The 100 Greatest Albums of the Decade, Part 4
Pam Tillis, It’s All Relative: Tillis Sings Tillis
By the time she released a tribute to her father Mel, she’d become something of a legend in her own right. So it’s no surprise that she approached Mel’s stellar songwriting catalog as if she was recording any other studio album, taking the best of the bunch and making them her own. Bonus points for preserving the original fiddle breakdown from “Heart Over Mind” while making that classic shuffle a forlorn ballad, and a few more for hitting the archives of the Country Music Hall of Fame until she found a forgotten gem that should’ve been a hit back in the day (“Not Like it Was With You.”) – Kevin Coyne
Recommended Tracks: “Mental Revenge”, “Detroit City”
Dwight Yoakam, dwightyoakamacoustic.net
Yoakam takes a new, inspired spin on the greatest hits album concept, presenting us with a hearty sampling (over 20 songs) of his catalog served acoustic style. It simply works for the country legend. He introduces some delightful new twists and turns to his old classics, and as it should go with acoustic music, the album is driven by unadulterated, raw vocals, coupled with honest storytelling – the purest form of country music. – Tara Seetharam
Recommended Tracks: “A Thousand Miles From Nowhere”, “Things Change”
Gillian Welch, Time (The Revelator)
Time (The Revelator) is Gillian Welch and David Rawlings with much of their typical production stripped away. Accompanied by acoustic guitar and banjo, Gillian sings with emotions as much as she sings notes that create a surprisingly full sound. – William Ward
Recommended Tracks: “I Want to Sing That Rock and Roll”, “Red Clay Halo”
Reba McEntire, Reba Duets
That McEntire is able to smoothly and effortlessly wrap her voice around eleven other distinctive voices is a tribute to her sheer talent as an artist. With duet partners stretching from Justin Timberlake to Ronnie Dunn, McEntire presents a stunning, layered mix of sounds and styles, demonstrating that when gifted artists come together, no perceived boundaries can stop them from making good music. – TS
Recommended Tracks: “The Only Promise That Remains”, “When You Love Someone Like That”
Lee Ann Womack, Call Me Crazy
Very few country artists can express pain more poignantly than Womack, who taps into a place of tender desperation with her highly-acclaimed 2008 album. The stories are deep and reflective, the sorrow palpable, and the production adeptly sparse – a potent combination. – TS
Recommended Tracks: “Solitary Thinkin'”, “Either Way”
Nickel Creek, Nickel Creek
Nickel Creek has been nominated for Best Bluegrass Album and Best Country Instrumental Performance Grammys and won Best Contemporary Folk Album, yet the group does not easily fit into any of those categories. Produced by Alison Krauss, Nickel Creek’s self-titled album is their most bluegrass-influenced album. – WW
Recommended Tracks: “The Fox”, “The Hand Song”
Sara Watkins, Sara Watkins
Sara Watkins’ self-titled debut holds more than a few surprises, including more country influence than you will hear from any of her former Nickel Creek bandmates’ solo work. Produced by John Paul Jones, pedal steel is prominent on Jimmie Rodgers’ “Any Old Time,” performed as western swing, “All this Time,” and Tom Waits’ “Pony.” – WW
Recommended Tracks: “All This Time”, “Give Me Jesus”
Dierks Bentley, Modern Day Drifter
Rife with accessible melodies, solid lyrics and a penchant for traditional sounds, Dierks Bentley’s sophomore project, Modern Day Drifter, confirmed the promise that was only hinted at on his first album. The title of the album rightly suggests that Bentley will explore the components of breaking the chains of domesticity, which include the freedom (“Lotta Leavin’ Left to Do”, “Modern Day Drifter”, “Domestic Light and Cold”, “the Cab of My Truck”) and the ultimate consequences (“Settle for a Slowdown”, “Down on Easy Street”). Nevertheless, Bentley does not stop with those themes. He also finds room for common themes as love and loss, as demonstrated in the pretty “Good Things Happen”, the smoldering “Come A Little Closer” and heartbreaking “Gonna Get There Someday.” – Leeann Ward
Todd Snider, The Devil You Know
An explosion of righteous anger over poverty with an undercurrent of joyous celebration of America’s underclass. You can never tell for sure if he sees himself as their advocate or their peer, but the songs are so powerful, it doesn’t really matter. – KC
Recommended Tracks: “Just Like Old Times”, “The Devil You Know”
Rodney Crowell, The Houston Kid
After a string of somewhat underwhelming major-label releases in the 90’s, Rodney Crowell rebounded in a big way with this remarkably deep set on celebrated indie label Sugar Hill. Childhood joys and adult insights stand side-by-side in The Houston Kid, producing an emotionally rich and complicated survey of the album’s world. Such is the detail and soul of Crowell’s writing that every second comes across as autobiographical, even the ones that probably aren’t. – Dan Milliken
Recommended Tracks: “The Rock Of My Soul”, “I Walk The Line (Revisited)”
– – –
- 100 Greatest Albums of the Decade, Part 2: #90-#81
- 100 Greatest Albums of the Decade, Part 3: #80-#71
- 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
Yay, Lee Ann! She picked up a couple of nominations for the Grammy’s this year.
