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Superstar September: 13 New Must-Hear Country Albums

September is full of big-name releases, including LPs by Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, Lady Antebellum and more

Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney perform in Las Vegas

Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney perform in Las Vegas

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Black Friday can wait. In country music (at least this year), September is the new November. Next month will see Kenny Chesney's career "revival," George Strait's final concert immortalized and a husband-wife duo of 33 years finally recording a full album together, among many other big-name projects. Here are 13 country albums coming out in September 2014 that deserve a listen. – By Stephen L. Betts, Beville Dunkerley, Adam Gold & Andrew Leahey

Ricky Skaggs and Sharon White perform in Nashville

Ricky Skaggs and Sharon White perform in Nashville

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Ricky Skaggs and Sharon White, ‘Hearts Like Ours’

Release Date: September 30th
In 1987, country and bluegrass mainstays (and husband and wife) Ricky Skaggs and Sharon White earned a CMA award for their duet, "Love Can't Ever Get Better Than This," but because both were busy touring (Skaggs with his band Kentucky Thunder and White with her family band, the Whites), their dream of an entire album of duets had to wait. "Hearts Like Ours is a dream come true for Sharon and I," says Skaggs. "Being married for 33 years, you really get to know someone's heart. I know hers and she knows mine, and you can hear that on this CD." When it came to material for the album, two of the tracks were supplied by another country-music couple. Marty Stuart and Connie Smith penned the title track as well as "I Run to You," while Skaggs and White also apply their gifts for shimmering melody and harmony to such tunes as "Forever's Not Long Enough" and the Townes Van Zandt masterpiece, "If I Needed You."

Kenny Chesney performs in Arlington, Texas

Kenny Chesney performs in Arlington, Texas

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Kenny Chesney, ‘The Big Revival’

Release Date: September 23rd
Even when on a tour break, Chesney is the reigning king of the country road, and with his newest album, the Tennessee native will once again rule the airwaves. He's already doing so with The Big Revival's infectious first single, "American Kids," which unites his fancy-free fans on the "faded little map dots, New York to L.A." The Top 10 hit is already certified gold, signifying more than 500,000 downloads. Returning to his beach-bum-meets-stadium-filler roots, Chesney can expect heavy metal on the full album, as well.

Dustin Lynch performs in Nashville

Dustin Lynch performs at CMA Music Fest

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Dustin Lynch, ‘Where It’s At’

Release Date: September 9th
Life is pretty thrilling these days for young country singer Dustin Lynch. With one album — featuring the smash hit "Cowboys and Angels" — under his belt, and a spot on Keith Urban's 2013-14 Light the Fuse Tour, the Tennessee native continues to demonstrate his love for a number of musical styles, especially with the Top 10 title track (featuring that catchy "yep-yep" refrain), which he tells Rolling Stone Country is a veritable "hodgepodge, with country guitar licks, a little hip-hop and a Motown guitar line." Elsewhere on the LP you'll find synth-pop percussion, seductive grooves steel guitar and, yep-yep, plenty of twang. "I wanted it to have a little more energy than my first album," he says. "There are a lot of moments where we really go for it energy-wise, with the live show in mind. I learned that from watching Keith Urban every night."

Marty Stuart performs in Nashville

Marty Stuart performs in Nashville

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Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives, ‘Saturday Night & Sunday Morning’

Release Date: September 30th
More than just an exploration of two genres (traditional country on one disc and gospel music on the other), the new double album from Stuart is a tremendously entertaining continuation of his dedication to American music and a testament to the indisputable fact that he has one of the best bands working in any genre today. With disc two, Stuart and group's gospel tunes are sure to generate a lot of buzz, if only by virtue of the many artists who influenced them. "The way we got to know each other, as people and as musicians and singers, was gospel music," Stuart tells Rolling Stone Country, noting that when the band was formed he brought the music of the Staples Singers (who appear on the track "The Uncloudy Day"), Flatt and Scruggs, Bill Monroe and Jerry and Tammy Sullivan to the mix. The band's other members also contributed their passion for such gospel legends as the Dixie Hummingbirds and Sister Rosetta Thorpe.

Big & Rich perform in Louisiana

Big & Rich perform at Bayou Country Superfest

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Big & Rich, ‘Gravity’

Release Date: September 23rd
Big Kenny and John Rich have admitted to some knock-down, drag-out fights over the years, and Gravity — the duo's fifth studio album — seems to be their makeup sex. The two singer-songwriters are better together, whether they like it or not, as both musical collaborators and now business partners, as this LP is the first product of their newly-formed Big & Rich Records. "It allows us to be true to ourselves and be the trailblazers we've always risked being," says Big Kenny of the independent release, which finds the two taking their lyrical prowess and signature harmonies to new levels. While the first single, "Look at You," stalled at Number 25 on Billboard's country singles chart, expect the album's stellar "Lovin' Lately" (featuring Tim McGraw) to defy gravity a little better.

Tim McGraw performs at CMA Music Festival

Tim McGraw performs for ABC's 2014 'CMA Music Festival: Country's Night to Rock'

Eric Gebhart/ABC Television Group

Tim McGraw, ‘Sundown Heaven Town’

Release Date: September 16th
If Taylor Swift's lucky number is any kind of omen for her favorite country singer, Tim McGraw's 13th studio album, Sundown Heaven Town will reinforce McGraw's brand as a relevant superstar, not a nostalgia act. On the heels of 2013's transitional mixed bag, Two Lanes of Freedom, Sundown standouts like the top-shelf Tim-and-Faith duet "Meanwhile Back at Mama's" and infectious, banjo-boasting, album-opening stomper "Overrated" see the singer settling back into his Clinton-era country zone, where he does his best work. Kid Rock appears on the deluxe version of the LP, collaborating with his old friend on an earworm called "Lincoln Continentals and Cadillacs."

Randy Owen of Alabama performs in Nashville

Randy Owen of Alabama performs in Nashville

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Alabama, ‘Angels Among Us: Hymns & Gospel Favorites’

Release Date: September 2nd
An influential progenitor of hard-driving country music, Alabama nevertheless delivered one of their most impactful performances with the 1993 Christmas single, "Angels Among Us." Since its release, fans have written to the group by the thousands to share their thoughts on the tune that serves as the title for a 15-track deluxe edition of inspirational songs recorded by the supergroup and being released by Cracker Barrel Old Country Stores. Included on the collection are such iconic gospel tunes as "I Saw the Light," "What a Friend We Have in Jesus," "The Old Rugged Cross" and "I'll Fly Away." This version of the album contains three songs that will not be included on the standard edition, set for release later in September.

Terri Clark performs at the Grand Ole Opry

Terri Clark performs at the Grand Ole Opry

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Terri Clark, ‘Some Songs’

Release Date: September 2nd
Terri Clark has always had one of the most loyal fan bases in country music, and her followers have stepped up to help the Canadian singer-songwriter release her latest collection. A PledgeMusic campaign has kept fans heavily involved throughout the recording process, with invites to the studio and an evening with the singer at the Grand Ole Opry among the perks. In terms of the new music, the collection, led by the breezy title track as its first single, was produced by Michael Knox (best known for his work with Jason Aldean). Five of the album's 10 tracks were co-written by Clark, and there are two contributions from red-hot songwriter Brandy Clark (no relation).