Best Country Albums of 2012 - Rolling Stone
×
Home Music Music News

Best Country Albums of 2012

Kellie Pickler, Jamey Johnson, Lionel Richie and more

kellie pickler

BNA

That girl who almost became a Kennedy may be the new face of country music, but our picks for the best country albums of the year are more the down-home type.

Kellie Pickler, 100 Proof
American Idol
also-ran Pickler is an unlikely trad-country heroine. But 100 Proof may be the best traditionalist album of the year. Pickler wraps her big, lustrous voice around old-fashioned honky tonk, rollicking road stories and big ballads, all produced with a perfect balance of throwback twang and contemporary sheen.

Jamey Johnson, Living for a Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran
Old-soul Johnson convenes stars like Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson and Elvis Costello to cover songs by the late Hank Cochran – bruising badass tales like “The Eagle” and the he-said/she-said pissing match “This Ain’t My First Rodeo.” It’s the year’s finest hootenanny.

Lionel Richie, Tuskegee
This surprise smash paired the Eighties balladeer with country stars, taking on Richie’s hit-packed catalog: Blake Shelton, twangfully stomping through “You Are,” Little Big Town gracing “Deep River Woman” with down-home harmonies. At 63, Richie outsings everyone here – including, amazingly, Willie Nelson.

JB and the Moonshine Band, Beer for Breakfast
These East Texas country rockers are like a thousand other bar bands, with a crucial difference: Frontman JB Patterson can really write songs – balancing sentiment with low-key Music Row wit and driven home with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers-like chime and crunch.

Easton Corbin, All Over the Road
Corbin doesn’t fit the usual Nashville niches for young male stars – he’s neither gruffrocker nor frat dude. His second album displays a modern sound but a genteel manner, a voice that’s a dead ringer for George Strait’s, and loads of fine songs, from lovey-dovey stuff (“A Thing for You”) to clever kiss-offs (“Tulsa Texas”).

Popular on Rolling Stone

Newswire

Powered by
Arrow Created with Sketch. Calendar Created with Sketch. Path Created with Sketch. Shape Created with Sketch. Plus Created with Sketch. minus Created with Sketch.