It’s almost the end of June, which means we’re halfway through 2018. And as time continues apace, so does the release of country music records. There have been a lot of releases so far this year, but since we’re nearing 2018’s midpoint, it’s time to take stock of what country music has brought us.
I started this tradition two years ago, with a power ranking of the best country albums of the first six months of 2016, continuing the list at the end of the year with more conclusive thoughts, and again in 2017, both at the mid-year mark and at the end of the year.
All of the albums below are proof that good country music does still exist. You’re just not likely to find it on the radio. For some of them, you might have seen them right here in Austin.
What’s more, a lot of these albums are more than the sum of their parts. There are a lot of selections here that embody the term "album," meaning, these collections of songs have themes to them. They’re more than empty houses for sparse radio singles.
More online: Nominate your favorite people and places in Austin for the Best of the Best Awards
As with last year, keep in mind that this list isn’t conclusive and only includes albums I’ve actually listened to in full. This year especially has been a huge year for country music releases, and I’m still working my way through a lot of them.
And there’s still plenty to look forward to before the end of December. Lori McKenna, Amanda Shires, Cody Jinks, Dwight Yoakam, Corey Smith, and Jamey Johnson, have all released new music or are working on new albums to be released by the end of 2018.
If you think I missed anything, let me know here, through email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @jakeharris4.
10. "Solid Ground," Wade Bowen
The latest from the Texas country star combines all of the sounds of Texas music to make a "sonic concept album." You’ll find Red Dirt, country, mariachi, Tejano and rock ‘n’ roll sounds mixed throughout, and Bowen manages to steer the band down the right path without ever losing track.
More: At the Mohawk, Wade Bowen shows that Texas country is bigger than any one style
Favorite Song: The Latin-tinged "Acuña" is an ode to the Texas dancehalls of yesteryear that will make you want tog et up and dance.]]