The new year promises new music by Americana favorites, powerhouse vocalists and some of country music’s top duos and icons.
Brothers Osborne’s “Shoot Me Straight” is the first taste of the highly anticipated follow-up to Pawn Shop. LOCASH’s “Don’t Get Better Than That” is the lead single from its forthcoming album. Sugarland’s Kristian Bush and Jennifer Nettles return with “Still the Same,” the Grammy-winning duo’s first release a forthcoming collection.
BJ Barham will premiere an all-new American Aquarium lineup on the band’s next album, Things Change. Kacey Musgraves’ Golden Hour is expected in early 2018. Carrie Underwood is recording music for her next album. And Loretta Lynn fans can look forward to the release of her new album, Wouldn’t It Be Great. The 13-song collection’s release was moved to 2018 following her stroke in May 2017.
Here is a comprehensive preview new albums arriving through February:
Encore by Anderson East (Jan. 12)
East brought the fire for the follow-up to his breakout album, Delilah. East wrote and co-wrote nine songs on his new 11-song collection including the super sexy lead single, “All On My Mind,” which was co-written with Ed Sheeran, Johnny McDaid and Aaron Raitiere. The collection includes East’s versions of “Sorry You’re Sick” by popular street performer Ted Hawkins and Willie Nelson’s “Somebody Pick Up the Pieces.” Encore was produced by Grammy winner Dave Cobb and recorded at Nashville’s historic RCA A studio. East will support the new music on his extensive Encore World Tour 2018, which launches Thursday (Jan. 11).
Walker McGuire EP by Walker McGuire (Jan. 12)
Walker McGuire’s Jordan Walker and Johnny McGuire are lucky to have found their forever creative partners within the first few days of moving to Nashville to pursue music. Walker was raised on Dan Seals and classic Keith Whitley in his native of Texas, while McGuire grew up listening to iconic lyricists Tom Petty and John Prine in Kansas City. The duo has built a loyal following performing their brand of modern country music for more than 300 dates a year. Their self-titled major label debut features five originals co-written with hitmakers Kristian Bush, Chris Dubois, Brent Anderson and Marc Beeson.
Hallelujah Nights by LANCO (Jan. 19)
The band’s 13-song debut features songs written and co-written by frontman Brian Lancaster. Described as “equal parts nostalgic and forward-thinking,” the music will explore universal themes of the human experience. The group’s breakout song “Greatest Love Story” is the first No. 1 hit from the upcoming collection. “We all go through more of the same experiences than we realize and songwriting is a process of observing those moments,” Lancaster says. “To me, this album is about glorifying the reality of life.” With roots in Tennessee, Kentucky and Georgia, the band is comprised of Lancaster, bassist Chandler Baldwin, multi-instrumentalist Jared Hampton, drummer Tripp Howell and lead guitarist Eric Steedly.
Dark Horse by Devin Dawson (Jan. 19)
Dawson’s music paints vivid pictures of heartbreak, falling in love, public displays of affection and more on his 12-song country debut, Dark Horse. Produced by Jay Joyce, the collection is bookended by his breakout hit “All On Me” and the soul-baring, autobiographical title song. The Orangevale, California native is among the artists in CMT’s “18 for 2018” Listen Up program.
Starfire by Caitlyn Smith (Jan. 19)
Followers of Smith’s career have been anxiously waiting for Starfire’s arrival. As one of Music Row’s most perceptive songwriters, Smith has co-written hits for others including Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers’ “You Can’t Make Old Friends” and the Meghan Trainor and John Legend smash “Like I’m Gonna Lose You.” But Starfire has Smith baring her soul and writing herself for herself. The music is all about growth and the courage it takes to achieve the honest and true incarnation of oneself.
Awake EP by Kalie Shorr (Jan. 25)
A member of the CMT Next Women of Country program, Shorr is one of the most articulate and socially aware country musicians to emerge in the latter half of the decade. Shorr is one of the founders of Nashville’s performance series, Song Suffragettes. Since its 2014 inception, the weekly all-female writers round has regular sellouts and has provided a platform for many rising artists including Kelsea Ballerini and others. Shorr’s Awake features the lead single “Two Hands” and follows 2017’s Slingshot EP and 2016’s Y2k Mixtape, the latter of which included her break out anthem “Fight Like a Girl.” The new music will be part of Shorr’s set when she and RaeLynn join the Next Women of Country Presents Sara Evans All the Love Tour. The 15-city run launches February 12 in New York City.
Here’s to You by Montgomery Gentry (Feb. 2)
Here’s to You features some of the last studio recordings of Eddie Montgomery together with his late duo partner Troy Gentry. Days before Gentry’s death in a helicopter crash, Montgomery Gentry was in the studio putting the finishing touches on the new album. Now, Montgomery has decided to tour the new music as a solo act under the Montgomery Gentry name. The first release from Here’s To You is “Better Me.” “It’s probably the best I’ve heard him sing,” Montgomery said of Gentry’s performance on the song.
Arkansas by John Oates (Feb. 2)
Oates’ love for roots music from the Delta shines through on his latest 11-song solo album. Originally inspired by the music the late blues legend Mississippi John Hurt, the collection grew to celebrate other styles and architects from the start of American popular music. Described as stylistically diverse and eclectic, the album features a full band that was meticulously arranged to bring to life the full flavors of classic American musical styles. “I really believe this is the most vital and satisfying solo project I’ve ever embarked upon,” Oates says of Arkansas. “Of all the music I have ever made with anyone, for me, this album sits right up there.”
Solid Ground by Wade Bowen (Feb. 9)
Bowen, one of Texas’ most insightful storytellers, returns with Solid Ground, a collection he hopes is remembered as a major contribution to music. Described as personal but not autobiographical, the album focuses more on legacy than living for the next Saturday night. The album follows Bowen’s Hold My Beer series with Randy Rogers and his gospel country collection, Then Sings My Soul: Songs for My Mother.
By the Way, I Forgive You by Brandi Carlile (Feb. 16)
Carlile, one of music’s most powerful vocalists, and her longtime bandmates, Phil and Tim Hanseroth, co-wrote all 10 songs on By the Way, I Forgive You. Co-produced by Dave Cobb and Shooter Jennings, the collection was recorded at Nashville’s historic RCA Studio A. Chris Powell (drums), Josh Neumann (cello), John Mark Painter (French horn), and the late Paul Buckmaster (string arrangements and conducting) provided additional instrumentation. The album art is an original painting by the Avett Brothers’ Scott Avett.