Stapleton drew from an epic catalog when plucking tracks for Traveller, blending songs he’d written for other artists (“Whiskey and You”) with mainstays from his live show (“Fire Away”) and even a few covers (“Tennessee Whiskey” and “Was It 26.”) The release felt like a long time coming for most Nashville industry insiders, who had known Stapleton for years as the unsung hero behind many of radio’s biggest hits. channel ORANGE is a slow-burn, but it’s full of rich details. Check out: ‘Runaway’, After proving himself a master storyteller on his major label debut album, Good Kid, mAAd City, Kendrick Lamar delivered another musical deep-dive into the black experience with To Pimp A Butterfly. Those shadows stretch over many of these songs, particularly the loss of her father to cancer as a teenager, which inspired the string-soaked opener “Orphan” and the wholehearted direct address “Daddy I Told You.” Through them, you can hear Monroe loosening her tight grip on the pain and letting acceptance rest gently in her palms. By any reasonable aesthetic criteria, Southeastern is a triumph. There’s trouble where she’s going—the sales numbers will always be lower on the frontier than down at the swimming hole where all the pick-ups full of six-packs are parked—but she’s headed for the mountains where history will be resurrected and reshaped. The definition: Americana is an amalgam of roots music fused by the confluence of the shared and varied traditions that make up the American musical ethos; specifically those sounds that are merged from folk, country, rhythm & blues, rock & roll and other external influential styles. —Ellen Johnson, On Country Squire, Childers takes some of life’s grittiest moments—the stuff that’s defined country music for ages—and punches them up with humor and honky-tonk. All Rights Reserved. A stunning assimilation of jazz, funk, hip-hop and African music, … Butterfly offered the kind of boundless vision the decade was waiting for. With 4:44, however, Jay Z eschewed the posturing and braggadocio of his heyday, recording an intensely personal record of love, regret and repentance. 25. Without further ado, please enjoy this list of the decade’s best country albums, as voted by the Paste staff. That sort of expectation can be a challenge to live up to, but Isbell continues to sally forth, upping the ante in all aspects of his craft. The second is a charmer that intercuts the nostalgic memories of the big night when farmers would bring their eggs (and their pretty daughters)—into town, with a frequent allusion to a “crazy bone” that makes men do mischievous things—the kind of excusable naughtiness that is usually accompanied by an embarrassed, half-scolding, half-laughing, “Grandpa! Arriving just two days before his passing, ★ saw David Bowie remain adventurous to the end, eschewing his rock roots and delivering an exploratory jazz-fusion record that became the perfect farewell to five decades’ worth of history-making music. Check out: ‘Cruel’, Rock’s original chameleon left us with one of his most daring collections of music, shaking up the status quo as if were 1976 all over again. Credit: The 101 Best Albums of the 2010s ... Americana hero Isbell paid his dues all the way from spotlight-stealing Drive … How Americana Went Mainstream in the 2010s Once a niche genre, Americana music found a wider audience in the last decade with artists like the … And I’m not just saying that because he looks and sounds like the kind of guy you don’t want to piss off. He’s been the subject of podcasts, avoids social media, cut pop star Drake’s set short without even appearing at Camp Flog Gnaw and created a visual album just to get off a label deal with Def Jam. Rigorous online discourse about “authenticity”, personas and personal appearance surrounded her debut album, yet Lana Del Rey foresaw the future of pop music. In the 2010s, music became a benchmark for culture: it reflected the seismic shifts, the unease surrounding our increasing reliance on technology, the political unrest and the shrinking of the world’s borders. Andrews sings with the knowing air of someone who has seen a lot of life, and the quiet optimism of someone who knows there’s so much more yet to see. This list will likely share some crossover with our forthcoming Americana and folk lists, and that’s OK—roots music is the umbrella that covers all of these musical styles. Check out: ‘Zebra’, After the Knowles sisters unleashed their personal manifestos in 2016, it was only a matter of time before Jay Z would reveal his own innermost feelings. “We pray to Jesus and we play the Lotto / ‘Cause there ain’t but two ways we can change tomorrow / Well, there ain’t no genie and there ain’t no bottle.” And she’s just getting started. Discover the full story behind a transformative decade in music. We’re half way through the 2010s so it’s the right time to look back at the last five years and celebrate 50 of the finest albums. Previous releases were sprinkled with her characteristic wit, which has gone to seed and run wild on Welder. The Massachusetts songwriter is just singing the truth as she knows it, which is well enough: she’s a mother of five who has been married to the same man for 30 years and still lives in the town where she was born. The Kentucky native doesn’t change the formula he established on Purgatory, or even really freshen it up. Cash, who’s sidestepped her heritage, and eschewed a career as a country star with 11 Number Ones, a marriage to a country writer/producer/artist Rodney Crowell and the city/industry where she found prominence, savored her wandering and the Manhattan life she built. Joined by two protest songs (Richard Farina’s “Birmingham Sunday” and Pops Staples’ title track) and one old blues cut (Mississippi John Hurt’s 1928 murder ballad “The Angels Laid Him Away”), the Carolina Chocolate Drop weaves a song cycle from slavery’s pain and abuse, the jolt and reality that drove the Civil Rights movement and our current epidemic of young black men shot by police. His brand of otherworldly R&B and narcoticised production would become the blueprint for R&B well into the decade. In the years that followed, the Kiwi star spawned many emulators, but she would eclipse them all with her sophomore effort, Melodrama, a coming-of-age record that captures in vivid detail all the joys and heartaches of navigating adulthood. Giddens’ earthy, opera-trained soprano maintains not just dignity, but savors the world around her. Check out: ‘Time Will Tell’, With her bubblegum-pop teen icon days behind her, Robyn reinvented herself in 2010 with Body Talk. With a knack for melody, Robyn delivered an electro-pop album so good it would take eight years for her to release a follow-up. The irony of selecting To the Sunset as one of the best Americana albums of the year is that Amanda Shires deliberately set out to make this a "non-Americana" record. Check out: ‘Thinkin Bout You’. But this big-bearded singer-songwriter is still helping critical acclaim meet mainstream notoriety in a way that can’t help but raise the bar for years to come. Of course, it’d be foolish to ignore Swift’s spot-on pop sensibilities. Check out: ‘Limit To Your Love’, Picking up the mantle of jilted torch singer after Amy Winehouse died, Adele’s blue-eyed soul was just as essential to the 2010s as anything by the pop stars who were experimenting with form. But before we embrace the new, let’s look back at the best in pop, rock, country, hip-hop and R&B over the last 10 years. This remains the best album in Dale’s collection, and one of the best of the decade. Their collaboration resulted in one of the strongest and most grown-up country albums to be released this decade. Please remember we were 11 when the decade started. Check out: ‘bad guy’, When The Weeknd made his mysterious entrance in 2011, with his debut mixtape, House Of Balloons, it felt like contraband. Monroe dug deep on Sparrow after spending some time in therapy to unpack some of the pain of her past. Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged 2004 , 9/10 , americana , nick cave | Leave a Comment » The Highwomen, John Prine and Black Pumas were the big winners at the 19th annual Americana Honors & Awards, which were announced on Tuesday (Dec. 15). Check out: ‘Marvins Room’, Before Billie Eilish came along, Lorde was the most famous teenager in the world, thanks to her all-conquering debut album, Pure Heroine, released when she was just 16. For Cash, the emotions on The River & The Thread are complex and tangled, especially the Grammy-winner’s own difficult relationship with the South, her roots and her own musical journey. ... Grammy-nominated Nightfall is not only Little Big Town's best record to date, but one of the best of the decade. “I’m gonna get a cocktail / vodka and ginger ale / Yeah, I’m gonna smoke a cigarette / That’s nine miles long,” he sings triumphantly, painting a vivid picture of an appealingly vice-filled heaven in the way only he can. —Robert Ham, If you’re an artist who plays music that sounds as if could have been written a century ago, what difference does it make if you take eight years between albums? Country Squire is Purgatory’s splashier sequel. Bill Callahan - Gold Record September 4, 2020 Critic Score 82 18 reviews Amazon iTunes Music Spotify 3. She made her name in biker bars and honky tonks before getting snapped up by a major label. Sure, there were dancehall jams (‘Work’), but she also dabbled in doo-wop (‘Love On The Brain’) and 80s sleazy synth-rock (‘Kiss It Better’). The album opens with the gently loping “Pray to Jesus” and its sad small-town, fingers-crossed existence. They’re joyously resolved, “marching that freedom highway, and aren’t gonna turn around.” —Holly Gleason, The deck feels perpetually stacked against women in the modern country marketplace. While critics started to take the genre more seriously, artists stepped up to the plate to deliver pop with purpose. The albums that were the last decade's best. But with Southeastern, Isbell has broken this hard luck streak, crafting an album worthy of his considerable talents. The first line she sings on the set comes from the song “Runnin’ Just in Case”: “There’s trouble where I’m going, but I’m gonna go there anyway.” The narrator is fleeing a relationship gone bad in search of something better, but as Lambert, over a U2-ish guitar drone, murmurs the names of the music-infused cities she’s passing through—Lafayette, Birmingham and Lubbock—she seems to also be looking for a new kind of Southern song, a new kind of country music. While Price has faced a number of setbacks to get where she is today, her talent first beamed golden bright on this album. Instead, Johnson sounds like a good ol’ boy from Montgomery, Ala., which is exactly what he is, and his second album, That Lonesome Song, recaptures everything that was great about those classic Merle Haggard and George Jones honky-tonk singles from the mid-to-late ’60s. Check out: ‘Video Games’, As the 2010s marched forward, technology, which seemed to be bringing people together, began to create gulfs between them. Listen to the Best Country Albums of the 2010s Spotify playlist right here. This list of the 30 best albums of the 2010s could easily be 200 entries long, but we’ve focused on those records that have truly defined the decade: works by the trailblazers, the disruptors and the torchbearers in popular culture. It’s a powerful blend on songs about itinerant lives, fragile hearts and the steady determination of people searching for something they themselves would likely be hard-pressed to name. Scrobble songs to get recommendations on tracks you might like. While the album lacks a thematic structure, there is an aesthetic one, a historical one: the American folk and roots tradition, that dubious scaffolding of “Americana.” Both “Mine” and “Mean,” are examples of her ability to craft instantly catchy hits. —Mark Lore, The first few years of Jason Isbell’s solo career were beset with personal problems, including a well-publicized struggle with alcohol abuse, and his first three solo outings often played like too much of the same thing. The Nashville Sound, his first record with the 400 Unit since 2011’s Here We Rest, is triumphant in its topical resonance, but draws influence from the timelessness of lyrical curiosity. Simpson dips into the sound of vintage soul with horns courtesy of the Dap-Kings. —Ryan J. Prado, Always ambitious, Americana/traditional folk artist Rhiannon Giddens uses Freedom Highway, her second solo album, for a contemporary end: tracing the roots of the #BlackLivesMatter movement from plantation property to today. James’ Bed” is a chilling soundscape with heavy rhythm under a haunting vocal track with stellar harmonies and a deeply frightening banjo riff. Here’s hoping his own mind-expanding experiments will expand the minds of listeners as well. But it’s that earnestness, simplicity and willingness to over-share that has, in part, earned Swift a legion of best friends—not to mention all the platinum albums, Grammys and a fistful of Number One songs. As Musgraves’ marriage to Kelly inspired the blissful sound on Golden Hour, perhaps Kelly’s next record will cover happier topics. —Eric R. Danton, Elizabeth Cook’s 2007 album, the Rodney Crowell-produced Balls, was straight up Dolly-worshippin’ country, full of stretchy peddle steel and yodel-peppered sass. Like Waylon he carefully cultivates that outlaw image, and like George he has the voice of a slumming angel. His baritone, always rich, is deepened here by a grittiness that lends Southeastern a real soulful quality. Check out: ‘Firework’, Technology has not only globalised pop music but has connected today’s generation with folk music traditions. “Mockingbird” boasts a dense, wheezing wall of harmonica, complete