Photograph credit score: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Photographs

I’ve agonized how one can launch a function like this for a lot too lengthy now.

On condition that album opinions mainly operate as this album’s lifeblood, I’ve generally been requested why I don’t assessment older albums. Certain, time is at all times a difficulty – I can’t even sustain with the wave of present releases nowadays, not to mention previous ones – however the greater situation has at all times been, effectively, me. You see, my downside with approaching older works is that I really feel a have to canonize them inside both an artist’s discography or the style at giant. However I’ve realized over time that that’s a job for music historians – an necessary one, don’t get me unsuitable, particularly for preservation functions – and never for folks like me seeking to actively monitor their very own private likes and dislikes with music launched. There’s additionally the difficulty of it being a way more demanding and daunting studying course of in comparison with one the place I strategy trendy releases, provided that it’s laborious to flee conversations surrounding historic context with older releases. And discovering time not solely to take heed to that one previous album but additionally to look at it throughout the context of an artist’s total discography at giant – or throughout the context of the nation music style generally – effectively … once more, it’s daunting.

Nonetheless, I feel most individuals look to shops like this one for brand spanking new discoveries, and there’s simply as a lot worth to be present in digging up a gem from the previous but unheard as there’s something new. My unique intention with this function, then, was to choose previous albums at random to assessment, or assessment an artist’s discography so as from begin to end (form of like what the wonderful My Type of Nation as soon as did). However I’m unsure I’d cowl as a lot floor as I’d choose adopting that methodology for simply myself.

So, beginning subsequent week, I’m launching a assessment collection aimed toward older albums that takes just a little piece of each methodology I’ve thought of to this point. Finally, I’m choosing 10 albums from 5 totally different many years – from the ‘70s to the 2010s – with the one rule being that I can solely choose one launch per artist per decade, all of which … possibly aren’t thought of traditional releases, a lot as iconic ones. This is not going to, I repeat not, wind up as a compilation of “the 50 finest nation albums ever” or something like that when it’s finally completed. No, if something, my objective, very like with my Pop Goes the Nation collection from earlier than, will probably be to very loosely inform nation music’s story by means of these releases – the place it’s been and the place it’s going. That’s why I’ve tried to choose albums that symbolize the varied sounds we’ve come to affiliate with the style, all whereas ensuring they’re notable on their very own deserves, too.

These is not going to solely be historic examinations. Whereas historic context will, naturally, weigh in with these discussions, I’m going to stability them out with the identical analytical ideas for the albums themselves that characterize my opinions of contemporary works. In a way, I’ll offer my ideas on these albums not solely on their impression on the time of their respective releases, but additionally how effectively they’ve aged immediately, and solely from the attitude of my private style. And all of this goes with out saying, however this isn’t meant as a approach to shake up the discourse – I can’t affect an album’s legacy by speaking positively or negatively about it years or many years after the very fact, and I’m glad for that. Additionally, in case you’re questioning why I’m stopping on the ‘70s, it’s as a result of it, to me, symbolizes when nation music began to care extra in regards to the album idea at giant, even when there are, after all, nice albums that got here earlier than. A couple of final issues to bear in mind – there are a couple of releases, like, say, The Nitty Gritty Filth Band’s Will the Circle Be Unbroken, that I really feel operate higher as historic items slightly than albums meant to assessment within the context of simple listening functions, therefore why I may need ignored them in favor of one other album to highlight. After which there’s the difficulty relating to albums I even have lined right here earlier than which are arguably – or possibly undeniably – notable. Even when I feel sure opinions haven’t aged effectively, I’ve loosely lined albums like Gary Stewart’s Out of Hand, Loretta Lynn’s Van Lear Rose, Randy Travis’ Storms of Life, Alan Jackson’s Drive, and Jason Isbell’s Southeastern (amongst others) in some capability earlier than, making repeat discussions really feel redundant.

So, which 50 albums will I be masking? Discover out beneath:


  • Willie Nelson, Crimson Headed Stranger (1975)
  • Loretta Lynn, Coal Miner’s Daughter (1971)
  • Dolly Parton, Coat of Many Colours (1971)
  • Tom T. Corridor, In Search of a Tune (1971)
  • Waylon Jennings, Honky Tonk Heroes (1973)
  • Emmylou Harris, Items of the Sky (1975)
  • Tanya Tucker, TNT (1978)
  • Charlie Wealthy, Behind Closed Doorways (1973)
  • Kenny Rogers, The Gambler (1978)
  • Man Clark, Outdated No. 1 (1975)


  • Rosanne Money, Seven Yr Ache (1981)
  • George Jones, I Am What I Am (1980)
  • Merle Haggard, Again to the Barrooms (1980)
  • George Strait, Strait From the Coronary heart (1982)
  • The Judds, Why Not Me (1984)
  • Reba McEntire, My Type of Nation (1984)
  • Steve Earle, Guitar City (1986)
  • Dwight Yoakam, Buenas Noches From a Lonely Room (1988)
  • Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, and Emmylou Harris Trio (1987)
  • Clint Black, Killin’ Time (1989)


  • Garth Brooks, No Fences (1990)
  • Brooks & Dunn, Model New Man (1991)
  • Mary Chapin Carpenter, Come On Come On (1992)
  • Iris DeMent, Notorious Angel (1992)
  • Patty Loveless, When Fallen Angels Fly (1994)
  • Son Volt, Hint (1995)
  • Lucinda Williams, Automobile Wheels on a Gravel Street (1998)
  • Shania Twain, Come On Over (1997)
  • Marty Stuart, The Pilgrim (1999)
  • The Chicks, Fly (1999)


  • Patty Loveless, Mountain Soul (2001)
  • Rodney Crowell, The Houston Child (2001)
  • Brad Paisley, Mud on the Tires (2003)
  • Tim McGraw, Dwell Like You Have been Dying (2004)
  • Johnny Money, American IV: The Man Comes Round (2002)
  • The Chicks, Residence (2002)
  • Lee Ann Womack, There’s Extra The place That Got here From (2005)
  • Miranda Lambert, Loopy Ex-Girlfriend (2007)
  • Taylor Swift, Fearless (2008)
  • Jamey Johnson, That Lonesome Tune (2008)


  • Eric Church, Chief (2011)
  • Brandy Clark, 12 Tales (2013)
  • Turnpike Troubadours, Diamonds and Gasoline (2010)
  • Kacey Musgraves, Identical Trailer, Completely different Park (2013)
  • Sturgill Simpson, Metamodern Sounds in Nation Music (2014)
  • Chris Stapleton, Traveller (2015)
  • Lori McKenna, The Chicken & the Rifle (2016)
  • Miranda Lambert, The Weight of These Wings (2016)
  • Tyler Childers, Purgatory (2017)
  • Ashley McBryde, Woman Going Nowhere (2018)

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