Continuing on in our look at my favorite albums of 2020.
The first 50 was just a table list. Now I’ll start including short write-ups and videos of favorite tracks.
50. Bon Jovi–2020
The Jersey rocker known for the 80s hairband days has morphed into a social folk artist with this album. Seriously, Bon Jovi putting out something that fits the style of Dylan and Cohen, if not the quality, caught me completely off guard.
49. Reckless Kelly–American Jackpot/American Girls
Reckless Kelly is one of those bands who always get a bump to their albums because I love them live. I’ve seen them a few times now. AJAG is the Austin rockers’ 10th studio album, and checks in with 20 tracks on it. North American Jackpot, Company of Kings and Lost Inside The Groove were my favorite tracks on the album, but the below is the one that hits me the most. Damn you, sentimentality, where did you come from?
48. Brothers Osborne–Skeletons
I don’t listen to a ton of stuff that sounds like Music Row. Brothers Osborne are an exception. They have just enough tinge of legitimacy to them that I buy it. These are the guys you throw on with your friends who are still listening to the cuntry and call it a compromise. Sometimes country, sometimes southern rock and sometimes beach rock.
47. Wade Bowen–The Waiting
More Texas country from the Waco veteran. Bowen has been kicking around as a solo artist for nearly 20 years now. Plus, his Instagram family feud with brother-in-law Cody Canada is just pure entertainment that has nothing to do with this album. I digress. And spoiler alert, Wade shows up again much higher in my rankings. The Waiting is a more EP than album at just six tracks, including a new studio version of one of his earliest and most popular songs, Who I Am, along with a Phil Collins cover and a new song, Fairest Lady, which he co-wrote with Brent Cobb.
46. Old 97s–Twelfth
This is the, ahem, 12th album from Dallas band that was early pioneers in the alt-country scene. Rhett Miller is back from a short solo stint. 27 years into their career and the 97s are still loud and fun in all the right ways.
45. John Baumann–Country Shade
Some more Texas country. Yeah, I have a wheelhouse. We know this. Country Shade is Baumann’s third full-length release, but the first one to pop up on my list. He had a big year in my world, cracking the top 50 here, and showing up later with some friends. Next Time Around The Sun was the first single I heard, but the opener, The Country Doesn’t Sound The Same, was the tone setter.
44. The Mystix–Can’t Change It
The Mystix is a roots supergroup featuring Joe Lily on vocals and the twin lead guitars of Bobby B Keyes and Duke Levine. It is sometimes blues, sometimes Americana. Can’t Change It is a melting pot album. Joe’s voice is one of those that has been lived in, and he makes it work.
43. Josh Abbott Band–The Highway Kind
So yeah, this appears to be the Texas Country portion of my rankings. JAB is another one that straddles that red dirt/Music Row line but takes enough steps on the right side for me to appreciate. I think some of that is where I am in life. A few years back, I would have chalked this up as too cheesy. I use to say you won’t understand the sad songs until you have been through some stuff. Turns out, the cheesy love stuff requires the same. Who knew?
42. Colter Wall–Western Swings and Waltzes
Colter Wall has been cranking away lately. The young Canadian who sounds like an old Johnny Cash is known for his voice, but the songwriting is under appreciated. On this one, he paints a Western with his words.
41. Will Hoge–Tiny Little Movies
The 12th album from a Nashville veteran, Tiny Little Movies is just another showcase for a guy who has had a ton of tangential success without ever getting too cool for his roots. I caught a podcast this year with a country veteran, and the name escapes me right now, but he had the line “We are all just out here trying to be Will Hoge.” Yes, yes we are.
More to come in future posts.