Top 10 Best Country Albums of 2015
It’s nearly the end of the year now (already?!) and that means it’s time to recount some of the best albums to grace our playlists in 2015. This is by no means a definitive list and it’s in no particular order, but here were some of the records we were jamming to during the past 12 months.
Chris Young ‘I’m Comin’ Over’
It was only released on November 13 but it’s already become a hit with fans, selling 57,000 copies in its first week and producing a #1 hit in the form of the title track. Featuring tracks with Cassadee Pope and Vince Gill, it’s Chris at his best, with those rich vocals applied to a variety of country, pop country and even R&B-flavoured songs. No second single announced just yet, but expect the duet with Ms Pope, ‘Think of You’, to be a major contender.
Tim McGraw ‘Damn Country Music’
Also only released recently, this time on November 6, ‘Damn Country Music’ finds Tim producing another collection of really solid – you guessed it – damn country music. From the R&B beat of lead single ‘Top of The World’ (top 10 hit) to the heartfelt pure country of ‘Humble And Kind’, this set also features duets with his daughter Gracie McGraw and Big & Rich. Sure to be a fan favourite for years to come.
Kacey Musgraves ‘Pageant Material’
Kacey is well-loved around the world, so it was hardly a surprise when her sophomore album ‘Pageant Material’ was a big hit with fans from June 23. Steeped in the polished Nashville Sound of the 1950s and 1960s, it further solidified her “be who you want to be” attitude and also featured a surprise collaboration with Willie Nelson on his 1965 track ‘Are You Sure’. She recently completed a sold out UK and European tour including a show at the Royal Albert Hall, and continues to be successful despite minimal radio support in the US.
Striking Matches ‘Nothing But The Silence’
Striking Matches may not really have broken through in the US, but they are well-loved in the UK for their incredible live performances and amazing guitar skills. Their debut album ‘Nothing But The Silence’ was produced by the legendary T-Bone Burnett and hit stores on March 23, following two years of successful trips to the UK. It features fan favourites such as ‘Trouble Is As Trouble Does’, ‘Make A Liar Out of Me’, and ‘When The Right One Comes Along’.
Ashley Monroe ‘The Blade’
Ashley Monroe returned on July 24 with her critically acclaimed third album ‘The Blade’, after ‘Like A Rose’ really put her on the map for her traditional country style. The new record, once again written and recorded with Vince Gill and Justin Niebank, explored a more commercial and groove-ridden style than previously, but it still featured some instant country classics. Lead single was ‘On To Something Good’.
Alan Jackson ‘Angels & Alcohol’
In the past three years Alan Jackson has been busy recording blugrass and gospel albums, but on July 17 he came back to country music with the wonderful ‘Angels & Alcohol’. The 10-track collection saw him back doing his well-loved traditional style, with seven solo writes of his own including the clever lead single ‘Jim and Jack and Hank’.
Luke Bryan ‘Kill The Lights’
Luke Bryan’s much-anticipated fifth studio album ‘Kill The Lights’ dropped on August 7, helmed by the #1 lead single ‘Kick The Dust Up’ and since then, the #1 hit ‘Strip It Down’. The record gave equal attention to bro-country and his more substance-filled roots, and features the new single ‘Home Alone Tonight’ alongside Karen Fairchild of Little Big Town. Watch out for this album to dominate the charts for the next two years.
Reba McEntire ‘Love Somebody’
Prior to 2015, Reba hadn’t released an album since 2010’s ‘All The Women I Am’ (having taken a break to do more television), so fans rejoiced when she released ‘Love Somebody’ on April 14 of this year. Despite having a rather commercial lead single ‘Going Out Like That’ this album was Reba at her very best, with heartfelt stories and an earthy country style (albeit updated for the 21st century).
Eric Church ‘Mr. Misunderstood’
Eric Church surprised literally everyone when he sent a brand new album to iTunes during the night of the CMA Awards on November 4. News of ‘Mr. Misunderstood’ had begun to spread through Twitter the previous day, as members of his fan club The Church Choir received copies of it in the mail without prior warning. Eric officially launched the record by playing the title track at the awards, and since then has gone on to sell in huge numbers every week. It feels like something of a side project, especially since it was spontaneously written and recorded within a month around September time, so we might even hear more music from Eric before too long. Still, this takes him back to his more acoustic-orientated roots, and the songs are truly inspired.
Chris Stapleton ‘Traveller’
Chris Stapleton’s debut solo album ‘Traveller’ originally hit stores on May 5 to modest sales despite high critical praise. Radio near enough ignored the mix of soul, blues, outlaw country and rock he offered up, until he was nominated for three CMA Awards (including Album of the Year). He later won all three and gave an amazing performance alongside Justin Timberlake that caused his sales and airplay to explode overnight. He sold 150,000 copies of the record in just 28 hours (impressive given it had only sold 92,000 in six months), and at least half of the album tracks charted on Billboard. He now has a top 30 and rising single on country radio, and the album is likely to top most year-end lists. It’s great to see such a talent finally being recognised.