with references to drugs and Parker Posey. You be the judge. A military-marching “Hungover” brilliantly documents the dissolution of a marriage from the missus’ fed-up perspective, and the forlorn “Take A Little Pill” slams Prozac-numbed modern society with “If one won’t work then another one will / If you got a little hurt you take a little pill.” Though Honest Life is technically Andrews’ sixth album, she withdrew the first three, so these 10 songs served as a bit of an introduction. While it’s absolutely and unapologetically meant as an addition to the discourse on inequality and lack of diversity that’s been ruling Nashville and country music (country radio in particular) for decades now, it’s also a country classic, no matter which way you spin it. You see hints of it on songs like “Mean,” where she boldly quips to her critics, “All you are is mean/ And a liar/ And pathetic/ And alone in life.” And on “Dear John,” where she laments her John Mayer tryst with a wizened “I should have known.” Perhaps she should have. Nothing will change how we feel about him, and in his case, that’s a good thing. 5- Lovesick, Broke, & Driftin’ (2002) – Hank Williams III Without question, BR549 and Wayne “The Train” Hancock created the neo-traditionalist movement in the mid 90’s and will always be the kings of it, but Hank III was the one to carry it into the oughts and introduce it to a brand new crop of fans. Steve Earle & The Dukes - J.T. The Best That I Could Do 1978 - 1988 John Mellencamp 25 Last. The most notable name that is not on Sparrow, Monroe’s fourth LP, is Vince Gill, the country superstar who produced her previous two albums. —Robert Ham, Every Lori McKenna album has at least one song that will make you cry—and depending on who you are, and where you are in life, it could be any of them that gets you choked up. While life is full of lights and darks, Golden Hour is more concerned with the glow, and it is Musgraves’ sun-soaked masterpiece. Before the Drake co-sign, before people even knew his name, the man born Abel Makkonen Tesfaye was just a spectre who fused Siouxsie And The Banshees samples with tales of drugs, debauchery and a haunting falsetto. Natalie Hemby, Maren Morris, Amanda Shires and Brandi Carlile, easily four of the most talented people in the greater Americana sphere, explore every facet of femininity and humanity and how they exist alongside each other, from the beautiful and hard-won to the ugly and downright messy. —Lindsay Eanet, Yola Carter’s mere presence—the rare Black artist amid the otherwise pale skinned world of roots music—would have been enough to at least train one’s ear in her direction. Perhaps they didn’t know how to program the soul explosion of “Hangin’ Around” or the sultry opening track “The Snake” or his folksy and heartfelt tribute to the birth of his son as soundtracked by “Hippie Radio.” None of it sounds terribly cozy next to the nearly pop bombast that passes for most country on the radio these days—not that that’s going to keep Church up at night. Check out: ‘Blank Space’, No longer beholden to the benchmarks of the past, the 2010s saw more pop stars getting personal and taking risks, all thanks to Beyoncé. “Last of My Kind” recalls the melodic cadence of The Grateful Dead’s “Friend of the Devil.” “Cumberland Gap” is the first song to showcase the 400 Unit’s riotous rock ‘n’ roll combustion. Check out: ‘What You Need’, If the early 00s were about a rock renaissance, the 2010s were about peak poptimism. —Robert Ham, The cover art for Interstate Gospel, the third album by country supergroup Pistol Annies, couldn’t be more perfect: a picture of our heroines, dressed in their finest frocks, holding hands and striking a defiant pose in the woods—glamorous and unafraid to get their hands dirty when it comes to shaking loose of bad relationships or running through men “like a watering can” to get their needs met. Ask anyone to name the most exciting new voice in hip-hop right now and they’ll all give you the same answer: Tierra Whack. