Rejoice, you music-starved wretches and wretchettes. A tidal wave of timeless tunery is already rolling your way. And there's no end in sight. Skeptical? Then read on.
Brett Eldredge, Bring You Back
Aug. 6, Atlantic
Acting on an instinct that's invariably betrayed me, I predicted Eldredge's 2010 debut single, "Raymond," would catapult him instantly to stardom. The song's story of an old woman who's gently slipping away from her mind and mistaking the nursing home janitor for her dead son was so sweetly heartbreaking, I forgot for the moment that heartbreak wasn't selling that season. But now there's renewed hope. "Raymond" returns in Bring You Back, which also features Eldredge's current (and far more successful) single "Don't Ya." The artist, who -- trivia alert is a cousin of The Grascals' formidable vocalist, Terry Eldredge, co-wrote 11 of the album's 12 selections.
Luke Bryan, Crash My Party
Aug. 13, Capitol
What can you say about Bryan that won't propel you into a fist fight or a wet T-shirt contest? In truth, the photogenic beachcomber has always been more than just a spring break kind of guy, although, heaven knows, he's done plenty to cultivate that image. Without being more specific, Bryan says that in this new album fans will "get to hear a little bit deeper, different side of me musically." And who wouldn't want that?
Carrie Underwood, The Blown Away Tour Live DVD
Aug. 13, 19 Recordings/Arista
Filmed at a concert in Ontario, Calif., there's a lot here to take in, not the least of which is nearly 100 minutes of live performances spotlighting such blockbusters as "Before He Cheats," "Jesus, Take the Wheel," "Two Black Cadillacs" and, of course, "Blown Away." Also appended are backstage glimpses with Underwood and her tour director, Raj Kapoor, the guy who masterminded all those mesmerizing stage effects. And there are music videos as well. The DVD is rendered in Dolby 5.1 and stereo, which is surely a selling point to someone.
Charlie Worsham, Rubberband
Aug. 20, Warner Bros
Worsham spent time as a studio musician before being drawn into the spotlight, where he has shared the stage with Taylor Swift and Miranda Lambert, among others. He co-wrote all 11 songs on this debut album and teams up with Vince Gill and Marty Stuart on "Tools of the Trade." His first single is "Could It Be."
Ricky Skaggs and Bruce Hornsby, Cluck Ol' Hen
Aug. 20, Skaggs Family Records
This album is a recording of live performances Skaggs and Hornsby did while touring to support their first collaborative album, Ricky Skaggs & Bruce Hornsby (2007). Bluegrassers will feel especially elevated by Skaggs' torrential "How Mountain Girls Can Love" and "Toy Heart," but Hornsby devotees will find plenty to shout about, too, when the piano man takes his turn. The cover picture of Bill Monroe standing in a chicken pen and picking his mandolin, while a white limousine crouches in the background, is reason enough to buy the album.
Craig Morgan, The Journey (Livin' Hits)
Sept. 3, Black River
Here we have four new songs and eight rerecorded hits from one of country music's most distinctive vocal stylists. Once again, Morgan relies on co-producer Phil O'Donnell to achieve just the right emotional pitch. Apart from the new single, "Wake Up Lovin' You," there are such old reliables as "Redneck Yacht Club," "That's What I Love About Sunday," "Tough" and the incomparably mournful "Almost Home." It made me almost as weepy as "Raymond."
Keith Urban, Fuse
Sept. 10, Capitol
Urban has characterized this as a "diverse" album, explaining he has enlisted for it the talents of such musical visionaries as Dann Huff, Nathan Chapman, Butch Walker, Mike Elizondo, Jay Joyce and Zach Crowell. "I love working with people who play lots of instruments," Urban enthuses. Fuse was recorded in Nashville and Los Angeles.
Sheryl Crow, Feels Like Home
Sept. 10, Warner Bros
Paced by her lead single "Easy," Crow plunges headlong here into the country format, which is by no means strange territory for her. Each track on the album is a co-write, one of them with Brad Paisley.
George Jones, Amazing Grace
Sept. 10, Bandit
Except for "Great Judgment Morning," done in 1994, all the songs in this gospel collection were recorded in 2002 under the baton of Billy Sherrill. It was the last time the two legends would work together. "Great Judgment Morning" was produced by Brian Ahern and boasts backing vocals from Waylon Jennings, Travis Tritt, Marty Stuart, Connie Smith, Jessi Colter and Ricky Skaggs.
Billy Currington, We Are Tonight
Sept. 17, Mercury
This is Currington's first new music in three years and was jointly produced by Carson Chamberlain, Dann Huff and Shy Carter. Currington's pairing with Willie Nelson on "Hard to Be a Hippie" sounds particularly enticing. Currington's lead single from the album is the recently debuted "Hey Girl."
Chris Young, A.M.
Sept. 17, RCA
Young claims writing credits on six of this album's 11 songs, one of them being his current single, "Aw Naw." Hit songwriter Rhett Akins has a couple of cuts here, as well. Young's fourth studio album presents a pleasing and balanced blend of the rowdy and the romantic. Young has no doubt added to his fan base this summer by opening shows for Brad Paisley.
Justin Moore, Off the Beaten Path
Sept. 17, Valory Music Co.
Moore goes all out in this, his third album, tapping Miranda Lambert and Charlie Daniels as singing partners on a couple of tracks. In keeping with his growing appeal and chart prominence, he's snagged songs from some of the biggest names in the business, among them the Warren brothers, Rodney Clawson, David Lee Murphy, Ben Hayslip and Rhett Akins. The standard edition of the album contains 11 cuts, although the deluxe version features 16, including the cheeky "Big Ass Headache."
Alan Jackson, The Bluegrass Album
Sept. 24, Alan's Country Records/EMI Nashville
Bluegrass critics -- never an easy audience -- are already giving Jackson a thumbs-up on this one. It's a collection of Jackson originals and bluegrass standards (including Bill Monroe's canonical "Blue Moon of Kentucky") and features a backup band of such down-home luminaries as Rob Ickes, Sammy Shelor, Adam Steffey, Ronnie Bowman and Don Rigsby. Sounds sublime!
Cassadee Pope, Frame by Frame
Oct. 8, Republic Nashville
Herein The Voice winner segues from pop music to country. She says the album will be threaded with songs she's written about cheating and being cheated on -- and about the emotions of having had an absentee father and then happily reuniting with him.
Tyler Farr, Redneck Crazy
Oct. 15, Columbia
Trained as a classical vocalist but tempered in country music via long stints singing at Nashville's Tootsie's Orchid Lounge and touring with country rapper Colt Ford, Farr vows his debut album will be a "take anywhere" package. "I can take this one to a barn party on a back road and have everybody rock out, and at the same time kids can enjoy it and dance to it," he said. "And I could play it for my grandma."
Jennifer Nettles, TBA
The title and release date are still undetermined, but to no one's great surprise, Sugarland's lead singer is hoofing it solo for a spell, venturing into her first album with studio Svengali Rick Rubin (he of Johnny Cash and Dixie Chicks notoriety). In the five tracks she's previewed for the media, Nettles proclaimed and demonstrated her roots in, as she describes it, "country, gospel, '70s music and singer-songwriter stuff." Her first single from the album -- "That Girl" -- will be out Aug. 19. She wrote it with Atlanta musician Butch Walker and describes it as kind of a response song to Dolly Parton's "Jolene." It's about time we heard from the other side.