If there is a sign of the times, it appears in 2016 that country music with lyrical meaning took hold of the reigns of some of the top album releases. There were fewer party songs and more songs that reflected on what is happening in modern times. Here are our top picks of the best country music albums of 2016:
Sturgill Simpson – “A Sailor’s Guide to Earth”
By the end of 2016, any music fan would soon hear about the beauty in the sound and production of Sturgill Simpson’s album. The album itself was written and produced for Simpson’s toddler son. One of the top picked songs is “Brace For Impact,” which makes a profound statement that one should live their life the fullest. The sonic sounds from the sea filled the airwaves throughout the album. Nevertheless, the Grammy’s took notice and nominated it for overall album of the year for their 2017 awards. Read about his homecoming performance at the Lexington Opera House.
Blackberry Smoke – “Like An Arrow”
Blackberry Smoke seems to appear on my list every year, frankly because anything they release is that good. It easily translates into their energetic live performance that many Kentuckians have come to enjoy over the years. “Like An Arrow” has made an impact on the charts both in the US and overseas markets. They define their own southern soulful rock sound with their latest release. Top songs include “Waiting for the Thunder” and “The Good Life.”
The Steel Woods – Self Titled
Be sure to take note of the name, The Steel Woods. They are also on our list of Ones to Watch in 2017. The talented songwriting and singing from the duo has really taken notice. Others are soon noticing the talent as they have been recently booked to open up for Blackberry Smoke. They also performed at Kid Rock’s Fish Fry in Nashville this fall. Top song picks on the album include “Let the Rain Come Down” and “Axe.” Read our full review & interview here.
Justin Wells – “Dawn in the Distance”
One of the most hardworking souls out on the road has to be Justin Wells. With his first solo release, “Dawn in the Distance,” Justin received outstanding support from friends and music fans through his Kickstarter campaign. “The Dogs” showcasing what really happens while struggling on the road. Other top picks include “Going Down Grinnin’” and the haunting “So Far Away.”
Aubrie Sellers – “New City Blues”
Country music needs Aubrie Sellers and quite frankly, she provided quite a song selection with her debut album, “New City Blues.” She stood out on her own among all of the new female artists in 2016. It was hard to pick just a couple of top picks, as all of them are well produced. However, two of our top picks on the album include “Light of Day” and the fiery “Liar, Liar.”
Margo Price – “Midwest Farmer’s Daughter”
Jack White has a hankering for being able to pinpoint pure raw talent for his Third Man Records. That is definitely the case with the beautiful vocals from Margo Price. Perhaps one of the highlights of 2016 was when Margo Price performed on “Saturday Night Live,” as well as on Farm Aid. Top songs include “Tennessee Song” and “Four Years of Chances.”
Wynonna & The Big Noise – Self Titled
Wynonna has gone through a lot of things in her life, but with her self-titled album with her band, The Big Noise, it seems as though she is at peace with her life. Her soulful vocal prowess is in full force with each song. Top picks on the album include “Things That I Lean On” with Jason Isbell and “Keeps Me Alive.”
Jessica Blankenship is the owner and founder of Kentucky Country Music website with over 20 years experience in music journalism, concert planning, photography, and promotion. Jessica is a Kentucky Colonel and alumni of the 2019 Leadership Kentucky BRIGHT Class and a recipient of the Laurel County’s Ten Under 40 Award. Listen to her each week on WFKY on Friday mornings for the Nashville News Roundup.