11 New Albums Coming in the New Year

Lauren Alaina, Brantley Gilbert, Natalie Hemby, Alison Krauss and More Release New Music in 2017

Delivering new albums is one resolution these country stars intend to keep in the New Year.

January releases include the first duets album from Ray Benson and Dale Watson, a full length debut from hit-maker Natalie Hemby, updated classics from Jeannie Seely, as well as soul-baring collections from American Idol alum Lauren Alaina and Brantley Gilbert.

February marks a month of firsts for Reba McEntire and Brett Young. McEntire’s inaugural faith-based collection Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope, and Young’s self-titled debut land on Feb. 3 and Feb. 10, respectively. Nashville rebel Nikki Lane and Grammy-winning band Little Big Town each hope to break new ground with their next albums, Highway Queen and The Breaker. Alison Krauss will also release her first solo album in 17 years.

On March 3, Brad Paisley will release his 11th studio album, Love and War.

Here is a preview of each album:

Ray Benson and Dale Watson, Dale & Ray

Say hello to your new favorite duo hailing from the fictitious metropolis of Bedsore, Texas. Benson is the front man for Asleep at the Wheel and Watson is a prolific Ameripolitan pioneer who has been releasing old-style honky tonk music since the ‘80s. Those who love classic country will dig their first duets album of eight new originals, plus covers of “Write Your Own Songs” from Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson’s 1982 duets album WWII and “I Wish You Knew” from the Louvin Brothers’ 1960 album My Baby’s Gone. The collection kicks off with “The Ballad of Dale and Ray,” a tribute to a few of their favorite things – pickin’, grinnin’, tokin’ and drinkin’. “Ray and I are kindred spirits,” Watson said. “We both love the same kind of music, and we are very comfortable working together — no egos — just what’s best for the song. When it’s like that, great songs and performances happen.” “We started talkin’ about this 10 years ago,” Benson said of the album. “Dale’s a Mogul. He’s the King of Ameripolitan. Mr. Chicken Shit Bingo. You just have to wait your turn. In my opinion, he is one of the great country singers. Singing with him makes me sing better, and our voices blend really well together. Our guitar playing styles compliment each other, and I feel we wrote some great songs together also.” Dale & Ray lands Jan. 6.

Natalie Hemby, Puxico

When Little Big Town hosted their No. 1 party for “Pontoon” at Nashville’s BMI headquarters, the company’s Jody Williams mentioned that the Music Row community was ready Hemby’s full length debut. That was in 2012, and “Pontoon” was the second of Hemby’s four No. 1s as a songwriter. Using some of the royalty money she earned from her first, Miranda Lambert’s “White Liar,” the Nashville native filmed an independent documentary about her second home, her grandfather’s hometown of Puxico, Missouri, and its annual homecoming celebration for U.S. veterans returning from their time in the service. The film’s soulful soundtrack is a touching tribute to living and loving in a small town and serves as her 10-song debut. “I always tell people,” she said, “I spent my 20s trying to get a record deal, my 30s writing for other people and now I’m putting out my own record and it feels really good.” Puxico arrives Jan. 13.

Jeannie Seely, Written In Song

She is Miss Country Soul, a beloved member of the Grand Ole Opry, a country icon and a Pennsylvania hit-maker well before Taylor Swift was born. Available Jan. 13, Seely’s latest album Written in Song features 14 updated timeless classics she has written and co-written for Merle Haggard, Ray Price, Ernest Tubb and Dottie West, the latter of whom initially convinced her to move to Nashville in the 1960s. At the time, Seely was working as a secretary with Liberty and Imperial Records in Hollywood before relocating to Music City in 1965. Connie Smith and Marty Stuart guest on “Senses,” which Willie Nelson recorded for 1970’s Laying My Burdens Down. Jessi Colter and Jan Howard appear on “We’re Still Hangin’ In There Ain’t We Jessi” and Kenny and Tess Sears are featured on “Leavin’ & Sayin’ Goodbye.” “It consists of 14 songs that I have written over the years,” Seely says of the album, “most of them recorded by my peers and my heroes. It’s also very rewarding to know that these songs have stood the test of time and are just as viable today. I am extremely grateful to the musicians and singers who made them sound brand new.”

Lauren Alaina, Road Less Traveled

Alaina’s sophomore album has the American Idol alum sharing the complexities of her life with sophistication and personality. She co-wrote all the material throughout the 12-song collection including the title track single, which was co-written with pop’s Meghan Trainor and hit-maker Jesse Frassure. California-based songwriter/producer busbee produced the album and co-wrote the collection’s openers “Doin’ Fine” and “My Kinda People.” Available Jan. 27, Road Less Traveled follows Alaina’s 2011 debut album Wildflower. She starts the CMT Next Women of Country Love Unleashed Tour 2017 with headliner Martina McBride on Feb. 2 in St. Louis. Tickets are available now.

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