2022 has been a spectacular year for country music, and not just because the Turnpike Troubadours are back in action (although that helps).
For the majority of 2020 and into 2021, when artists were unable to play live shows, many took time off to focus on their songwriting.
As concerts and festivals have resumed and are 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 is releasing every week throughout 2022.
With over 50 country albums already worth checking out, there’s plenty of new music for everyone to discover. If you haven’t been keeping up with the new releases, here are my 15 favorite albums of the year (and a few honorable mentions) so far to get you started.
15. moment of truth – The Lost in Red Clay – 04/29/22
The Alabama band’s debut album Moment of Truth showcases their Southern rock sound and proves they’re one of music’s finest young artists.
“I wonder why”
“Moment of Truth”
14. palomino – Miranda Lambert – 04/29/22
Despite Lambert’s longtime stardom, she’s managed to maintain her iconic sound and stay true to her musical roots, and that’s why she’s one of the best artists to achieve mainstream fame. The 9th solo album of his career, Palomino is one of his best to date.
“If I Were a Cowboy”
13. wild blue – Wild Blue – 03/25/22
The band’s second album, their self-titled wild 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 found something special with The Wilder Blue. This album is proof of that.
“Feel the Miles”
12. True North – Caroline Spence – 04/29/22
Hailing from Charlottesville, Virginia and current resident of Nashville, Spence’s fifth album True North is my favorite so far. With a distinct, laid-back voice and a knack for storytelling, Spence is one of the most talented performers in gaming.
“Blue Sky Rain”
11. shot glass – Randall King – 03/18/22
A promising act from West Texas, King has superstar potential. With music reminiscent of 80s and 90s country classics, he revived a more traditional sound, something country music could use right now. His second album, shot glass is a honky tonk masterpiece.
“Church in the Middle of Nowhere”
ten. hymns – Rob Baird – 05/19/22
Originally from Memphis, Tennessee, who found his place in the Texas music scene, Baird’s hymns is one of the best albums of his career. With fun and catchy songs that make you want to sing along, as well as more intimate and stripped down tracks, this album has it all.
9. Fools of the River and Saints of the Mountain – Ian Noe – 03/25/22
One of Appalachia’s finest up-and-coming artists, Noe’s second album Fools of the River and Saints of the Mountain is full of stories and other content that deals with the ups and downs of life in Appalachia.
“Burn the Meadow”
8. Glory – Street band Lost Dog – 01/21/22
The 7th album of the Lost Dog Street Band, Glory is a fantastic record that vulnerably addresses singer Benjamin Tod’s own experiences with addiction and relationships. One of the most authentic bands on the market, LDSB have managed to develop their spectacular catalog with this one.
“Fight like hell to be free”
seven. Hotel Baker – William Clark Green – 3/25/22
One of the best artists in the game since his 2008 debut album, Green’s Hotel Baker is one of his best records to date. The album shows just how versatile WCG can be with songs that swing between country and rock, and content that ranges from light and smart to heavy and heartfelt. WCG can do it all.
“Gun to the Head”
“All You Got”
6. Shipping to 16th Ave. – Muscadine lineage – 04/02/22
The Mobile, Alabama duo of Charlie Muncaster and Gary Stanton absolutely killed it with their second album Shipping to 16th Ave.
A timely and well-justified jab at traditional country music and the Nashville scene, Muscadine Bloodline stays real and stays true to the authentically Southern sound that has evolved over the years into something special.
“No, Pedal Steel”
“Die to Live”
“Expedition to 16th Avenue.”
5. twisted tree – Molly Tuttle and Golden Highway – 04/01/22
Not that it’s ever really gone anywhere, but bluegrass seems to be making a comeback, or at least gaining popularity. Molly Tuttle and her band Golden Highway are at the forefront of this, and twisted tree is a one-album masterpiece.
She also has very good features on the album.
“Dooley’s Farm” featuring Billy Strings
4. Chicamacomique – American Aquarium – 06/10/22
No country music group has released records of such quality as prolifically as American Aquarium over the years. A super introspective record full of emotion and passion, Chicamacomique proves why BJ Barham is one of the best songwriters ever. If sad songs make you happy, this album is for you.
“The Hardest Thing”
“Waking the Echoes”
3. What else can she do – Kaitlin Butts – 04/15/22
Everyone knew Kaitlin Butts had to release something spectacular at some point, it was only a matter of time. Only his second album, and the first since 2015, What else can she do was highly anticipated and more than lived up to the hype.
With their dynamic vocals and chilling song content, Butt’s are one of the most underrated bands in all of music, and I hope this album changes that. It’s pretty cool that she included the “in the pines” cover as well.
“It won’t always be like this”
“in the pines”
2. Fortune favors the brave – 49 Winchester – 05/13/22
Appalachian soul band from Castlewood, Virginia strike gold with their 4th album Fortune favors the brave. Filled with catchy melodies and clever lyrics, this album is a staple from one of the hottest bands in the industry.
With an endless touring schedule that included headlining events, festivals, and their current tour supporting Whiskey Myers, these honky tonkers quickly picked up steam throughout the year.
And with this album, they officially take the next step in their career, settling into their role as one of the top bands in the country music scene.
“Fortune favors the brave”
“Russell County Line”
1. American grief – Zach Bryan – 05/20/22
While he was well on his way to 2022, Zach Bryan officially became a country music superstar this year. Containing 34 songs, his third album is the best work of his young career and has catalyzed his rise to the top of country music.
In true Zach Bryan fashion, the album features unparalleled lyricism and storytelling that will take you on a roller coaster of emotions, 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 Trusted Scammer – Anne Elise Hastings and Her Revolving Cast of Characters
Towards the fray – Infamous Stringdusters
Wait – Grady Spencer and the Job
Fly High – The Wooks
High – Hailey Whitters
Look out for new music this summer from Whiskey Myers, Giovannie and the Hired Guns, and more.