I’ve never been a fan of country music. Not a fan of the voices, the cheesy lyrics, and the stereotypical “do you think my tractor’s sexy?” BS country music out there.
In my years of DJ’ing, I’ve had to DJ many weddings that requested country music for cocktail hours and dinner and even country dance songs.
Usually the dance songs are cheesy beyond belief to me – think Chattahoochee by Alan Jackson, Save a Horse Ride a Cowboy by Big & Rich – you get the idea.
But I’m here to tell you that in 2015, I liked country.
Not the crappy country that’s out there known as Bro Country – country music that’s been inspired by hip-hop, rock, and pop music.
Not the country of Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, Sam Hunt, Florida Georgia Line, Chase Bryant, Brantley Gilbert, Eric Church, or anyone who looks like the Nashville TV show character Luke Wheeler.
I’m talking about a new crop of country music.
Country music that isn’t sung by frat boys with jeans, t-shirts, and baseball caps.
This is country music the way it’s supposed to be. Talented musicians, talented vocalists, and thoughtful lyrics. The kind of country you’d hear performed in a dive bar in Nashville or a coffee shop in any city in the US. The kind of country you drink cheap whiskey to. The kind of country bad asses listen to. The kind of country I’d call sophisticated. The kind of country that isn’t written and performed to sell out arenas. The kind of country that means something.
My favorite albums of the year come from three talented musicians who turned me on to country in 2015:
Chris Stapleton – “Traveller”
I first learned about Stapleton while watching the CMAs earlier in the year. He brought the house down with an amazing show-stopping performance with Justin Timberlake. After watching that live, and then watching it a few more times on YouTube, I checked out his first album (and only … so far), Traveller.
I listened to that album on repeat for about 2 weeks straight. I couldn’t get enough of it. That album is solid gold with every track being a favorite. But the best track on the album is “Tennessee Whiskey.”
I think the reason I love this song so much is that it reminds me of the music I grew up listening to with my dad. My dad’s a huge Lynyrd Skynyrd, Allman Brothers, Marshall Tucker Band fan. And I think this song reminds me of slow, bluesy, Southern Rock.
Jason Isbell – “Something More Than Free”
After listening to Chris Stapleton, I started exploring other similar artists. Another great country artist I discovered this year is Jason Isbell. His album, Something More Than Free, is a great example of the way country music should be. Another solid album with great songs. Here’s an example of his wonderful voice:
This guy. The voice. Sturgill Simpson sounds like the bad-ass country of the 70s – mostly like Waylon Jennings. Holy shit this is good music.
So there you have it. My favorite albums I discovered in 2015 were all country.
2016 better have some more bad-ass country!