Years ago, while I was driving down to SXSW, a U.S. border agent told me I had to answer one question before he’d let me into the country: Did I like country music? Sure, I said — as long as we were talking about people like Hank Williams, Patsy, Willie, Dolly and Merle as opposed to Shania, Toby and Garth. “That’s the right answer,” he said, and sent me on my way. I till don’t care much for the endless loop of lite-beer anthems and pickup-truck jingles that defines Nashville these days. Every now and then, however, along comes an album that gets it right. Here are the ones that passed the test in 2019:
Let It Roll
WHO ARE THEY? A trio of Texans who traffic in old-school country-rock — and look the part with their anachronistic western leisure suits, big hats and funky facial hair.
WHAT IS THIS? True to its title, Let It Roll picks up where their 2017 debut On the Rocks left off, with songs about lovin’, cheatin’, fussin’, fightin’, hurtin’, leavin’, drinkin’, truckin’ and honky-tonkin’ — set to their winning amalgam of smooth ’80s country twang, ’70s FM rock and timeless pop.
WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE? Your daddy’s country albums — assuming daddy was into Dwight Yoakam, George Strait, Bocephus, Eagles and the like.
READ THE FULL REVIEW AND HEAR THE ALBUM HERE
Co. Townes | Van Zandt
Jim Cuddy | Countrywide Soul
Karly Driftwood | Too Mean to Die
The Highwomen | The Highwomen
Miranda Lambert | Wildcard
Allison Moorer | Blood
Willie Nelson | Ride Me Back Home
Orville Peck | Pony
Tanya Tucker | While I’m Livin’
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