Saving Country Music's 2022 Album of the Year Nominees –

It is the time of year when we try our best to go through all the titles released in country music in this year, and attempt to asses what we think will withstand the test of time and define 2022. This is never an easy task, and is not as much about turning art into competition as it is an exercise to allow us all to share what we believe is the “best” for the benefit of everyone.

2022 is a very unique year when it comes to albums to consider, since there are no clear front runners as we’re used to. No specific album or albums feel like undeniable masterpieces, but the albums at or near the top of the heap are so numerous, it’s painstakingly hard to delineate them from each other.

As always, your feedback isn’t just requested, it will be considered in the final calculations. So if you have an opinion, please leave it below in the comments, including your list of top records if you wish. However, this is not a straight up and down vote. Your opinion will count, but it will count even more if you put the effort out to convince us all why one album deserves to be considered above the others.

And please, no “You Forgot!” comments. If you think something has been unfairly omitted, utilize the comments section to inform us. Also, please understand that there will be an upcoming Essential Albums list that will be much broader, and might include your favorites, including the “Most Essential Albums” that were right on the bubble of being considered here (see bottom). With how tight things were in 2022, the differences between these albums and the Album of the Year nominees is razor thin.

Also understand this is just the very start of the end-of-year assessments at Saving Country Music. The Song of the Year nominees for the first time have no overlap with the Album of the Year nominees. There will also be Single of the Year, and many other end-of-year considerations, as well as more albums reviewed from 2022 going into the early portions of 2023.

But right now, it’s time to highlight the 11 albums Saving Country Music feels cannot go overlooked in 2022.
Congratulations, you have just stumbled upon your next favorite country band, and your next favorite country album. From Houston, TX, The Broken Spokes are a beloved local and regional traditional country outfit with a name synonymous with country due to the famous honky tonk in Austin. But having focused solely on live shows henceforth as opposed to aspiring for some sort of national attention, The Broken Spokes are also the best band you’ve never heard of. They’re looking to change that with their debut album Where I Went Wrong.

This thing is so damn good. If you needed to select a country music album to shoot into outer space to represent country music to other civilizations, or bury in a vault so when humans blow themselves to smithereens there’s something to repopulate country music with, Where I Went Wrong would not be a bad candidate. It’s that virtuous, that country, and truly flawless in its execution where there’s not one sour note, one bad turn of phrase, one weak song, or flat solo. Everything here is *chef kiss* excellent cover to cover. (read review)
Fans of Kaitlin Butts have been waiting like patience on a monument for a new album, with a full seven years since the release of her debut record Same Hell, Different Devil ticking by. That was unlikely Kaitlin’s plan either. One of the scandalously few women somewhat successfully making it in the Texas/Red Dirt scene, you’ll see her name on festival posters, and perhaps on the stage with her husband Cleto Cordero of Flatland Cavalry, or hear her voice on some recordings from others. But maybe the release of What Else Can She Do? will finally be her moment. Taking a critical assessment of the record, it’s hard to argue why it shouldn’t be.

Fundamentally country, but imaginative in scope through some of the sonic landscapes brought to bear by producer Oran Thornton to bring the moodiness of the album to life, it’s fair to question if What Else Can She Do? ends too soon. But this album for isn’t an ending for Kaitlin Butts. It’s just a beginning. And hopefully, just like the characters of this album, Kaitlin Butts is commencing a period in her career where a new leaf is turned, and she finally receives the attention and recognition attentive country fans have known she’s deserved for years. (read review)
Molly Tuttle is one of the greatest guitar players of this current generation from any genre, and has the IBMA Awards to back it up. She’s also one of the fundamental reasons for the resurgence in interest in bluegrass we’re currently experiencing, spirited off the back of young performers like Molly invigorating the music with new life, and new blood.

Crooked Tree is Molly Tuttle going, “Oh, you want a bluegrass album? We’ll then here you go …” and then melting faces in 13 straight original tracks that embrace many bluegrass traditions, while still offering a uniqueness of perspective, and a personal connection to Molly. There’s also some really great bluegrass instrumentation, and some tantalizing collaborations.

