2022 has been a spectacular year for country music, and not only because the Turnpike Troubadours are back in action (although that does help).
During the majority of 2020 and well into 2021, when artists were not able to play live shows, many took the time to focus on their songwriting.
As concerts and festivals started back up again and are now in full swing, artists and bands have found themselves with an abundance of new material to record and release. As a result, tons of new music has been coming out each week throughout 2022.
With well over 50 country albums already that are well worth checking out, there is plenty of new music out there for everyone to find. If you haven’t been keeping up with new releases, here are my 15 favorite albums of the year (and a few honorable mentions) so far to get you started.
As of mid June…
15. Moment of Truth – The Red Clay Strays – 4/29/22
The Alabama band’s debut album, Moment of Truth showcases their southern rock sound and proves they are one of the best young acts in music.
“Moment of Truth”
14. Palomino – Miranda Lambert – 4/29/22
Despite Lambert’s long standing superstardom, she has managed to maintain her iconic sound and stay true to her musical roots, and that is why she is one of the best artists that has hit mainstream fame. The 9th solo album of her career, Palomino is one of her best yet.
“If I Was a Cowboy”
13. The Wilder Blue – The Wilder Blue – 3/25/22
The band’s second album, their self-titled The Wilder Blue leaves no doubt that The Wilder Blue is here to stay. Frontman Zane Williams has been making great music on the Texas scene for years, and I think he’s found something special with The Wilder Blue. This album is proof.
“The Ghost of Lincoln”
“Feelin’ the Miles”
12. True North – Caroline Spence – 4/29/22
A Charlottesville, Virginia native and current Nashville resident, Spence’s fifth album True North is my favorite yet. With distinct, easygoing vocals and a knack for storytelling, Spence is one of the most talented artists in the game.
“Blue Sky Rain”
11. Shot Glass – Randall King – 3/18/22
An up and coming act out of West Texas, King has superstar potential. With music reminiscent of 80s and 90s country classics, he has revived a more traditional sound, which is something country music could use right now. His sophomore album, Shot Glass is a honky tonk masterpiece.
“Middle of Nowhere Church”
10. Anthems – Rob Baird – 5/19/22
A Memphis, Tennessee native who has found a home in the Texas music scene, Baird’s Anthems is one of the best records of his career. With fun, catchy songs that make you want to sing along, as well as more intimate, stripped-down tracks, this album has it all.
9. River Fools and Mountain Saints – Ian Noe – 3/25/22
One of the best up and coming Appalachian artists, Noe’s second album River Fools and Mountain Saints is full of stories and other content that deal with the ups and downs of life in Appalachia.
“Burning Down the Prairie”
8. Glory – Lost Dog Street Band – 1/21/22
Lost Dog Street Band’s 7th album, Glory is a fantastic record that vulnerably addresses lead singer Benjamin Tod’s own experiences with addiction and relationships. One of the most authentic acts out there, LDSB successfully built on their spectacular catalog with this one.
“Cost of the High”
“Fighting Like Hell to Be Free”
7. Baker Hotel – William Clark Green – 3/25/22
One of the best artists in the game since his debut album in 2008, Green’s Baker Hotel is one of his best records yet. The album shows how versatile WCG can be with songs that span between country and rock, and content that goes from lighthearted and clever to heavy and heartfelt. WCG can do it all.
“Gun to Your Head”
“All You Got”
6. Dispatch to 16th Ave. – Muscadine Bloodline – 2/4/22
The Mobile, Alabama duo of Charlie Muncaster and Gary Stanton absolutely killed it with their second album Dispatch to 16th Ave.
A timely and well warranted jab at mainstream country music and the Nashville scene, Muscadine Bloodline keeps it real and stays true to the authentically southern sound that has evolved over the years into something special.
“No, Pedal Steel”
“Dyin’ for a Livin’”
“Dispatch to 16th Ave.”
5. Crooked Tree – Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway – 4/1/22
Not that it ever really went anywhere, but bluegrass seems to be making a comeback, or it is at least growing in popularity. Molly Tuttle and her band Golden Highway are at the forefront of that, and Crooked Tree is a masterpiece of an album.
She has some pretty great features on the album, too.
“Dooley’s Farm” ft. Billy Strings
4. Chicamacomico – American Aquarium – 6/10/22
No band in country music has released such high quality records as prolifically as American Aquarium over the years. A super introspective record full of emotion and passion, Chicamacomico proves why BJ Barham is one of the best songwriters to ever do it. If sad songs make you happy, this is the album for you.
“The Hardest Thing”
“Waking Up the Echoes”
3. What Else Can She Do – Kaitlin Butts – 4/15/22
Everybody knew Kaitlin Butts was bound to release something spectacular at some point, it was just a matter of time. Only her second album, and first since 2015, What Else Can She Do was heavily anticipated and has more than lived up to the hype.
With her dynamic vocals and chilling song content, Butt’s is one of the most underrated acts in all of music, and hopefully this album will change that. Pretty cool that she included the “in the pines” cover, too.
“it won’t always be this way”
“in the pines”
2. Fortune Favors the Bold – 49 Winchester – 5/13/22
The Appalachian soul outfit out of Castlewood, Virginia struck gold with their 4th album Fortune Favors the Bold. Full of driving melodies and clever lyrics, this album is an absolute must-listen from one of the hottest bands in the industry.
With a never ending tour schedule that has included headlining events, festivals, and their current tour supporting Whiskey Myers, these honky tonkers have been quickly gaining momentum throughout the year.
And with this album, they are officially taking the next step in their careers as they settle into their role as one of the best bands in the country music scene.
“Fortune Favors the Bold”
“Russell County Line”
1. American Heartbreak – Zach Bryan – 5/20/22
While he was well on his way prior to 2022, Zach Bryan has officially become a country music superstar this year. Containing 34 songs, his third album is the best work of his young career and has catalyzed his ascent to the top of country music.
In true Zach Bryan fashion, the album features unmatched lyricism and storytelling that will take you on a rollercoaster of emotion, and you’ll enjoy every minute of it.
Not only is American Heartbreak the best album of the year so far, it’s the best album I’ve heard in years.
“Something in the Orange”
Unmasking a Confidence Trickster – Anne Elise Hastings and Her Revolving Cast of Characters
Toward the Fray – Infamous Stringdusters
Wait – Grady Spencer & the Work
Flyin’ High – The Wooks
Raised – Hailey Whitters
Be on the lookout for more new music this summer from Whiskey Myers, Giovannie and the Hired Guns, and many more.