Rhapsody has released their picks for Best Country Albums of 2012. In a year where country really did seem to dominate, the list may surprise you. Aaron Lewis, Kellie Pickler, Love and Theft are joined by Alan Jackson, Kip Moore, Lee Brice, Tim McGraw and more.
Aaron Lewis- The Road– Staind frontman Aaron Lewis first threw his hat into the country ring in 2011 with the single “Country Boy.” It seems Lewis’ deep growl is as equally suited to twanging guitars (of which there are plenty here) as the rocking cacophony Staind musters up. That Lewis wrote or co-wrote all but one of these songs shows he is in tune with what’s going on in contemporary country. “Party in Hell” is a lament to mistakes made in a hard life, while “Lessons Learned” is a heartfelt reminder to stop and smell the roses. Other highlights include “Granddaddy’s Gun,” “Anywhere But Here” and “The Road.”
Lionel Richie- Tuskegee– There’s always been a Southern touch to Lionel Richie’s music. Kenny Rogers recognized this when he took “Lady” to the top of the charts in 1980, and so did Conway Twitty, who covered “Three Times a Lady.” Richie himself even landed on the country charts in 1984 with “Stuck On You.” So a country duets album seems only natural. On Tuskegee, Richie lets the country stars bring out their down-home appeal, without losing his own signature charm. Highlights include: “Sail On” (with Tim McGraw), “My Love” (with Kenny Chesney) and “Deep River Woman” (with Little Big Town).
Love and Theft- Love and Theft– Let’s just say there are no songs about theft on this wholesome country-pop trio-turned-duo’s second album, unless stolen hearts count. Yes, every single track here concerns puppy love — even the one called “Town Drunk.” Peppy single “Angel Eyes” sets the smitten-yet-intimidated tone (“There’s a little bit of devil” in ’em), but the gently swaying “Amen,” in which two lovers sheepishly blow off church, is the highlight: “Why don’t we give that sweet red dress you wear so well the day off?” The one-two closing punch of “Girls Love to Shake It” and “Girls Look Hot in Trucks” is a hoot.
Josh Turner- Punching Bag– After the adrenaline rush of Punching Bag’s intro and title track, Josh Turner’s fourth effort settles nicely into the traditional country groove fans have come to love. With a despondent-sounding piano, lonely slide guitar and Turner’s deep voice, “Cold Shoulder” sounds like a classic tear-in-my-beer country song from days gone by. “Pallbearer,” which features Iris DeMent’s haunting vocals and Marty Stuart’s mourning mandolin, is a stunning left-at-the-altar song that uses bereaved funeral images to make its point. Other highlights: “Whatcha Reckon,” “For the Love of God” and “Left Hand Man.”
See the entire list here.
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