The upper half of our albums list reflects the revitalization of country music in 2015, courtesy of mostly younger artists with fresh perspectives in their lyrics and arrangements. There is still a legend or two in the mix, but if this year has proven anything, it’s that the genre’s future is in good hands.
Our singles list concludes with strong entries from new artists, established superstars, and alternative country stalwarts.
Earlier this week, writer and friend-of-Country Universe C.M. Wilcox announced that he was shuttering his blog, Country California. The crew here have long been admirers of the sharp, insightful writing and wry humor that Country California brought to the country music blogosphere, and we all wish Chris the best in his new ventures.
Not sure if he’s misunderstood so much as underappreciated, but that’s beside the point, isn’t?
The 49th Annual Country Music Association Awards will be handed out on Wednesday, November 4. Once again, the ceremony is hosted by Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood.
Here are the personal picks and predictions from the Country Universe staff.
Since making her debut with 1997’s Alabama Song, Allison Moorer has been one of country music’s most consistent albums artists. The singer-songwriter has three unqualified masterpieces to her credit— the flawless stone-country heartbreak cycle of The Hardest Part, the politically charged The Duel, and the somber, heady Southern Gothic of Crows. Despite having those triumphs— and other excellent albums like Alabama Song and Good Fortune— to her credit, Moorer’s latest effort, Down to Believing, is perhaps the finest album of her career because it finds Moorer challenging both her singing and her songwriting voices to plumb truly difficult emotional depths.
Throughout 2015, there have been rumblings of a backlash against the prevailing trends at country radio, and that backlash is certainly reflected in the year’s crop of CMA nominees.