The 100 Greatest Albums of the Decade, Part 7: #40-#31

The 100 Greatest Albums of the Decade, Part 7

40 Tim

#40
Tim McGraw, Live Like You Were Dying

The title track looks forward, pondering what to do with the scarcity of time left, but the best of the rest of these tracks look backward, sometimes with sadness (“My Old Friend”), sometimes with humor (“Back When”), and often with both (“Open Season on My Heart”, “Can’t Tell Me Nothin’.”) – Kevin Coyne

Recommended Tracks: “My Old Friend”, “Old Town New”, “Open Season On My Heart”

39 Ashley

#39
Ashley Monroe,  Satisfied

At just nineteen years old, Ashley Monroe has made an album with content comparatively mature, both in lyrics and production, to most other albums on this list. With a voice naturally tinged with both twang and sophistication, Monroe sings of loss, relational strife and even regret and sorrow with acute adeptness. While many of the compositions are sonically and topically subdued, she is not incapable of letting loose on certain numbers such as Kasey Chambers’ “Pony”, which includes a mean yodel, and a delightful duet with Dwight Yoakam, “That’s Why We Call Each Other Baby.” – Leeann Ward

Recommended Tracks: “Pony”, “Satisfied”, “Hank’s Cadillac”

38 Dolly

#38
Dolly Parton, Little Sparrow

She got her groove back with The Grass Is Blue, but Parton’s career revival truly peaked when she revisited her mountain roots on this classic album. She won a Grammy for her treatment of the Collective Soul hit “Shine”, and she wrote new songs like the title track, which ranks among her best work. She even revisited her finest pre-”Coat of Many Colors” composition, “Down From Dover”, restoring the verse that Porter Wagoner had forced her to edit out for the sake of brevity. – KC

Recommended Tracks: “Little Sparrow”, “Shine”, “Down From Dover”

37 Carrie

#37
Carrie Underwood, Some Hearts

Six months after taking the American Idol crown, Underwood unapologetically introduced herself as a polished country-pop artist via Some Hearts. With explosive hits like “Before He Cheats” at the helm, the album became the best-selling debut by a solo female country artist, making it easy to overlook that it is as genuine as it is commercially viable. It’s an album that fits Underwood like a glove, bottling a unique combination of naivety and perceptiveness, sass and charm, bombast and reservation – the kinds of paradoxes that have come to define her as an artist and as a person. And while the material is standard country-pop, to be sure, we’re reminded by Underwood’s compelling, crystalline performances that standard material can be made to be just as memorable as anything else. – Tara Seetharam

Recommended Tracks: “Wasted”, “Jesus, Take The Wheel”, “The Night Before (Life Goes On)”

36 Tim Darrell

#36
Tim O’Brien and Darrell Scott, Real Time

In which two modern virtuosos sit in a living room and pluck out an acoustic album to match any before or since. The playing is exemplary, the songwriting deeply inspired, and the country-folk-bluegrass sound ageless. – Dan Milliken

Recommended Tracks: “Walk Beside Me”, “There Ain’t No Easy Way”, “Long Time Gone”

35 O Brother

#35
Soundtrack, O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Sometimes an album’s perceived quality becomes inextricable from its legend. Such is the case with the soundtrack to the Coen Brothers’ modern-day Odyssey, one of the bestselling country sets of the decade and a landmark in the genre’s history for its regeneration of mainstream interest in roots music. In essence, it’s really just a bunch of old-time covers done in exceptionally convincing old-time form. Whether that’s enough to put it among the decade’s finest country albums is up for debate – but there’s no denying it’s among the most essential. – DM

Recommended Tracks: “I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow”, “Didn’t Leave Nobody But the Baby”, “O Death”

34 Buddy Julie

#34
Buddy and Julie Miller, Written in Chalk

Americana’s favorite couple outdo themselves on one of this year’s most revelatory albums, a tour de force of down-home soul and raw depth. The Millers excel at finding just the right sound to express the sentiments of their material, scoring randy lovemakin’ (“Gasoline And Matches”) and quiet grief (“Don’t Say Goodbye”) with equal aplomb. – DM

Recommended Tracks: “One Part, Two Part”, “Chalk”, “Everytime We Say Goodbye”

sleepless nights

#33
Patty Loveless, Sleepless Nights

The last decade has seen numerous well executed traditional covers albums, but none of higher quality than Patty Loveless’ tribute to tradition, Sleepless Nights. Loveless culls songs from various places, including compositions mostly previously attributed to male singers, to create an album that solidly stands as a cohesive unit. Due to Loveless’ naturally distinctive twang and her producer husband’s (Emory Gordy, Jr.) tasteful arrangements (prominent bass, light percussion and steel guitar), Sleepless Nights does well at staying authentic while still sounding progressive enough to warrant yet another covers project. – LW