What I think is fascinating about the Yoakam set is that while it’s only him and a guitar, the recordings still sound muscular enough to make you forget the very simple production.
I’m thrilled that someone liked The Houston Kid as much as I did.
Reba Duets seems to be ranked a bit too high for me for the number of throw away songs on it. There were a few good ones but as a cohesive album I wouldnt rate it too high, just my opinion on the album.
I really like the Crowell album a lot, along with his other albums from this decade.
Great list so far, but Reba Duets is ranked far too high in my opinion.
I have four of these albums, Tillis, Bentley,Crowell and Womack (now 18/40).
The Rodney Crowell album is very good as is the Pam Tillis album. I find myself hitting the repeat button on one particular track on the Crowell album (no prize for guessing which one)
Alright. Now we’re really getting into some good stuff. I’m surprised a lot of these didn’t rank higher (particularly the Lee Ann Womack album), but it does get me excited for the reveal of slots 60 – 1. Although Reba is my favorite, I am surprised to see her Duets project ranked this high. After reading the description for the Dierks Bentley disc, I may have to seek it out and give it a chance.
Just heard Pam Tillis perform “Heart Over Mind” a few weeks ago at an acoustic performance in Viroqua, Wis. The song hadn’t made much of an impression on me until I heard it live. Now I love it.
I’m guessing and hoping that Pam’s “Rhinestone” album will appear somewhere higher up, as it’s the better of her two albums the last 10 years.
Same goes for “There’s More Where That Came From” from Lee Ann Womack, although I love “Call Me Crazy,” too.
Womack received three Grammy nominations today.
Reba Duets doesn’t belong – that was total crap, and the Justin Timberlake duet as a recommended track makes it even more disappointing
And on the other hand, Call Me Crazy should be higher =) Great album
I think Timberlake sounds great with Reba on that song.
I don’t begrudge the Reba album a spot on this countdown – it was a stronger set than 2003’s Room to Breathe IMO, but I would have recommended different tracks myself, like ‘Does The Wind Still Blow In Oklahoma’ (with Ronnie Dunn) and ‘Break Each Other’s Hearts Again’ (with Don Henley). I never understood why so many people were down on that album either.
Great to see the Tillis, Yoakam, and Womack albums on the list too. I think it’s safe to say those three will make my own best of the decade list as well.
I take full responsibility for the inclusion and placement of the duets album, and I stand by my decision. It’s one of my all-time favorite albums, and I disagree that there are some or any filler songs. Each has a unique depth, perspective and sound. I feel Reba’s character in the album, which isn’t something I can say for all of the albums I included on my list.
but I would have recommended different tracks myself, like ‘Does The Wind Still Blow In Oklahoma’ (with Ronnie Dunn) and ‘Break Each Other’s Hearts Again’ (with Don Henley).
I love both those songs, and particularly went back and forth on recommending the former. But there’s something about the two varying perspectives in the Rimes duet that I find fascinating. And I think the Timberlake duet is absolutely gorgeous – incredibly tender and yet so powerful. It’s also pretty neat that he penned it.
The Pam Tillis album is definitely underrated. I like that one alot, and you just can’t go wrong with a Dwight Yoakam album. I wouldn’t have rated the Womack album quite so high; I was disappointed in it. After a three year gap and as a follow-up to a CMA Album of the Year winner, I was expecting more — especially since she scrapped the album that she’d been working on because she wasn’t happy with it. It’s not a bad album, but I was expecting more.
Add me to the list of those who thinks Reba Duets doesn’t belong here. IMO, it is the worst album she ever released, bar none.
I’m surprised and happy to see some Reba love. I liked the Duets album (wouldn’t be in my top ten Reba albums though), especially the duet with Trisha… Amazing.
I think it is placed a little too high, I would have put Timeless and Real Fine Place ahead of that set, but I’m still very happy to see some Reba love. (Would like to see Room To Breathe (one of my favs of hers) on the list)
AND, glad to see Womack’s Call Me Crazy on here. :)
I gave Reba Duets a favorable review. I went in expecting to not like it, but actually enjoyed it more than anything she’d done in more than a decade.
It was also a pretty significant album, the one that reintroduced her as a mainstream icon (Oprah appearance, 300k opening week, first #1 on Billboard 200.) Still loathe that Clarkson collaboration, but enjoyed most of the rest of the record, including the Rimes collab Tara cited, and my personal favorite, the Trisha collab on “She Can’t Save Him.”