40 Best Country and Americana Albums of 2019 - Rolling Stone
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40 Best Country and Americana Albums of 2019

The genres delivered bold new sounds this year, thanks to LPs from Miranda Lambert, Orville Peck, and Tanya Tucker

The country and Americana genres were responsible for some fantastic albums in 2019, with many of them defined by a left-field approach that resulted in bold new sounds.

Miranda Lambert mixed alt-rock with her country twang by teaming up with producer Jay Joyce. Texas band Mike and the Moonpies decamped to London to record with a symphony. Buzzy masked singer Orville Peck brought an air of mystery and gothic grandeur to the genre. Sturgill Simpson made his skronk-country record. And Dan Auerbach cemented his old-meets-new production style with three knockouts albums from Yola, Kendell Marvel, and Dee White.

And then there was Brandi Carlile, who not only formed one of the most vital and versatile supergroups in recent memory with the Highwomen, but also revealed a whole new side of country veteran Tanya Tucker by co-producing her marvelous comeback LP While I’m Livin‘.

An undercurrent of solidarity was also detectable this year, as artists rallied behind both musical and cultural causes. See the Highwomen, yes, but also Our Native Daughters, Maren Morris, Michaela Anne, and Emily Scott Robinson, who all put out albums with a message.

And some albums, from Jon Pardi’s good clean fun to Paul Cauthen’s don’t-tell-your-mama-about-it, just wanted to further the party.

Here’s the 40 best country and Americana LPs of the year.

tanya tucker
1

Tanya Tucker, ‘While I’m Livin”

Although Tucker hates to refer to it as such, her “comeback” album couldn’t have turned out any better — While I’m Livin’ featured 10 expertly chosen songs, two Grammy-winning producers, and one unmistakable voice. (It also netted her four Grammy nominations of her own.) A concise 35 minutes, the LP captured the outlaw essence of the one-time teenage star without resting on past laurels — there’s no “Delta Dawn” remake here. Instead, co-producers Brandi Carlile and Shooter Jennings challenged Tucker, throwing a cover of Miranda Lambert’s “The House That Built Me” at her, along with a wealth of brand-new songs written especially for the 61-year-old by Carlile and Phil and Tim Hanseroth. “Mustang Ridge” and “The Wheels of Laredo” nodded to her Texas raising, and “I Don’t Owe You Anything” found her playing the badass to the hilt. But it’s “Bring My Flowers Now,” about gathering those rosebuds while ye may, that was the album’s apex. “Good music is good, no matter what year, what generation. ‘Delta Dawn’ is always going to be a great song,” Tucker told Rolling Stone. “And that’s why you keep striving to find songs like that.” J.H.

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