Best of 2007

Best Reissues and Compilations of 2007

December 31, 2007 // 7 Comments

  It’s no surprise that the catalog releases just keep getting better each year. Labels have learned that the best way to lift up their sagging bottom lines is to repackage their old material, and the trend of trying to fit as many hits as you can on one disc continues. Here are the ten best examples of labels doing right by their active artists and those of days gone by.   #10 Greatest Hits Crystal Gayle Crystal Gayle was not a one-hit wonder, though she may very well be considered one at this point of time. The 25-track Greatest Hits does a great job dispelling that perception, putting her mega-hit “Don’t it Make My Brown Eyes Blue” in its historical context, surrounded by all of Gayle’s other country-pop hits. Highlights include “Ready for the Times to Get Better”, “Half the Way” and the gorgeous Rodney Crowell classic, “‘Till I Read More

The Best Country Albums of 2007

December 24, 2007 // 8 Comments

  #15 Let it Go Tim McGraw Tim McGraw’s previous album, Live Like You Were Dying, topped my first year-end album list back in 2004. Let it Go strays from the musical formula that Dying perfected, with more challenging vocals attempted and off-beat material that ranges from introspective (“I’m Workin’”) to just plain dark (“Between the River and Me.”) It’s a sharp, confident album, and while it doesn’t reach the heights of its predecessor, it’s an interesting and entertaining listen.   #14 Raising Sand Robert Plant & Alison Krauss   This unexpected collaboration between Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant and bluegrass icon Alison Krauss finds common ground in the rockabilly roots that both artists share. T. Bone Burnett spearheaded this project, but don’t expect O Brother revisited. The sound here is fully contemporary, even when drawing on influences from generations gone by. The album closes with a beautiful reprise of Read More

The Fifty Best Singles of 2007, Part 5: #10-#1

December 21, 2007 // 14 Comments

When I did this list in 2006 and in 2004, I knew the number one song before I started. This year was more like 2005, where the song revealed itself to me as I was compiling the list. The top ten is filled with songs that I love, and I’ve had a chance to live with all of them. In the end, one did resonate just a bit more than the rest, the crowning jewel in a year full of gems. #10 Trisha Yearwood, “Heaven, Heartache and the Power of Love” Yearwood’s records are so pristine that she always shows grace and restraint. Even on the tracks where her voice soars, she’s still holding back. The lead single from her new set finds her abandoning her usual caution, and she makes the rafters ring. There’s a raw joy to her performance that lifts the spiritual lyric all the way up Read More

The Fifty Best Singles of 2007, Part 4: #20-#11

December 20, 2007 // 5 Comments

I have to say that any one of these songs could have been in my top ten in years past. It’s just been a great year for country singles. #20 George Strait, “How ‘Bout Them Cowgirls” For all of those who have tried to imitate him, there’s never been one that came close. “Cowgirls” is a classic showcase of Strait’s smooth, effortless vocals. A lesser singer would’ve tripped over the line in the second verse, “Those other wide open spaces, nowadays there ain’t as many,” but he delivers it perfectly, then slips right into the soaring chorus. He’s the master. #19 Steve Earle featuring Forro in the Dark, “City of Immigrants” Native New Yorkers curse the traffic and slushy winter days. The immigrants Earle celebrates? They send their kids to school to become Americanized while they work themselves to the bone, wishing they were still in their homeland. The only Read More

The Fifty Best Singles of 2007, Part 3: #30-#21

December 19, 2007 // 1 Comment

We’re getting closer to the top. Here’s the next ten: #30 Amy Dalley, “Let’s Try Goodbye” The latest attempt from Dalley pulls yet another excellent song from her long-shelved debut album, and it rivals “I Would Cry” as her best single to date. She has a gift for melody and a unique point of view in her lyrics. If Curb would just put out the album, they may find she’s already earned an audience. #29 Porter Wagoner, “Committed to Parkview” It’s a solemn and poetic song from the point of view of a patient in a mental hospital. It doesn’t reach the glorious, delirious heights of his seventies camp classic “The Rubber Room”, but it’s a fine swan song for one of the last great hillbilly superstars. #28 Keith Urban, “Everybody” Written before he went into rehab himself, it’s hard not to think that Urban was his own audience for Read More

The Fifty Best Singles of 2007, Part 2: #40-#31

December 18, 2007 // 7 Comments

The countdown continues, with #40-#31. #40 Rick Trevino, “Separate Ways” After watching his parents divorce, a love that went “from great to good to bad to worse”, he’s still picking up the pieces years later, and pleading with his wife to promise that they’ll never go their separate ways, like his mother and father did. He sings the hell out of it, too. #39 Brooks & Dunn, “God Must Be Busy” Ronnie Dunn is one of the best male vocalists of his generation, so it’s frustrating to wade through the trite cowboy rave-ups and color-by-number ballads he usually wastes his time with. Give him a fantastic song like this one, however, and it’s impossible not to be reminded of his talent. #38 Kim Richey, “Jack and Jill” Get Sir George Martin’s son to produce your album, and you’re going to have the Beatles sound seep into your record. Richey bounces Read More

The Fifty Best Singles of 2007, Part 1: #50-#41

December 17, 2007 // 4 Comments

All this week, Country Universe will be counting down the fifty best singles of the year. It’s been a great year for country singles, and this is the most diverse list compiled yet for this site. Some of these songs were given great reviews from the start, and some grew on me over time. Today, we’ll get things started with #50-#41. Check back every day for ten more entries, culminating in the top ten on Friday. #50 Tracy Byrd, “Better Places Than This” Back in his heyday, Byrd turned in some of the funniest – and silliest – drinking anthems you could find on country radio. With this single, he shows he can keep the humor while drinking away the memory of the woman he still loves. As he says to the bartender, “I’ve been thrown out of better places than this.” #49 Hal Ketchum, “In Front of the Alamo” Read More