Miranda Lambert, Lady Antebellum, the rising stars of American Idol and a host of other country artists will be releasing new albums over the next few months. Here are the upcoming projects we're eager to hear.
Lady Antebellum lead the parade with Own the Night, arriving Tuesday (Sept. 13). Prior to launching their fall headlining tour, they'll make their long-awaited debut on Saturday Night Live on Oct. 1. Band members Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott and Dave Haywood co-wrote eight of the album's 11 tracks and co-produced the project with Paul Worley. It's the follow-up to their Grammy-winning smash, Need You Now.
Two very different country artists, Steve Holy and Brantley Gilbert, will also offer new music on Sept. 13. Holy's Love Don't Run features the romantic title track. It's his first release in five years. Meanwhile, Gilbert's Halfway to Heaven Deluxe is an extended, remixed and remastered version of his 2010 album which blends his country and Southern rock influences. His lead single, "Country Must Be Country Wide," draws on his broad fan base for inspiration.
LeAnn Rimes first caught our attention as a child, but now she's clearly all grown up. That mature perspective may be part of the reason she titled her album Lady and Gentlemen, due Sept. 27. The latter part of the title, though, is because nearly all of the tracks are country classics originally made famous by men. She also reworked her first single, "Blue," and added two bonus tracks ("Crazy Women" and "Give") to the project.
Blake Shelton, Zac Brown and Big & Rich are shuffled on the soundtrack to Footloose, in stores on Sept. 27. Shelton sings the title track while Brown offers "Where the River Goes." Gretchen Wilson lends a guest vocal on Big & Rich's "Fake I.D." Survivor cast member Whitney Duncan and One Tree Hill actress Jana Kramer take part, as well.
The most anticipated release on Oct. 4 may be American Idol winner Scotty McCreery's Clear as Day. Produced by Mark Bright, the album includes "I Love You This Big" and "The Trouble With Girls." Meanwhile, Idol runner-up Lauren Alaina's first major label release, Wildflower, arrives on Oct. 11. Produced by Byron Gallimore, her album includes "Like My Mother Does" and "She's a Wildflower."
Rodney Atkins and Montgomery Gentry are no strangers to country radio. And they're back with a batch of new songs on Oct. 4. Atkins' Take a Back Road boasts the hit title track, along with a bonus track of "Farmer's Daughter." Meanwhile, the crowd-pleasing duo return with Rebels on the Run, produced by Michael Knox, who also works with Jason Aldean. Listen for the duo's lead single, "Where I Come From."
Also on Oct. 4, traditional country fans will want to keep an eye out for Merle Haggard's Working in Tennessee, featuring new material and a collaboration with his son, Ben, and Willie Nelson on "Working Man Blues." Haggard also appears on The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams, a unique project that sets Williams' previously-unrecorded lyrics to music. Rodney Crowell, Vince Gill, Alan Jackson and Patty Loveless are among the country artists taking part in the project.
Martina McBride co-wrote six of the 11 songs on her 11th album, titled Eleven, which is due ... wait for it ... Oct. 11! She's country music's most-played female artist of the last 11 years, according to Nielsen-BDS and Mediabase. Also on Oct. 11, Johnny Cash's Bootleg Vol. 3 -- Live Around the World compiles 50 performances from 1956 to 1979, including 39 that have been previously unreleased. New artist Hunter Hayes, who's breaking through with "Storm Warning," will release his self-titled debut album that day, as well.
Vince Gill and Toby Keith, who continue to make their native Oklahoma proud, will release new albums on Oct. 25. Gill recorded Guitar Slinger entirely in his home studio and wrote the first single, "Threaten Me With Heaven," with wife Amy Grant and late friend Will Owsley. Meanwhile, Keith named his album Clancey's Tavern in honor of his grandmother's bar. The lead single, which Keith wrote, is "Made in America."
As November arrives, Miranda Lambert's fans will have a lot to be thankful for. That's because her fourth album, Four the Record, arrives on the first day of the month. She's already checked in with "Baggage Claim," and it's likely that she's packed it for the long haul. The anticipation is strong. Last year, she claimed CMA Awards for music video ("The House That Built Me"), album (Revolution) and female vocalist.
Other notable upcoming releases include the Dirt Drifters' This Is My Blood, Mason Jennings' Minnesota and Reckless Kelly's Good Luck and True Love (all Sept. 13); the Jayhawks' Mockingbird Time (Sept. 20); Will Hoge's Seven (Sept. 27); Jason Boland & the Stragglers' Rancho Alto (Oct. 4); Joey & Rory's A Farmhouse Christmas (Oct. 11); Chris Isaak's Beyond the Sun, the Kentucky Headhunters' Dixie Lullabies and Shelby Lynne's Revelation Road (all Oct. 18); and This One's for Him: A Tribute to Guy Clark (Nov. 8).