Best Roots Music Albums of 2017

December 27, 2017 | By

Our pick, at #FolkNRoots Radio, for Roots Music Album of the Year is:

The Nashville Sound – Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit

This is one of those all too rare records that hits the listener hard from the first listen to the first track, and doesn’t let up until the final song has faded.

White Man’s World and If We Were Vampires are the brilliant touchstones of the opposite poles of Isbell’s songwriting. One is a song in which the singer calls out racism and sexism while taking full responsibility for his own past sins of white, male privilege. The other, quite simply, is one of the great and honest love songs of the generation.

As great as those two songs are, however, none of the other tracks fall far short of the standard they set.

Anxiety, is a brilliant cry from the heart of someone who suffers that particular affliction.

Last of My Kind, is a finely detailed description of alienation in a foreign culture, right in one’s own homeland.

Molotov is another terrific Isbell love song, full of detail and the certainty that love can change a life, while Chaos and Clothes is a backward look at love gone off the rails.

The production on the record by Dave Cobb is superb, as always, and the listening pleasure is heightened by the fact that the recording of this album was very nearly a pure “live off the floor” event.

So that’s our pick for #1 Album of the Year.

Here are the rest of our Top Twelve, listed alphabetically by artist name. They come from all over the roots music spectrum, some are the work of well known artists, some from relative unknowns, and one, Alex Williams’ Better Than Myself, is a really remarkable debut release.

Better Than Myself – Alex Williams

Stand Out Tracks : Freak Flag and Week Without a Drink

Amanda Anne Platt & the Honeycutters – Amanda Anne Platt & The Honeycutters 

Stand Out Tracks: Eden and Learning How to Love Him

Small Believer – Anna Tivel

Stand Out Tracks : Illinois and Dark Chandelier

Wrangled – Angaleena Presley 

Stand Out Tracks : Bless My Heart and High School

Love Rides A Dark Horse – Gill Landry

Stand Out Tracks : The Woman You Are and The Only Game In Town

Big Bad Luv – John Moreland

Stand Out Tracks : Slow Down Easy and Lies I Chose To Believe

The Lonely The Lonesome & The Gone – Lee Ann Womack

Stand Out Tracks : Wicked and Bottom of The Barrel

Trinity Lane – Lilly Hiatt 

Stand Out Tracks : Trinity and All Kinds of People

Freedom Highway – Rhiannon Giddens

Stand Out Tracks : At The Purchaser’s Option and Birmingham Sunday

Close Ties – Rodney Crowell (Official)

Stand Out Tracks : It Ain’t Over Yet and I Don’t Care Anymore (and every other track on the album)

Every Soul’s A Sailor – Stephen Fearing

Stand Out Tracks : Red Lights In The Rain and Carousel


Finally, here are ten Honourable Mentions, if you will. Each one of them a demonstration of the depth and breadth of great roots music which was released this year.

Turmoil & Tinfoil – Billy Strings American Flowers – Birds of Chicago The Soul and The Heal – Gurf Morlix Music All American Mutt – Jamie Kent Uneven Ground – Lynne Hanson In Times Like These – Rev. Sekou Black Irish – Shannon McNally Music You Don’t Own Me Anymore – The Secret Sisters Purgatory – Tyler Childers Anchors – Will Hoge

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Category: Special Features

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