The Best Country Albums of 2017 (So Far)
The best country albums from any given year are timeless, and 2017 is no different. The top spots go to artists with a long history of making great country music, even if mainstream fans are just starting to learn their names.
Few will be surprised to see Chris Stapleton on this Best Country Albums of 2017 list. But From A Room, Volume 1 isn’t No. 1 on this V1.0 collection of great projects. Albums from Reba McEntire, Brad Paisley and newcomer Brett Young also get mad respect — Young has one of the Top 10 Songs of 2017, as well!
Fan and critic opinion weigh heavily on the making of this list, but sales, awards and the number of hit radio songs also play a role. It’s difficult to ignore an album that charts two or three hit songs in any given year, but few released so far seem capable of that. The superstars tend to hold albums until fall, so expect a final Top 10 that looks much different from this list, with one exception: The top spot is going to be tough to top.
Do you disagree with our list of of the best albums of 2017? Make you case in the comments section below. Only albums released in 2017 were considered. If an album isn’t included, it’s not because we didn’t like it, we just don’t think it has proven itself yet.
‘Love and War’
The important messages on Brad Paisley’s Love and War are nearly overshadowed by his extensive cast of guest artists, but songs like the title-track, “Last Time for Everything” and “Dying to See Her” put him back at the front of our country social conscience. Few are as capable of balancing a statement with commercial appeal as this vet. The dynamic Love and War is his finest effort in nearly a decade.
‘Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope’
McEntire’s first gospel album may feature a disc full of traditionals but it’s still a deeply personal project. Her story falls from every lyric, her pain is heard across so many choruses. The country legend does a masterful job of staying true to her sound and style in this new format. Credit to the singer for being willing to take on songs that cut so close to her sorrow. Out of that came joy.
The country newcomer and Taste of Country RISER released an album full of love songs without finding two that sound quite the same. Every expression feels genuine and original. The pop-friendly collection of musings from the California native’s heart and songbook is at its best when he leans into life’s highs and lows. He makes it look easy.
‘From A Room Volume 1′
Stapleton provides once again with the follow-up to Traveller. From A Room doesn’t surprise like his last, instead relying on the strength of his vocals and songwriting. That’s a great bet when you’re Chris Stapleton. He’s a a postman, dropping notes of blues, soul, pain and sorrow into your mailbox. This is a moody, nine-song album that reinforces all we know.
Aaron Watson’s Vaquero album is a rich collection of cowboy poetry. Every verse touches two or more senses. The best songs clip the soul. The Texan is a rambler, a lover, thinker, statement-maker and romantic on this dynamic mix of pure country themes. Through it all is a thread that’s so rare in today’s country music. There is no justice in country music if “They Don’t Make Em Like They Used To” isn’t a hit somewhere in 2017.