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2017 Spring/Summer Country Preview: 25 Anticipated Albums, Festivals

From new releases by Angaleena Presley and Jason Isbell to annual blowouts like Stagecoach and CMA Music Festival

Spring/Summer Country Album Preview

New albums from Angaleena Presley and Jason Isbell highlight 2017 spring and summer releases.

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From the biggest names in mainstream country to indie songwriter darlings, spring and summer 2017 looks to be full of exciting new releases. Jason Isbell is cranking up with his band the 400 Unit, Angaleena Presley is bucking Nashville traditions and Chris Stapleton is coming back with the follow-up to Traveller. On top of that, warm weather means a wealth of festival options. Here are the albums and concerts not to miss.

Justin Timberlake

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Pilgrimage Music and Cultural Festival

Location: Franklin, Tennessee
Dates: September 23rd – 24th
Franklin, Tennessee’s Pilgrimage Music and Cultural Festival started with a bang its first year, booking major acts like Wilco, Willie Nelson, Sheryl Crow, Chris Stapleton and Steven Tyler for its inaugural 2015 lineup. Since then, the festival has grown in size and notoriety, with Justin Timberlake joining the festival as a partner last year. Timberlake will make his Pilgrimage stage debut this year, alongside Ryan Adams, the Avett Brothers, Shovels & Rope, Marty Stuart, Nikki Lane, Amanda Shires, Colter Wall and many others. In addition to music, Pilgrimage will feature local food, beer and crafts, many of which are sourced from just up the road in Nashville. B.M.

Brad Paisley

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Brad Paisley

Album: Love and War
Release Date: April 21st
It’s been three years since Brad Paisley released his last album Moonshine in the Trunk, but he’s coming back with the big guns on Love and War. His 11th studio album is a star-studded affair with guest spots from Mick Jagger, John Fogerty, Bill Anderson and even an old Johnny Cash poem that Paisley set to music, “Gold All Over the Ground.” While living-in-the-moment single “Today” is featured, last year’s rabble-rousing Demi Lovato duet “Without a Fight” is noticeably absent, a telling sign for which side of the Love and War spectrum these new songs will land. J.G.

Don Williams

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Various Artists

Album: Gentle Giants: The Songs of Don Williams
Release Date:
May 26th
Don Williams may have just retired last year, but the legacy of the iconic country singer is so deeply felt in the songwriting community that a stellar tribute album is already on its way. Gentle Giants: The Songs of Don Williams boasts contributions from Jason Isbell, John Prine, the Pistol Annies and Garth Brooks – just to name a few – all of whom offer their own takes on some of Williams’ most iconic songs like “Tulsa Time,” “Love Is on a Roll” and “Good Ole Boys Like Me.” Proceeds from the Garth Fundis-produced album will benefit MusiCares, and it hits shelves on the eve of Williams’ 78th birthday. B.M.

The Avett Brothers

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Newport Folk Festival

Location: Newport, Rhode Island
Dates: July 28th – 30th
Now nearing its 60th anniversary, Rhode Island’s storied folk and Americana music festival has undergone a renaissance in recent years. Newport Folk, long famous as the scene of Bob Dylan going electric and leaving the out-of-touch purists behind, has found new life as a midsummer mecca for today’s stars and yesterday’s heroes to get together and maybe even collaborate. Last year saw Kris Kristofferson make a historical return (his first appearance since 1969), and 2017 looks set to build on that momentum, with Fleet Foxes, the Avett Brothers and John Prine headlining the fest’s three days, which will also include Angel Olsen, Rhiannon Giddens and a tribute to Chuck Berry. J.G.

Shania Twain

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Shania Twain

Album: TBA
Release Date: Fall 2017
It’s a bit of an understatement to say there is anticipation for Shania Twain’s new full length. The country pop superstar hasn’t released a proper album in 15 years, dealing with stress-related vocal cord issues after her public divorce from Mutt Lange before launching an acclaimed Las Vegas residency and a massive U.S. tour. But Twain’s new material, with help from producers Ron Aniello and Jake Gosling, is said to possess a darker lyrical tone and more organic instrumentation than her blockbuster Nineties productions did. “There’s a lot of songs that have that contrast on it that maybe are too subtle for the listener to even realize,” she told Rolling Stone recently. J.F.