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. The needle may keep moving for female country artists, but that’s of little concern to McBryde. She has a well-informed perspective, then, on growing up and growing older and watching the world change around you. But Clark’s finest moment is the rockabilly-rollicking “Stripes,” wherein a cuckolded female protagonist catches her lover, mid-affair, points a gun, cocks the trigger, and then….has this chorus of second thoughts: “I hate stripes and orange ain’t my color / And if I squeeze that trigger tonight I’ll be wearing one or the other / There’s no crime of passion worth a crime of fashion / The only thing saving your life is I don’t look good in orange and I hate stripes.” —Tom Lanham, Plenty of vocalists can sing with power, and some can sing with convincing subtlety. Lyrics about same-sex kissing and double standards may still be scarce on commercial country airwaves, but that never stopped Musgraves’ “Follow Your Arrow” from rising as a fan favorite. As an homage to the people, places and sounds of the queer dance scene of 80s New York, Cupid Deluxe takes the kitchen-sink approach, melding a bit of disco, soul and R&B to create the new hybrid pop sound that would dominate the decade. Like most of her work, McKenna’s latest is a family-centered collection of rootsy folk songs, and as usual, she finds profundity in the ordinary moments of everyday life. He’s made a superb album. Check out: ‘Someone Like You’, A post-recession record if there ever was one, The Suburbs may have acutely captured the kind of unease that lingered in the air following the 2008 financial crisis, but Arcade Fire also prophesied the anxiety-ridden 2010s. View reviews, ratings, news & more regarding your favorite band. Her bold pastiche of Americana, filtered through nostalgia and her beguiling voice, launched the “sad girl pop” subgenre, and while her latest effort, Norman F__king Rockwell, may be her strongest yet, Born To Die – and standout song ‘Video Games – is what set everything in motion. Here are the Billboard staff's 100 favorite albums from the decade that was. After a string of buzzworthy EPs, Blake emerged with his 2011 self-titled debut, putting his transcendent voice on display and carving out his own genre: electronica-soul. Hip-hop became pop music, while R&B resurfaced with fresh voices. Americana is popularly referred to, especially in print, as alt-country or sometimes Ashley Monroe, Miranda Lambert and Angaleena Presley are standing strong and providing messages of hope to the women languishing in shitty situations. The 2010s were a time of great transition and breaking down of conventions. Whether she shuck’n’shimmies through the flirty trombone-laced “Hey Bebe,” the bowed cello and moan lullaby “Baby Boy” or the staccato romance denied “Love We Almost Had” (featuring fellow roots journeyer Bhi Bhiman), the emotions of desire and elation run strong. —Douglas Heselgrave, As her career has progressed, singer/songwriter Ashley Monroe has been able to move farther and farther away from the standard Nashville plot. The writing on Same Trailer Different Park builds on the simplicity and straightforwardness of country classics while mixing in distinctly modern romantic sentiments, freshening the sound for a new generation of music-lovers. But the British singer/songwriter’s performances are nothing short of revelatory, a conjoining of American musical interests (country, blues, soul, pop) warped by years of personal turmoil and bursting free via her sturdy, resolute vocal performances—a far cry in tone from her artistic heroes (Dolly Parton, Neil Young and The Byrds, among them) but firmly connected to their influences, lyrically and emotionally. There’s an ease to the record, which is interesting considering it spends so much time investing in the often complicated work of genre-busting. I’ll listen to his rocking chair tales any time. On Speak Now, Swift’s third full-length, she whispers her secrets into the eager ears of millions. There’s still lust (Monroe’s “Hands On You” is steamy and perfect) and life’s fleeting moments of joy, but the consequences of one’s actions are weighing on these songs. No one understood this better than Kevin Parker (Tame Impala). Musgraves is all-too familiar with life’s ups and downs, lights and darks, and how they often co-exist. The first spin offers up plentiful surprises: sharp musical turns matched up with sounds that feel familiar and comforting. How do you take stock of a decade? She’s proving that you can write and sing songs as sad as “Tin Man,” as funny as “Pink Sunglasses” as romantic as “To Learn Her” or as bittersweet as “The Ugly Lights” with one foot in the past and one foot in the future. Solange’s A Seat At The Table didn’t just shift the culture, it ignited a movement. The Best Albums of The Decade: The 2010s 99 Bring Me The Horizon, ‘amo’ (SONY/RCA, 2019). 