The 100 Greatest Albums of the Decade, Part 2
Miranda Lambert, Kerosene
On her first major-label album, Lambert reveals herself as a fiery, spirited artist with a lot to say, and a clever voice with which to speak. Her sharp songwriting skills, though a work in progress as we’d later learn, take her naturally from aggression to desolation and back again. But most notably, through Kerosene, Lambert got the traditionalists to pay a little more attention to mainstream country music and its more promising artists. – Tara Seetharam
Recommended Tracks: “Kerosene”, “I Can’t Be Bothered”
Kris Kristofferson, This Old Road
This Old Road has not have received as much mainstream attention as Kristofferson’s recent appearance in Ethan Hawke’s Rolling Stone article; an unfortunate fact, given it was the legendary writer’s first album of new material in 11 years. With This Old Road, Kristofferson shines a spotlight on the world much in the same his earlier writing shined a spotlight on himself. The result is an overtly political album with more depth than most modern attempts have been able to produce. – William Ward
Recommended Tracks: “The Last Thing to Go”, “Pilgrim’s Progress”
Guy Clark, Workbench Songs
The recordings of the songs that Guy Clark, one of country music’s most respected modern songwriters, has written for the most popular artists in country music are typically polished by the best Nashville musicians and slick producers. But Clark’s own albums tend to be more organic, with spare instrumentation that somehow manages to avoid sounding anemic as a result. His well worn voice sings these eleven melodically and lyrically strong songs with warmth and the kind of emotion that easily captures the listener. It’s one of the best albums of his deep catalog that spans over thirty years. – Leeann Ward
Recommended Tracks: “Walkin’ Man”, “Expose”
Wynonna, What the World Needs Now is Love
It’s hard to believe that it’s been six years since Wynonna’s last proper studio album. This collection is easily one of her best, with effective covers like “I Want to Know What Love Is” and “Flies On the Butter”, along with socially conscious material that provokes thought instead of pandering to already held beliefs (“It All Comes Down to Love”). – Kevin Coyne
Recommended Tracks: “Sometimes I Feel Like Elvis”, “Rescue Me”
Lee Ann Womack, I Hope You Dance
The massively successful title track powered this album to triple platinum, but it also overshadowed the excellent songs surrounding it. For those who explored the album beyond track two, there were some of Womack’s finest moments on record, as she had the good taste to plunder the catalogs of Bruce Robison (“Lonely Too”), Bobbie Cryner (“Stronger Than I Am”), Julie Miller (“I Know Why the River Runs”), and Rodney Crowell (“Ashes By Now”). – KC
Recommended Tracks: “Lonely Too”, “Does My Ring Burn Your Finger”
Chris Thile, How to Grow a Woman From the Ground
This is the first album from the band that would eventually become Punch Brothers. Garnering a Grammy Award Nomination in 2006, How to Grow a Woman From the Ground is a solid bluegrass album with classical sensibilities and extraordinary instrumentation. – WW
Recommended Tracks: “Wayside (Back in Time)”, “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground”
Ralph Stanley II, This One Is Two
Hyperbole alert, but it’s hard to think of a more beautiful-sounding traditional country album from this decade, or one which more comfortably merges old school aesthetics with modern production polish. Stanley corralled a number of meaty story songs here, but it’s the combination of his warm baritone and the lush instrumentation that gives this gem its quiet strength. – Dan Milliken
Recommended Tracks: “Cold Shoulder”, “They Say I’ll Never Go Home”
Various Artists, Livin’ Lovin’ Losin’: Songs of the Louvin Brothers
Tribute albums too often feel redundant, as well-meaning artists deliver nice but forgettable imitations of classic records. Not so with the Louvins’, which sticks veteran and current artists alike on the Bros’ close harmonies and sees each intriguing combination (Pam Tillis and Johnny Cash? Why not!) triumph. I daresay it’s as good an introduction to the duo’s work as any compilation of their own recordings. – DM
Recommended Tracks: “How’s the World Treating You?”, “Are You Teasing Me”
Todd Snider, The Excitement Plan
