Discussion: Retro Album Artwork

I’m surprised by the amount of discussion on yesterday’s open thread, but apparently bad album artwork gets people talking. The criticism of the Lee Ann Womack cover got me thinking about her well-received album artwork last time out, for her masterpiece There’s More Where That Came From. It was praised for its retro style:

It was popular, but I always preferred the retro approach taken by The Mavericks, on their 1996 album Music For All Occasions. I like the humor present in it:

Patty Loveless is taking the retro approach with her new album art, though with some modern style mixed in for good measure:

Of course, nothing tops actual retro album artwork from back in the day.  Here are two of my favorites, from Loretta Lynn and Porter Wagoner, in that order:

Mention your favorite album artwork in the comments with an explanation why, and I’ll post a thread featuring reader picks later tonight!


  1. Well there’s Ashton Shepherd’s album cover which I thought stood out in today’s mostly faceshot covers. I liked the pool table.

    Brad Paisley’s Time Well Wasted was another interesting one.

    Both of Cherryholmes albums were beautiful.

    and both of the Kathleen Edwards first two albums. especially Back To Me.

    And Finally I liked Deana Carter’s I’m Just a Girl cover, because they made it look like the cover of a magazine, which happened to be a song on the album.

  2. Just regular favorite album artwork?

    I really like Sugarland’s latest, it’s creative and looks good, while illustrating the theme of love from the album.

    Why Should The Fire Die by Nickel Creek is good too, but I want to know what the hand on the cover is touching.

    I don’t know exactly what would be retro, but Little Big Town’s A Place To Land (the first cover) has a sweet sepia color type and the coolest font I’ve seen in a while.

    The Dixie Chicks Home and Taking the Long Way are good covers too.

    For not country, I like Duffy’s Rockferry. It’s a simple sad black and white shot, and it conveys the heartache in the songs well.

    Also, I actually like the Lee Ann Womack cover, it’s funny and fresh to me.

  3. I am really loving Sugarland’s approach to album covers. And just about every thing else they do too for that matter …

    But I must say that Garth Brooks’ ‘Fresh Horses’ cover is my favorite. All you could see was the eye and maybe a half-inch of skin surrounding the eyeball on all sides, but you knew in an instant you were seeing Garth Brooks’ eye somehow. Brilliant.

  4. Marcus Hummon’s original version of “All In Good Time” is quite retro.  Then there’s Bruce Robison’s “Country Sunshine.”  Collin Raye’s career has almost exclusively been a ‘headshot’ album cover but “The Walls Came Down” is quite tasteful and slightly retro.  I LOVE Cross Canadian Ragweed’s “Mission California” cover. It’s one of the best ones of the last few years. Dan Colehour’s Chris Knight-like “Straight To The Highway” is quite a retro cover as well. Darrell Scott’s new “Modern Hymns” has a retro feel to it as well.
    As for non country album covers from recent releases, I like the cover from Carbon Leaf’s “Indian Summer”  Christian pop artist Chris Rice’s “Amusing” is a nice retro cover.

  5. Ok. One last one. Doc Walker from Canada released “Everyone Aboard” a few years ago and it may have even won a few design awards up there. It’s simple but effective.

  6. Patty Loveless has two album covers from this decade that I would give a thumbs-up: Mountain Soul and On Your Way Home.

    Alan Jackson’s Like Red on a Rose springs to mind, as does Lonely Runs Both Ways from Alison Krauss & Union Station. Both are simple and classy.

  7. Rodney Crowell’s GREATEST HITS album on Columbia had a great retro appearence

    Porter Wagoner had several 60s and 70s album covers that were good

  8. I liked the cover of Dixie Chicks’ Fly – Butterfly wings which I thought was very creative. I also liked Sugarland’s “Enjoy the Ride” cover, too.

  9. My favorite is Garth’s “The Chase”. It fits the album very well, which is sort of a darker album for Garth. Hate to get off topic here but hows the Todd Snider favorite songs by favorite artists coming Kevin? I’m really looking forward to it.

  10. The Patty Loveless album you posted is gorgeous. It’s seriously a work of graphic art.

    I’ve always liked LeAnn Rimes’ “Blue” cover.

    Shania Twain’s “Come On Over” is kinda cool ’cause it looks like an illustration instead of a photo.

  11. the person that epitomises visual image and art in country music is dwight yoakam. you could throw his hat on an empty stage and most country fans would know beyond any doubt, it’s dwight yoakam coming next. you could paint a shadow of a guitar player on a wall and everbody would recognise instantly, that’s a dwight-pose.

    “this time”, “gone” or “tomorrow’s sounds today” are extraordinary artful examples of how to visualise an album title, not to mention the fact that a cowboy-hat and a pair of legs in ripped blue-jeans are enough to make sure anybody knows, whose album it is.

    quite a few in country music are artists, but only dwight, willie and dolly are living “works of art”. enjoy them while they last.

  12. I can’t believe nobody has mentioned the Louvin Brothers’ “Satan is Real.” Also, I should note that the cover of Tanya Tucker’s “TNT” made a very big impression on me as a young man. It may have catapulted me into puberty a few years early.

    BTW, anyone who gets a kick out of country album art should pick up the book “Vinyl Hayride.”

  13. Porter’s is a classic. All 3 people look like they could have come right from Wednesday night prayer meeting (except, of course, for the bottle of . . . is it whiskey? on the table).

  14. Off the top of my head, I liked Julie Roberts Men & Mascara — but then again maybe it was because I wanted the shoes :-)(my other vice comes out!)

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