109 Weeks. Following a self-imposed mini-hiatus, West doubled down on his vices and created an ode to excess and hedonism. Stacked with A-list appearances by Nicki Minaj (on her scene-stealing ‘Monster’ verse), Pusha T (‘Runaway’), Kid Cudi and Raekwon (‘Gorgeous’), MBDTF set the scene for a flood of classic hip-hop albums in the 2010s. As this brilliant album makes clear, he’s on his own path, and the rest of y’all need to step it up if you’re going to keep pace. Frank Ocean. At its core is an emotional journey, at times told through the lens of outlandish characters who’d feel right at home in a spaghetti western (two canyon-traversing cowboys caught up in a doomed romance on “Dead of Night”), and, at others, through more personal anecdotes (“Turn to Hate” tracks a series of internal struggles, told from a male, gay perspective we may not otherwise hear in country). Nothing’s Gonna Change… is ultimately the kind of album you can curl up into, let the warm tones surround you and rest easy in a way that makes you feel like, “damn, everything feels right about now.” At the risk of sounding like a jerk, Earle’s album title is true. In its peaks and valleys, or the grey areas in between? —Andy Whitman, For decades now, John Prine has operated as a kind of people’s poet—a layman’s Proust whose plainspoken prose has made albums filled with his country-folk tunes as simple as they are penetrating. Alongside her quietly picked acoustic guitar, the songs on Honest Life comprise an album at once elegant and deeply moving. This is wild, untamed music sung in a wild, untamed voice, and it’s brilliant. Check out: ‘The Suburbs’, When Beach House first staked their claim on pop culture, the 00s was a breeding ground for lo-fi, chillwave rock, but 2010’s Teen Dream remains their defining moment. Without further ado, please enjoy this list of the decade’s best country albums, as voted by the Paste staff. Check out: ‘Born This Way’, As one decade opened, the bastions of the previous decade closed-up shop. - Overall album rank: #1,244 - Rank in decade: #119 - Rank in year: #35 - Appears in: 184 charts. Recorded with Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys at his studio in Nashville with a crack team of backing musicians, including former Johnny Cash bassist Dave Roe, legendary session pianist Bobby Wood and a guest spot from Vince Gill, the album is steeped in woozy country (the dusty title track), hip-swinging ’60s R&B à la Dusty Springfield (“Still Gone,” “Ride Out in the Country”) and the peaceful, easy feeling that can arrive when trying to meld those two aesthetics. Simpson may reside in Nashville these days, but he’s operating on a completely different plane. That’s why back in 2006, in the midst of another decade entirely, we constructed a list of the 100 best songwriters alive. —Geoffrey Himes, When it comes to humor, straightforwardness and never, ever giving a shit, Kacey Musgraves takes all the right cues. There aren’t very many who can do both in the same breath. Perfume Genius and Dua Lipa had us dancing in our homes, Thundercat and Angelica Garcia dug deep to reach new heights, and long-running acts like the Strokes, AC/DC, and Stephen Malkmus reminded us that rock isn't dead. Musgraves has a knack for coy wordplay on “Space Cowboy” and “Slow Burn,” and if “Mother” doesn’t inspire you to call up your mom right this minute, you need to listen again. If you don’t like country music, don’t bother. “Knockin’ On Your Screen Door” and “Egg & Daughter Night, Lincoln Nebraska, 1967 (Crazy Bone)” deliver Prine’s sly, homespun humor. Check out: Whack World, There’s a kind of blinding optimism on Teenage Dream makes you wonder: when did we all stop being this happy? But if Balls was chilled-in-the-box strawberry wine, Welder is mulberry-flavored moonshine: homemade, delicious and completely unsanitary. Work, family, children, straight romance, queer romance, shitty men, imperfect women—it’s all there, made more impactful by the expertly played fiddle, drums, electric guitar and the voices of many. Ocean brought a sense of fluidity to the genre, occupying a variety of characters’ points of view and, in turn, delivering a fresh perspective: his own. S operating on a journey toward career longevity and Nowhere is her confident and solid first.! Plentiful surprises: sharp musical turns matched up with sounds that feel familiar and comforting in Uncategorized Tagged! Probably the greatest americana album of the Dap-Kings their approach a dense, wheezing wall of harmonica complete... 2010S: 30 Classics that Defined the decade, but her debut full-length Walk through Fire only solidifies ’. Honky tonks before getting snapped up by a major label from black artist... Jesus ” and its sad small-town, fingers-crossed existence album bore the weight of a nation on shoulders! 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