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10 Country Albums You Need to Hear This Spring and Summer

From Keith Urban and Dolly Parton to rock royalty gone country

Nashville Gold; Keith Urban; Dolly Parton; Albums; Spring; Rolling Stone

Keith Urban and Dolly Parton have highly-anticipated albums coming soon.

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Steven Tyler and Cyndi Lauper are the latest music icons to jump on the country bandwagon, while more and more country stars are taking cues from the pop and rock worlds. (Sturgill Simpson covering Nirvana, anyone?) The mix of albums coming out of Nashville this spring and summer prove just how wide country music's doors are open. We narrow it down to the 10 must-hears, from a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer-gone-country to some steadfast country traditionalists.

Nashville Gold; Keith Urban; Dolly Parton; Albums; Spring; Rolling Stone

NBC UNIVERSAL EVENTS -- 2015 NBC Upfront Presentation -- Presentation to Advertisers -- Pictured: Dolly Parton "Coat of Many Colors" -- (Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

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Dolly Parton, ‘Pure & Simple/Dolly’s Biggest Hits’ (Summer)

Last year, Parton returned to her acoustic roots in a series of live shows. Now, she's channeling that sound on a new double LP with one side of stripped-down hits and another of new material. "I just wanted to be in a simpler place," she says. Jon Freeman

Nashville Gold; Keith Urban; Dolly Parton; Albums; Spring; Rolling Stone

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 18: Singer-songwriter Cyndi Lauper performs onstage at the Songwriters Hall Of Fame 46th Annual Induction And Awards at Marriott Marquis Hotel on June 18, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Songwriters Hall Of Fame)

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Cyndi Lauper, ‘Detour’ (May 6th)

Six years ago, Lauper released the soul-themed Memphis Blues. Her latest is "an homage to when country and R&B were close together," she says. Lauper covered songs from the Fifties and Sixties by iconic singers like Patsy Cline and Wanda Jackson, working with Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris and Vince Gill. "Childhood defines your music," Lauper says. "If you went by my Aunt Gracie's kitchen, she was playing the country station." Brittany Spanos

Nashville Gold; Keith Urban; Dolly Parton; Albums; Spring; Rolling Stone

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Keith Urban, ‘Ripcord’ (May 6th)

"It smells like religion," Urban says, walking through Los Angeles' iconic EastWest Studios, where Frank Sina- tra and the Beach Boys recorded classic hits. Urban is in L.A. taping the remaining episodes of American Idol's last season and putting the finishing touches on his next album, Ripcord, which continues in the try-anything vein of 2013's Fuse. Among the 25 tracks he's considering, there's the danceable country chart-topper "John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16" and "Sun Don't Let Me Down," a collaboration with Pitbull and disco great/ Daft Punk producer Nile Rodgers. Urban is excited about his music's increasingly funky sound: "My dad was a drummer and I've always been drawn toward rhythmic things." But that sound wasn't easy to get. "It was a lot of searching, a lot of experimenting," he says. "When you get to work with as many people as I did, you end up with a lot of stuff." Jenny Eliscu

Nashville Gold; Keith Urban; Dolly Parton; Albums; Spring; Rolling Stone

Mandatory Credit: Photo by MediaPunch/REX/Shutterstock (3674180f) Shawn Colvin and Steve Earle Shawn Colvin and Steve Earle in concert at the Musikfest Cafe, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, America - 19 Mar 2014

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Shawn Colvin and Steve Earle, ‘Colvin & Earle’ (June)

Earle and singer-songwriter Colvin recorded a set that ranges from the rollicking, political "Tell Moses" to covers like the Stones' "Ruby Tuesday." Says Colvin of Earle, "He's just got the whole package." Jon Dolan