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EF Country’s Top 10 albums of 2017

Find out what our favourite albums of the year are.

Lindsay Ell, Walker Hayes and Carly Pearce
Credit: BBR / Sony / Big Machine

As 2017 almost reaches its end, we wanted to round up the 10 albums that we’ve not taken off our stereo since their release.

There have been a lot of releases this year and with streaming over taking every other music format, there’s more choice than ever before. We’ve been listening to as many releases as we can this year and it’s been really tough narrowing them down to only 10.

An honourable mention goes to Chris Stapleton who released From a Room Volumes 1 and 2 in 2017. Both were excellent albums but he’s narrowly missed a place on our Top 10.

Find out who did make the cut by reading on…

 

10. Brett Young – Brett Young

 

One of the biggest breakout commercial successes of the year, Brett Young fired out a debut album that was confident, catchy and most importantly respectful. Young has been credited with putting the class back into Country music and his songs treat women with respect. There’s no bro-country in sight and Young’s phenomenal voice is as welcome as sunshine on a summer’s day.

Standout tracks: In Case You Didn’t Know, Left Side Of Leavin’, Mercy

 

9. Charlie Worsham – Beginning of Things

 

Fans waited patiently for Worsham to follow-up Rubberband and he didn’t disappoint with Beginning of Things. A more mature effort than his debut, Worsham embraced his own sound and followed his gut. The end result is an accomplished body of work that marks Worsham out as one of the most underrated artists in Country music right now.

Standout tracks: Please People Please, Southern By the Grace of God, Call You Up

 

8. High Valley – Dear Life

 

For the nitpickers reading this, High Valley’s album was released in the UK in 2017 not 2016 like the US and Canada. That qualifies it for inclusion in this list and what a major label debut it was. Brothers Curtis and Brad have been honing their craft for years but they really found their feet on Dear Life. The collection took their signature sound and gave it a more radio-friendly sheen, which resulted in a cohesive and addictive record.

Standout tracks: Dear Life, Make You Mine, I Be U Be

 

7. Sara Evans – Words

 

What kind of world do we live in where Sara Evans releases her best record in years and it goes by with very little fanfare? Words is a solid collection that reminds you of what a force Evans is as both a singer and a songwriter. Sonically rich, frequently bold and never boring, Words deserves to be one of the best-selling albums of 2017 and should have catapulted Evans back to the forefront of Country music.

Standout tracks: Marquee Sign, All the Love You Left Me, Words

 

6. Lindsay Ell – The Project

 

Women have been getting an unfairly tough time at Country radio and no one knows that better this year than Lindsay Ell. Despite releasing one of the best debut albums in years, Ell has struggled to get radio play but that hasn’t dampened her fighter’s spirit. The Project is a killer collection of intricate guitar riffs (played by Ell), clever lyrics and powerful rhythms. Ell is kicking ass and taking names, even without the support of radio, making her achievements even more impressive.

Standout tracks: Waiting On You, Champagne, Space

 

5. Walker Hayes – boom.

 

This one is sure to prove controversial but that’s why it deserves a place on our Top 10. Walker Hayes’ road to success has been anything but smooth but now he’s riding high thanks to You Broke Up With Me. boom. is his long-awaited debut album and with Shane McAnally at the helm, it’s a collection of off-beat and unique songs with a surprisingly personal edge. Anyone who says this isn’t Country, needs to expand their understanding of the genre and acknowledge that Hayes is pushing it in a refreshing direction.

Standout tracks: You Broke Up With Me, Beer in the Fridge, Craig

 

4. Jillian Jacqueline – Side A

 

Technically it’s not an album but Jillian Jacqueline’s Side A is one of the best releases of the year. At 9 songs long (6 studio tracks and 3 acoustic numbers), Side A is so impressive we had to include it here. Jacqueline is one of the boldest songwriters to emerge in 2017 and her hard work is really starting to pay off. Frequently catching fans off-guard with her chameleon-like abilities, Jacqueline is destined for greater things and this is an impressive start.

Standout tracks: Reasons, Bleachers, Hate Me

 

3. Sam Outlaw – Tenderheart

 

How is Sam Outlaw not one of the biggest artists in Country music? Like seriously, how is that not the case? A regular on the live circuit here in the UK, Outlaw released the incredible Tenderheart earlier this year. It’s one of those albums you need to live with for a while but once you unlock its magic, you realise he’s a genius. Also we’re living for that amazing cover!

Standout tracks: Bottomless Mimosas, Trouble, Diamond Ring

 

2. Midland – On the Rocks

 

Midland proved that there was much more to them than Drinkin’ Problem when they released their debut album On the Rocks. Despite a ridiculous debate around the authenticity of the band (we were bored by that debate seconds after it started), Midland delivered the most traditional Country debut of the year. Combining old-fashioned story-telling with a commercial edge that gave them a place on radio, Midland wear their influences on their sleeve and they are incredible to witness live.

Standout tracks: Make a Little, Drinkin’ Problem, More Than a Fever

 

1. Carly Pearce – Every Little Thing

 

From the first time we heard it, Carly Pearce’s debut album has been a favourite. We were dubious she could top the title track but once you listen to the album and realise Every Little Thing isn’t even close to being the best song, you know this is something special. Pearce shows every side to her personality, packs an emotional punch and delivered the best album of the year. She’s going to be huge in 2018.

Standout tracks: Hide the Wine, Every Little Thing, Feel Somethin’

 

Which albums have you been loving this year? Let us know by leaving a comment in the usual place…

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