Snider mostly avoids both political themes and complex arrangements on his latest record, emphasizing his greatest strength as a writer instead: his uncanny ability to make the most specifically personal have universal resonance. Listen out for a wonderful cameo from Loretta Lynn on “Don’t Tempt Me.” – KC
Recommended Tracks: “Barefoot Champagne”, “Money, Compliments, Publicity (Song Number 10)”
Mark O’Connor, Thirty-Year Retrospective (Live)
Mark O’Connor’s Thirty Year Retrospective is a double instrumental album of his live performance with Chris Thile, Bryan Sutton and Byron House. The album covers a wide range of Mark O’Connor’s career, presenting a range of instrumental country, bluegrass, new grass and jazz with the detail and care often only applied to classical music. – WW
Recommended Tracks: “Caprice No. 4 in D Major”, “Macedonia”
– – –
- 100 Greatest Albums of the Decade, Part 3: #80-#71
- 100 Greatest Albums of the Decade, Part 4: #70-#61
- 100 Greatest Albums of the Decade, Part 5: #60-51
- 100 Greatest Albums of the Decade, Part 6: #50-#41
- 100 Greatest Albums of the Decade, Part 7: #40-#31
- 100 Greatest Albums of the Decade, Part 8: #30-#21
- 100 Greatest Albums of the Decade, Part 9: #20-#11
- 100 Greatest Albums of the Decade, Conclusion: #10-#1
Nice catch on the Mark O’Connor album. I don’t regard this album as his best of the last decade so will we see more O’Connor entries ?
My other favorite was essentially a jazz album so I went with this one. If I made a personal top 100 there would be more, but we have a lot less repeat artist in our combined lists. Then again, if I made my own list would pretty much be an alt-country, Americana, and bluegrass list.
What is your favorite? I don’t have all his albums.
The only albums on this section I own are the Wynonna and Womack ones. Though I keep meaning to pick up the Snider album at amazon.
I am really digging the variety in this list as well. Americana seems to be getting as much love as mainstream country. I like it.
I think too many people will overlook I Hope You Dance as an album due to the huge single and Womack’s more-traditional stuff since. Great disc. Love the Snider one, too.
Dan, I love the Louvin’s tribute album, and completely endorse the your recommended track “Are You Teasing Me”. ;)
I was pleased to see ‘Livin, Lovin, Losin, Songs of the Louvin Bros’ on there. I had just discovered this album last month and have been listening to it a great deal. I even wondered if it would make this list when it was announced so good on ya, anyone who dug ‘Patty’s Sleepless Nights’ should check this one out right away.
none of Mark’s albums are truly country. I prefer the various HOT SWING albums which lean (slightly) toward western swing, although I guess you’d classify them as jazz (however, I feel that the various forms of swing are more country than most Americana albums). I also liked CROSSING BRIDGES
He’s one heck of a great artist – probably the greatest artist, as such, that will show up on this list.
Good catch on the Lee Ann Womack album. I was always bummed that the title cut overshadowed everything else on it (Does My Ring Burn Your Finger, Ashes By Now, Lord I Hope This Day Is Good…).
He definitely produces material that is difficult at best to label with a single genre. So much quality music is that way. At the very least he is one of the most artistically accomplished people on the list.
The Todd Snider album is great! Just got it a couple weeks ago.
none of Mark’s albums are truly country
Soppin’ The Gravy certainly is, and it’s hard to call New Nashville Cats anything else.
Agreed BUT none of Mark’s albums issued this decade are truly country
Nice to see the Louvin Brothers tribute album up there. Definitely a personal favorite.
glad to see Womack, Judd, and Lambert on here.. I’m hoping its a good sign that we havent seen Ms. Yearwood on the list yet. ;)
Wynonna’s album ranks among one of my favorites of all time, and definitely among one of the ‘best’ in this decade.
Love the Louvin Bros. album. That and the Womack album are the only two I have from this batch.
Including the Louvin Brothers’ tribute album was a great thing, given the legacy of the Louvins themselves, the material they gave us, and the artists, past and present, who resurrected them for this era. My favorite track is still the Linda Ronstadt/Carl Jackson pairing “New Partner Waltz”, which got lost in the shuffle of the other artists on the album, including Linda’s two Trio pals Dolly and Emmylou.