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.
40. Taylor Swift–Evermore
Taylor Swift apparently got bored during Covid and decided to release two albums this year. Evermore is the second one she released. The other one will appear later. Swift has transitioned from pop darling to folk darling this year, putting out a rootsier album than anything she did when country music radio loved her. This one does not have glitz and glamour, as she went sparse on both albums, highlighting the songwriting, which is blooming into something fun to see.
39. The Band of Heathens–Strangers
The Heathens are back with some more blues-rock, exploring the strange times that are 2020. Black Cat is more legend telling than prescient, but still grooves. Truth Left is a little more poignant with its lyrics. Those were the two standout tracks for me.
38. Jerry Joseph–The Beautiful Madness
Call this the third Drive-By Truckers album of the year as they backed Joseph for this one, with Patterson Hood producing. The Beautiful Madness is raw, emotional and political. All things I’m on board for these days. My favorite track on the album was a rant-rock anthem that hits hard. Other tracks groove better or are smoother, but I keep circling back to this one. All the DBT participated, and they even got Jason Isbell on the track Dead Confederate. This is southern roots royalty here.
37. Margo Price–That’s How Rumors Get Started
That’s How Rumors Get Started is the third album from Illinois-born Nashville native Price. She continues to put her stamp on country music, fresh off a 2018 Grammy win and a 2019 nomination. Margo continues to blend traditional with southern roots. Case in point, Prisoner of the Highway throws in some serious organ.
36. Steve Earle–Ghosts of West Virginia
My affinity for Mr. Earle is no secret on this blog. I listen to his show every weekend. I read the books, I nearly screamed the first time I got a picture with him. Yeah, I’m a fangirl. All that aside, Ghosts of West Virginia is an important album, as it accompanies a Broadway play about a mining explosion. Unfortunately, the production got shut down this year with the pandemic. Steve still plans to tour the album when it is possible, believing in its importance that much.
35. The Wood Brothers–Kingdom In My Mind
The Wood Brothers (actual brothers Chris and Oliver, plus Jano Rix) are now on their seventh album, having relocated to Nashville. And it might be their best yet. They had more time to spend on this one as they bought and moved into a studio. Given that time, this one was a lot of jams, condensed down for the record version.
34. Willie Nelson–First Rose Of Spring
Willie continues to lean into his elder statesman role with yet another album. Willie has started singing songs of losing friends, approaching death and the such. It would be sad by many others, but it feels like Willie is content at this point. I just hope we can all form a circle of protection so we can continue to get his music. Also, this will probably be the only time a Toby Keith song ever appears on this blog, but Willie’s cover of this was just perfect.
33. Logan Ledger–Logan Ledger
This was a debut album I discovered through Steve Earle, who helped with a song or two. The album has a who’s who backing the Bay area singer/songwriter. T Bone Burnett produced it. The band was the same band that backed Robert Plan and Alison Krauss on their Grammy album. Co-writes include Earle and John Paul White. It is as atmospheric as Americana gets, with spacious pedal and a slow draw to several of the songs. It sits heavy hearted, even the up tempo stuff.
32. William Prince–Reliever
Prince has “one of those voices”. It just stops you the first time you hear it. Prince is a Canadian country singer and this was his sophomore album. And in the process of writing this up, I noticed he snuck another album out later in the year I somehow missed.
31. Sam Morrow–Gettin’ By on Gettin’ Down
There are times when Sam Morrow reminds me a little of Sturgill. And if I had to pick an album that could potentially move up this list in coming years, this might be it. I’m not sure why he didn’t show up on my radar until his fourth album, but this one rocks quite a bit as his most guitar-centric one yet. This one grooves. Morrow is Texas born but lives in LA now, and you could probably guess that the sound of this album alone.
More to come in future posts.