Country music is entering a new decade with new and notable releases from country legends, today’s stars, and some of CMT’s Next Women of Country. Here are 10 albums to look for in 2020.
Tenille Arts, Love, Heartbreak, & Everything (January 10)
Although she’s approached the Top 40 at country radio in the U.S. with “I Hate This,” and made inroads in her native Canada with “What He’s Into” and “Mad Crazy Love,” Tenille Arts probably found her biggest audience by singing multiple times on The Bachelor. (She’ll make her third appearance on January 6, just a few days after returning to the Grand Ole Opry.) Her newest video, “Tears,” was shot in Mammoth Lakes, California, and features actor Casey Deidrick (In the Dark, Driven).
Ronnie Dunn, Re-Dunn (January 10)
Ronnie Dunn made a very long list of songs he wanted to record for Re-Dunn, his upcoming covers album, then finally narrowed it down to a dozen country classics and another dozen rock radio staples. Dunn planted his roots in the Oklahoma honky-tonks well before skyrocketing to superstardom with Brooks & Dunn, so tracks like “Amarillo by Morning” and “That’s the Way Love Goes” suit his singing style perfectly. Brooks & Dunn were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2019.
Little Big Town, Nightfall (January 17)
One of the band’s most thoughtful projects, Nightfall is quieter than you’d expect — although if you were thinking that nightfall is when happy hour is, then skip ahead to the liberating breakup song, “Over Drinking.” But for much of the project, Karen Fairchild is wringing the emotions out of heavy topics like disillusionment, frustration, and keeping up appearances, with her bandmates sweeping in for musical and emotional support. As moody as it is, Nightfall shines because of their impeccable vocal blend.
Dustin Lynch, Tullahoma (January 17)
Named for his Tennessee hometown, Tullahoma is packed with songs that Dustin Lynch thinks country fans can identify with. (He should know. He had one of the decade’s biggest country hits with “Small Town Boy.”) If you’re looking for another “Cowboys and Angels,” the closest this Opry member comes to traditionalism is “Old Country Song,” which drifts between modern textures and a downhome vibe. However his calling card now is densely-produced radio singles like “Ridin’ Roads” and “Good Girl.”
Dwight Yoakam, Blame the Vain (Vinyl Edition) (January 17)
In the early 2000s, there wasn’t much demand for vinyl pressings, even for artists as innately cool as Dwight Yoakam. Now, New West Records is marking the 15th anniversary edition of Blame the Vain, his first album for that label and his first without producer Pete Anderson. To this day it remains a fan favorite and it’s getting its first-ever vinyl pressing this month. “Intentional Heartache” may be the catchiest song on here but the bizarre space-age introduction to “She’ll Remember” deserves a flashback, too.
Dierks Bentley, Riser (Vinyl Edition) (January 31)
Dierks Bentley’s album Riser is just five years old, but it’s also earning a vinyl edition for the first time. One of the most emotional sets in Bentley’s catalog, the project is impacted by the loss of his father and the birth of his son, as heard on the hit “I Hold On,” yet it’s probably most notable for “Drunk on a Plane.” Let the needle run all the way to the end for “Hurt Somebody,” a deep cut for Dierks’ die-hard fans. In addition to standard black, Riser is also being issued on translucent orange vinyl.
The Cadillac Three, Country Fuzz (February 7)
The Cadillac Three’s newest digital single from Country Fuzz is titled “Slow Rollin’,” which might also describe the way it feels for fans anticipating a follow-up to 2016’s Bury Me in My Boots and 2017’s LEGACY. Early singles like “Long After Last Call” and “Back Home” put the band’s cool country vibe front and center but they remain just as focused on Southern rock and fuzz. Known for their powerful live show, the band will play a few gigs in the U.S. before a European tour in the spring, carrying along crowd favorites like “The South,” “White Lightning,” and “Drunk Like You.”
Aubrie Sellers, Far From Home (February 7)
Aubrie Sellers possesses a pristine country voice but she’s never shed her love for garage rock. It’s hard to predict where she’ll head on Far From Home, her first album in four years. Recorded at Sonic Ranch in El Paso, Texas, the project has already spawned four digital singles, the best of these being the lonesome title track. (Her plaintive singing is startlingly similar to that of her mother, Lee Ann Womack.) Look for Sellers on select shows this spring on CMT’s Next Women of Country Tour with Tanya Tucker.
Hank Williams, Pictures From Life’s Other Side — The Man and His Music in Rare Photos and Recordings (February 7)
For scholars and fans of Hank Williams, this six-disc box set is a magnificent collection, complemented by a book of rare photos and historical insight about the live recordings included here. These 144 performances were pulled from a discovered collection of recorded broadcasts from a weekday radio show Williams started hosting in 1951. Along with classics such as “Lovesick Blues,” “I Saw the Light,” “Cold Cold Heart,” and “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” these restored recordings represent the only known versions of dozens of Hank Williams performances.
Carly Pearce, Carly Pearce (February 14)
With her self-titled sophomore album, Carly Pearce hopes to build on the breakout success of her 2017 platinum debut single, “Every Little Thing.” She’s currently making an impact with “I Hope You’re Happy Now,” a breezy breakup duet she co-wrote with Luke Combs and recorded with Lee Brice. Another early track, “It Won’t Always Be Like This” is a wistful look at years gone by. Along with new husband Michael Ray, she’ll kick off the year with a January 18 performance at the Opry, where she’s a regular.