The combined efforts of nine women and three men form the upper echelon of our Best Albums list from 1993. This embarrassment of riches showcases just how much great music there was to choose from that year, especially given how many of the genre’s biggest and most acclaimed stars – Vince Gill, Alan Jackson, Reba McEntire, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and Pam Tillis, just to name a few – were between albums that year.
It was also a strong and diverse enough year that despite some overall consensus among the lists of all of the writers, each one of us has a different album at #1 on our personal lists.
Enjoy the second half of our list, and look for the Singles list to kick off next weekend.
#1 – JK | #3 – SG
In jumping to a major label, Uncle Tupelo was supposed to give alt-country its Nirvana; though that didn’t happen, the critical acclaim and indie following that Anodyne earned served as an impetus for the nascent alt-country scene.
An album that’s both legitimately great and historically important in equal measure, Anodyne proved that alt-country was commercially viable as a refuge for artists and fans who felt at-odds with the increasingly slick mainstream country of the early 1990s. Borne of long-simmering conflicts between co-frontmen Jeff Tweedy and Jay Farrar, Anodyne is a sprawling and ambitious album that finds Uncle Tupelo at their most fully-realized as a band.
Drawing heavily from country-rock, folk, and traditional styles, it’s easy to hear the band’s lingering influence on both contemporary Americana and on modern country acts like Miranda Lambert and Eric Church. – Jonathan Keefe
Recommended Tracks: “Acuff-Rose,” “The Long Cut,” “Chickamunga”
Today, we kick off our Best of 1993 feature with the first part of our album retrospective. Included in this list are the debut albums of two underrated singer-songwriters, confident projects from the genre’s leading ladies, and highlights from legends of both the mainstream and alternative country landscapes.
When our writers wax rhapsodic about the glory days of the nineties, one reason why is that albums as great as this aren’t even among the top ten albums of the year.
Look for the conclusion of the albums list tomorrow and the singles list next weekend!
Lead Me Not
#9 – JK | #19 – KJC
Rather than establishing a clear identity for Lari White as an artist, Lead Me Not made for an eclectic debut, as White and producer Rodney Crowell explored styles ranging from traditional country and jazzy torch ballads to torrid Southern gospel and even Latin-flavored pop-country. What made the album such a compelling listen, then, were White’s wry POV as a songwriter and her powerhouse, note-perfect performances. Though Lead Me Not proved that Lari White would remain a difficult act to pigeonhole, it also established her as an artist of uncommon range and a singer of real depth and power. – Jonathan Keefe
Recommended Tracks: “Lead Me Not,” “What a Woman Wants,” “Don’t Leave Me Lonely,” “Good Good Love”
Back in the day, we used to do iPod checks. Seemed so current at the time!
Now, we’re gonna ask you to go to Spotify or your phone or whatever, and just let us know what you’re listening to the most.
Two Daily Top Fives Today: Your five most played songs from a 2015 album, and your most played country songs of all time.
Here are my lists, sticking to one song per artist:
“Girls on Bars”
Written by Luke Laird and Bret Michaels
I’m a few years too young to have taken Poison seriously.
Now, I always leaned more toward pop and country anyway, but I listened to the rock and the hip-hop of my day, too. So if I was five years older, I probably would’ve listened to Poison.
Written by McKenna Faith, Caleb Sherman, and Monique Staffile
You forgot to finish the song.
But I’ll still finish the review.
It’s gotten to the point that I can’t listen to more than two country singles in a row without wanting to hurt somebody.
So here’s the daily top five. What are some songs that are your palate cleansers, that you can always go back to when you need to wipe out the aftertaste of some really bad music?
Here’s my list:
- Alison Krauss & Union Station, “The Lucky One”
- Rosanne Cash with Johnny Cash, “September When it Comes”
- Kathy Mattea, “Where’ve You Been”
- Jason Isbell, “Elephant”
- Carrie Underwood with Vince Gill, “How Great Thou Art”
Written by Zach Crowell, Jerry Flowers, and Sam Hunt
I realize that Sam Hunt’s country music career might be little more than a stepping stone to filling one of those spinning chairs on The Voice.
But while this charade is going on, I suppose we need to take the music seriously.
“All Country on You”
Written by Mark Irwin, Josh Kear, and Chris Tompkins
So now it’s the second day of the month. What are your favorite second singles from albums or compilations?
I’ll pick different artists this time around:
- Patty Loveless, “Here I am”
- John Anderson, “Straight Tequila Night”
- Carlene Carter, “Come on Back”
- Lee Roy Parnell, “I’m Holdin’ My Own”
- Emerson Drive, “Moments”
“Drinkin’ Town with a Football Problem”
Written by Elizabeth Elkins, Aaron Henningsen, Brian Henningsen, Clara Henningsen, and Vanessa Olivarez
What a disappointing letdown from a totally intriguing title.
I was hoping for some incisive social commentary a la Amy Schumer’s “Football Town Nights.”