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2015 Country Music Preview: 20 Reasons to Love This Year

From Loretta’s next album to Faith’s new film, we count down the music and events we’re most looking forward to over the next 12 months

2015 country music

Kacey Musgraves and Loretta Lynn. Their new albums are just two reasons why 2015 will be a great year for country music.

Rick Diamond/Getty Images

Peering into country music's crystal ball, 2015 is poised to be a year of comebacks, throwbacks and grand events. The biggest revivals will include a new chapter of one country queen's recording career while another returns to the big screen after more than a decade. Albums by the likes of Kacey Musgraves, Loretta Lynn and Jamey Johnson will, no doubt, remind fans of the foundation of country's appeal: its lyrics. And big ticket shows on both coasts will team country-radio rulers with their equally gifted freshmen counterparts. Here, Rolling Stone Country looks ahead to the albums, films, events and trends we're most looking forward to in 2015.

Kip Moore

Kip Moore performs at the American Country Countdown Awards.

Kip Moore, ‘Smoke’ (TBD)

Ah, this is nice to see: a country chart-topper who writes not some, or even most, but all of his own songs. On Moore's next album, reportedly titled Smoke, the raspy-throated thirtysomething sings about the redemption of Sunday morning ("Dirt Road"), the blue-collar struggle of the working week ("Comeback Kid") and the romantic thrill of teenage nights ("Young Love"). Originally due out last summer, Smoke was delayed by nearly a year — possibly by a record label that balked when the album's flagship single, "Dirt Road," barely cracked the Top 40, or maybe by a cautious Moore who wanted to tweak and fine-tune his twang before releasing the official follow-up to 2012's lauded Up All Night. The singer promises it'll be worth the wait, telling Rolling Stone Country, "I believe in this record even more than I did the first one. I’ve seen the way our fans react to the new songs, and I know what it's going to do." A.L.

Kacey Musgraves

Kacey Musgraves

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Kacey Musgraves’ Follow-Up to ‘Same Trailer Different Park’ (TBD)

Nearly two years have elapsed since the release of Kacey Musgraves' Same Trailer Different Park, and what a two years it has been for the Texan. Her universally acclaimed album topped the country chart and went on to win a Grammy for Best Country Album, while one of the LP's most buzzed-about tracks, "Follow Your Arrow," was named CMA Song of the Year. Musgraves joined Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town and Katy Perry as an opener on their respective tours, hauling her Trailer all over the world, while plotting her next musical move. The new LP will once again be co-produced by the singer with Luke Laird and Shane McAnally, but little else has been revealed about the project. Last fall, however, Musgraves told the Tennessean, "I'm going to go with my gut and make it about the songs. . . I've found my stride, and I'm doing something that makes sense to me." S.B.

Jamey Johnson

AUSTIN, TX - OCTOBER 15: Singer-songwriter Jamey Johnson performs in concert as part of the CMA Songwriters Series 10th anniversary celebration at The Parish on October 15, 2014 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Rick Kern/WireImage)

Country Goes Back to Basics (All Year)

The last year or so saw artists such as Lee Ann Womack and Brandy Clark releasing albums with an emphasis on stripped-down production and engaging story songs, a trend we're excited to see continue in 2015. Jamey Johnson recently gave the first taste of his 2015 album with the sparse, nostalgic "Alabama Pines," which lopes along with a primarily acoustic sound. An early listen to the music Tyler Farr will release this year — like possible album track "Suffer in Peace" — is similarly encouraging, full of soul-baring lyrics and traditional country phrasing. And pop-country duo Love and Theft, whose last single was the party-hearty "Night That You'll Never Forget," have switched gears in 2015 with "Whiskey on My Breath" — a heartbreaker of a regret ballad about meeting one's maker reeking of booze. J.H.