Fall Album Preview: New Music and Lots of Hits

Alan Jackson, Tim McGraw, Brad Paisley, Blake Shelton Offer Career Compilations

Whether you’re new to country music or grew up listening to the classics, there’s likely a country album coming out this fall to satisfy your musical tastes.

For example, fans can expect all-new projects by Jason Aldean, Reba McEntire, Rascal Flatts and Keith Urban, while longtime favorites like Alan Jackson, Tim McGraw, Brad Paisley and Blake Shelton are represented with worthy compilations.

Aldean’s My Kinda Party (due Nov. 2) packs 15 new tracks, including a dramatic duet with Kelly Clarkson. In addition, he proudly bares his rap influences on “Dirt Road Anthem,” co-written by Brantley Gilbert and Colt Ford. He’s scheduled to perform at Irving Plaza in New York City on release day, followed by a handful of dates in Alabama and his native Georgia.

McEntire completed a new album while touring extensively with George Strait this year. All the Women I Am (due Nov. 9) features her current hit, “Turn On the Radio,” as well as a cover of Beyoncé’s “If I Were a Boy.” McEntire wrote one of the tracks, “Somebody’s Chelsea,” with noted contributors Liz Hengber (“And Still”) and Will Robinson (“I Know How He Feels”).

Rascal Flatts begin a new phase of their career with a different record label, Big Machine, and a new album, Nothing Like This (due Nov. 16). The album’s first single, “Why Wait,” kicks off the 11-song project. Rascal Flatts will resume their Nothing Like This tour in 2011 with guests Luke Bryan and Chris Young. The group played for 650,000 fans in 2010, their 10th anniversary.

Urban’s Get Closer (due Nov. 16) hits the ground running with its first single, “Put You in a Song.” He co-produced the album with longtime collaborator Dann Huff. They recorded the project with several new guitars after Urban lost many of his favorite instruments in the Nashville flooding in May. An exclusive version at Target stores adds three studio tracks and four live recordings.

Academy Award-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow filmed Country Strong in Nashville, and its soundtrack (released Tuesday, Oct. 26) offers a promising batch of new recordings by Trace Adkins, Ronnie Dunn, Sara Evans, Faith Hill, Hank Williams Jr. and Lee Ann Womack. Paltrow also tackles the title track and a duet with Tim McGraw, who portrays the husband and manager of Paltrow’s character — an alcoholic, washed-up country singer. Supporting cast members Garrett Hedlund and Leighton Meester contribute on the soundtrack, too.

A beloved Country Music Hall of Fame member receives an all-star salute with Coal Miner’s Daughter: A Tribute to Loretta Lynn (due Nov. 9). The legend handpicked the talent, thus gathering Faith Hill, Alan Jackson, Miranda Lambert, Martina McBride, Reba McEntire, Carrie Underwood, Gretchen Wilson and Lee Ann Womack. Meanwhile, rock fans might be curious to hear how Kid Rock, Paramore and the White Stripes have interpreted her enduring catalog.

Alan Jackson’s 34 Number Ones (due Nov. 23) collects all his chart-toppers, a rare cover of Johnny Cash‘s “Ring of Fire” and his wise duet with the Zac Brown Band, “As She’s Walking Away.” In addition, Tim McGraw’s Number 1 Hits (due Nov. 30) spreads 22 successful singles across two discs, rounded out with the dance remix of “Indian Outlaw” and a new track, “Felt Good on My Lips.”

Brad Paisley’s Hits Alive (due Nov. 2) fills one side of the double album with his most popular singles, including “Anything Like Me,” while the flip side offers 11 previously-unreleased concert recordings from his tour. Finally, Loaded: The Best of Blake Shelton (due Nov. 9) marks the first collection of crowd favorites stretching from 2001′s “Austin” to his latest single, “Who You Are When I’m Not Looking.”

The Essential Dixie Chicks (released Tuesday) collects 30 songs from their four Grammy-winning albums. Meanwhile, The Essential Highwaymen (released Tuesday) gathers 38 songs from the overlapping catalogs of Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson, including lesser-known duets, songwriting homages and key tracks from all three albums they recorded as the Highwaymen.

On The Imus Ranch Record II (released Tuesday), Jamey Johnson reinterprets Meat Loaf’s staple, “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad,” as a country weeper while Hayes Carll stands tall with an agreeable rendition of Roger Miller‘s “King of the Road.”

Speaking of the King, an Elvis Presley-inspired Cirque du Soleil production has inspired Viva Elvis — The Album (due Nov. 9), which mixes his sensual voice with modern arrangements. Clearly, Elvis still hasn’t left the building.

Craig Shelburne has been writing for CMT.com since 2002. He is also a producer for CMT Edge, Concrete Country and Live @ CMT.