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2018 Country Music Preview: 30 Most Anticipated Albums and Tours

From new LPs by Kacey Musgraves and Dierks Bentley to tours by Miranda Lambert and Kenny Chesney

2018 Country Music Preview: 30 Most Anticipated Albums and Tours

A new album from Kacey Musgraves and headlining tours by Kenny Chesney and Miranda Lambert are among the anticipated highlights of 2018.

For fans of country and Americana music, 2018 is shaping up to be a bountiful year. Groundbreaking Nashville artists like Kacey Musgraves and Dierks Bentley are returning with new albums, while up-and-comers like Lanco and Devin Dawson unveil debuts that should make them strong additions to the format. In Americana, BJ Barham’s American Aquarium ready their first release with a new lineup, Australian chanteuse Ruby Boots drops an eclectic LP and Anderson East bares more of his soul on his sophomore album. There are also a ton of tours to keep an eye on. Here are the shows and records we’re most excited to see and hear.

John Oates

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John Oates

Album: Arkansas
Release Date: February 2nd
Since putting down roots in Nashville, Eighties pop-and-R&B icon John Oates has carved out a sweet spot for himself in the Americana community. His 2013 album Good Road to Follow was an underrated gem, with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member (he and Daryl Hall were inducted in 2014) acquitting himself nicely as a roots-music artist. He further mines that genre on the new Arkansas, an LP of mainly covers by Jimmie Rodgers and Mississippi John Hurt, and traditionals (“Stack O Lee” is a highlight). The title track, an Oates original, pays tribute to the state’s musical legacy, informed by its border on the Mississippi River. “My entire musical life has been influenced by the music that has flowed up that river from New Orleans through the Delta,” Oates says. “It occurred to me that Arkansas was the last rural stop on the musical journey northward.” J.H.

12. Brandi Carlile album

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Brandi Carlile

Album: By the Way, I Forgive You
Release Date: February 16th
On her sixth studio album, Americana heroine Brandi Carlile ramps everything up a notch, working with Waylon Jennings’ rebel-yell son Shooter, who co-produced with Dave Cobb. She takes deep dives into her family history (“Most of All”) and offers up an anthem for the downtrodden (“The Joke,” a chin-up call to arms for anyone feeling oppressed, was blasted out in a recent appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live!). While largely adhering to her unplugged, modern-Appalachian approach, Carlile also pushes a few musical envelopes: “Harder to Forgive” is swoony, luxurious pop, “Hold Out Your Hand” has a wall-of-drums wallop and “Party of One” wraps up with shivery orchestration. D.B.

Colter Wall

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Colter Wall

Tour: Warping Our Minds Tour
Dates: March 8th – June 8th
This time last year, Colter Wall, still riding high on the standing ovation he’d received from Steve Earle during an appearance on Skyville Live, was getting ready to release the self-titled LP that he’d recorded with Dave Cobb. The game has changed just a little bit since then for the baritone from Saskatchewan, who vaulted onto many best-of lists for 2017 on the strength of the superb Colter Wall. He heads to Europe this month for a four-week overseas jaunt, then returns to North America to start warping minds in earnest. “I’ve been an opening act for pre