15 Great Country and Americana Albums You Didn't Hear in 2016

From Mark Chesnutt's country tradition to Wheeler Walker Jr.'s country crass, 15 albums that flew under the radar

Sarah Potenza, 'Monster'
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Sarah Potenza, 'Monster'

The Rhode Island native may have gotten her start on The Voice, but the roots rock and R&B of Monster proves she has way more depth than any superficial reality-TV show. The title track is an unflinchingly honest and vulnerable look at body shaming – and acceptance – with Potenza wearing her plus-size like a badass badge of honor. "Up on the Third Floor" recalls her character-building years living in a rough Chicago neighborhood with husband and guitarist Ian Crossman. And the homespun "Granddad" is full of redneck platitudes – "always carry your gun" and never buy a car "you can't sleep in," which elicited whoops at a recent Opry performance. In the standout "My Turn," Potenza asks, "When's it gonna be my turn?" The answer, it seems, is right now. J.H. 

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