Recommended Tracks: “Pain of Loving You”, “Sleepless Nights”, “Cold Cold Heart”

32 Justin

#32
Justin Townes Earle, Midnight at the Movies

While The Good Life gained considerably more attention among traditional country audiences than Midnight at the Movies, with Justin Townes Earle’s follow-up, we are presented with his first fully mature album. Nominated for an Americana Music Award for Album of the Year, Midnight at the Movies delivers a voice fallen far from the rough gravel of Earle’s father, Steve Earle, but with gleaming jewels of writing equal to some of his father’s best work. – William Ward

Recommended Tracks: “They Killed John Henry”, “Mama’s Eyes”, “Black Eyed Suzy”

31 Keith

#31
Keith Urban, Golden Road

Urban’s second solo album is an exuberant, original piece of work that solidified his place as one of the genre’s most gifted and charismatic male artists. The album showcases both his fine musicianship and intuitive sense of balance, as the material embraces exhilaration without feeling frivolous, and sentimentality without feeling melodramatic. Much like his other albums, it’s hard to classify Urban’s style on Golden Road, with its intermixed elements of rock, pop and traditional country – but who the heck cares when it’s this good? – TS

Recommended Tracks: “Who Wouldn’t Wanna Be Me”, “You’ll Think Of Me”, “Raining On Sunday”

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11 Comments

Filed under Decade in Review

11 Responses to The 100 Greatest Albums of the Decade, Part 7: #40-#31

  1. JoJoNo Gravatar

    Lots of awesome albums above! Really like the recommended tracks for Some Hearts and Golden Road. My Old Friend is a great song too off Tim’s album! Really liking the list…can’t wait for greatest singles of decade!! Hoping to see “Three Wooden Crosses,” “Whiskey Lullaby” and “Just A Dream” near the top!! You all do great work on this site! I especially like these countdowns/lists you do here!

  2. BobNo Gravatar

    While I’m not a big Tim McGraw fan, I am very surprised to see “Live Like You Were Dying” so soon. I thought it would be in the top 10 and at worst top 20. My favorite track is “Blank Sheet of Paper” by the Warren Brothers and Don Schlitz.

  3. Cory DeSteinNo Gravatar

    I would comment but I have only spent my money on the Patty Loveless album, which I found alright.

  4. Pingback: Country Music Hall Includes Contemporary Artists; Carrie Underwood Variety Show Tonight; Do Grammys Get Bluegrass? | The 9513

  5. Steve from BostonNo Gravatar

    Quoting Leeann#33
    Patty Loveless, Sleepless Nights

    The last decade has seen numerous well executed traditional covers albums, but none of higher quality than Patty Loveless’ tribute to tradition, Sleepless Nights. Loveless culls songs from various places, including compositions mostly previously attributed to male singers, to create an album that solidly stands as a cohesive unit. Due to Loveless’ naturally distinctive twang and her producer husband’s (Emory Gordy, Jr.) tasteful arrangements (prominent bass, light percussion and steel guitar), Sleepless Nights does well at staying authentic while still sounding progressive enough to warrant yet another covers project. – LW

    Recommended Tracks: “Pain of Loving You”, “Sleepless Nights”, “Cold Cold Heart”

    VERY well stated and perfectly encapsulated, Leeann. My standout recommended tracks would have differed a little and would have included “Crazy Arms”, “Why Baby Why” and the “Pain of Loving You”.

    SN should have ranked higher, but the planel has spoken.

  6. SN should have ranked higher, but the planel has spoken.

    I would have rated both Sleepless Nights and Little Sparrow much higher and the Ashley Monroe album slightly higher. Overall, this is mostly a good collection of albums in this installment.

  7. Paul DennisNo Gravatar

    I have six of this group of ten (41 of 70). I have not heard the Ashley Monroe album (except for two tracks on promo CDs) so she really wasn’t on my radar (until a few months ago I hadn’t downloaded at all, and I still think that a list of this sort should be comprised of albums available in some sort of physical form). That said, Ms Monroe has talent and her music should be more generally available

  8. ZackNo Gravatar

    Interesting list. Surprised Some Hearts is ranked so high. Oh well, it was a solid debut from Underwood anyways.

    I just felt it was an album of songs, not an ALBUM, per say. You know what I’m talking about?

  9. JosephNo Gravatar

    I love several of these albums. Glad to see Ashley Monroe’s on the list. Love her voice

  10. Cory DeSteinNo Gravatar

    I keep seeing Keith Urban on these lists, are you guys saying I should let his songs finish on the radio? Not immediatly turn the dial? Possibly buy a album?

  11. PatrickNo Gravatar

    Why wasn’t O Brother Where Art Thou? ranked higher?

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