about managed it. So without further ado here are my top picks!
5. Luke Combs - What You See Is What You Get
This will stir up some trouble no doubt, Luke only at number 5!? Well that shows you what a great year it has been! This album has held the number one spot for a few weeks on the Billboard Country albums chart and rightly so, the singles from this have all made it to the top in the singles and/or radio charts. It features some of Country Music's finest songwriters such as Jonathan Singleton, Josh Thompson and Barry Dean to name a few! His vocals are unique and he's a relatable guy, his lyrics are detailed and tell a story. The opening track Beer Never broke My Heart has been named by some industry pro's as being the country song of the year! My personal favourites are the gentle, Moon Over Mexico, the alliteration in the first verse helps this song flow whilst the space in the chorus melody allows those phrases to get stuck in your head. My other stand out track is the title track brilliantly crafted by Luke, Barry Dean and Jonathan Singleton. It's a song that sums Luke and his music up quite well and thus was a great basis for the concept of the whole album. With 17 tracks to enjoy this is an album you're going to be spinning over and over again and each time you'll hear something a little different and you'll change your favourite track after each spin.
4. Maren Morris - Girl
Back in March of this year Maren Morris released her second full length studio album, Girl. It is bitter sweet to listen back to now, her main collaborator both on this album and throughout her career, hit writer and producer Busbee, sadly passed away just a couple of months ago. The album which topped the Country albums chart features a couple of collaborations with Brothers Osborne and Brandi Carlile. I really like this album as I feel it shows Maren's progression both as an artist and as a strong, independent Woman. Sitting slightly more on the poppier side of Country this record still has the main aspects of Country with detailed, storytelling lyrics based on Maren's own personal experiences. The stand out track for me on this record was co-written by Morris, Laura Veltz and Jessie Jo Dillon and apparently is about Maren and Ryan Hurd's relationship, it's called To Hell and Back.
3. Miranda Lambert - Wildcard
Miranda's latest offering to the Country Music table came with mixed reviews from critics and fans alike with some fans saying there were a number of album fillers in the mix. However the quality of writers on this record is unrivalled, the Love Junkies feature heavily on the credits as do Natalie Hemby, Luke Dick and Jon Randall to name a few, fellow Pistol Annie Ashley Monroe also has a couple of credits. Miranda mainly sticks with the same brand of feisty Country we've come to know and love from her but she shows a different side to her, a pop/rockier side on Mess With My Head. She collaborates with Maren Morris on track 6, Way Too Pretty For Prison. It's a nice length for an album too, 14 tracks, enough to please the fans but not too many that you're looking for fillers, in my opinion. My standout track is Tequila Does, I really enjoy the time change in it, the first time makes you feel slightly uneasy going from 6/8 to 4/4 and back again but actually it's written and produced very well and you don't hear that kind of thing in Country very often these days.
2. Tanya Tucker - While I'm Livin
It's not just me who thinks this album is great! Tanya Tucker has been nominated for 4 Grammy's this year, Country album of the year for this record and Best Country Song, Best Country Solo Performance and all genre Song of the Year for the song Bring My Flowers Now off this album. It's Tanya's first album in a decade and was produced by Shooter Jennings and the currently unstoppable genius that is Brandi Carlile. There is no doubt about this record, it's pure Country from a Country Legend. Her stripped back rendition of The House That Built Me, made famous by Miranda Lambert and named Country Song of the Decade is beautiful and really touches the heart. But it's the song that is nominated for a Grammy, the only one Tanya helped to pen, that really strikes a chord with me. Bring My Flowers Now, however demanding it may sound, is actually a thought provoking number about showing your appreciation for someone now, whilst you still have the chance.
1. Lady Antebellum - Ocean
Yes in first place, my Country album of the year comes from Lady Antebellum. There's so much depth to their new record and I think that in part is due to the vast array of songwriters credited, there are 27 writers on this record giving it all kinds of flavours and genres whilst staying true to the sound we have come to know and love from the band. It opens with one of their most popular singles ever released, some compared this to their signature, 4 times Grammy award winning song, Need You Now, it's What If I Never Get Over You. A collaboration with the other big vocal group in Country music, Little Big Town, is a fan favourite - The Thing That Wrecks You was also co-written by rising star Tenille Townes. Be Patient With My Love reflects it's message in the tempo and production of the track whilst the final track Ocean, the title track, is stripped back and really shines a light on Hillary's vocals. This album has everything and is an essential in the modern Country fans collection!
So there you have it, what records have I missed? What would be your top 5?