Still, don’t get stuck on the idea that all of Molly Tuttle’s albums henceforth will be bluegrass too. As she tells us in Crooked Tree, she’s not fit for the mill machine. She will follow her heart, not the herd. But for right now, Molly Tuttle is at home in bluegrass with her band Golden Highway, and we’re all 100% here for it. (read review)
Simply put, Neon Blue is a blast of a listen. It’s not just the nostalgic joy you get from songs like “Neon Blue” and “Broke Again” that come straight out of the Alan Jackson and Brooks & Dunn era, it’s the type of simple, almost innocent sentimentality found in the writing of songs like “Free” and “Found in a Bar” that bring an immediate fondness to this music touched by memory and just a hint of melancholy.

And though the 90s had a distinct sound that was born off the picking of guys like guitar player Brent Mason and steel player Paul Franklin, it was also the last era when you’d hear a country song that sounded like it could have been written many years previous. So when it comes to songwriting, “90s country” really encapsulates a much broader era of influence.

Deeply studied and truly gifted to express the host of styles that comprise the broad and omnivorous 90s country era, Joshua Hedley has made himself into a modern country marvel, capable of taking up any piece of music from any country music era, and making it sing. (read review)
The album came together over a week long songwriting retreat at a cabin just outside of Nashville. It was composed around the characters of a fictional town named after the influential songwriter Dennis Linde, who penned such gems as “Bubba Shot The Jukebox” by Mark Chesnutt and “Goodbye Earl” by the [Dixie] Chicks. For the male characters, songwriters Aaron Raiterie, Benjy Davis, and T.J. Osborne step up to sing lead, just as Brandy Clark, Caylee Hammack, and Pillbox Patti do as well. John Osborne of Brothers Osborne was the producer of the album.

Lindeville is one of those albums that will go on to define a more compelling and atypical career from an artist that is helping to break the mold of what we can expect from major label country. Incidentally, it also helps highlight some important songwriters. But perhaps most importantly, Ashley McBryde’s Lindeville symbolizes that we may be entering an era when artists are allowed opportunities to do things that disrupt the regular rhythms of music production instead of only adhering to them. And that is exciting. (read review)
Who knows what motivates the musical gluttons for punishment who like to push the envelope of emotional roiling and upheaval so far that it nearly veers into the realm of outright masochism? But in American roots music, the need to satisfy ever-increasing appetites for more gut punching and ventricle-tugging moments will lead you right to the well of Kentucky’s Ian Noe as one of the few if only sources to quench that insatiable thirst.

Ian Noe is a master craftsman of character and setting, manifesting men and women that feel as real as rain in the mind’s eye, and casting them in scenarios that make you materially and emotionally invested in them, all within a three minute interval. No, Ian Noe is not part of the Kentucky country music resurgence alongside Tyler Childers, Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson and others trying to challenge the mainstream and re-instill it with some meaningful substance. He’s too pure for all that nonsense. He’s for those who want to dig even deeper, and get down to the kernel of sincere emotions that the best of songwriters mine. (read review)
Drake Milligan did not win America’s Got Talent. He came in third. Apparently he was good enough to compete and make it to the final, but was too good to win. That’s how you know he’s real. The consolation prize is an excellent new 14 song album called Dallas/Fort Worth, and it’s way better and more meaningful then any silly talent competition trophy. Super country and twangy, with good songwriting and that little dash of swagger from Drake’s Elvis influence, it’s everything you were hoping Drake Milligan’s full-length debut album would be.

Completely co-written by Milligan, sung exquisitely in a voice that is both classic and unique, and named after his hometown region, Dallas/Fort Worth gives you lots of reasons to be hopeful for the present and the future of country music, as long as Drake Milligan is involved in it. (read review)
Unflinchingly offering brutal dispatches from the most downtrodden and desperate moments of life, Arlo McKinley delivers one body blow after another in songs that are brutally articulate about the level of depression and despondency suffered, yet are poetic in how they’re expressed as to foster empathy, camaraderie, and hopefully, understanding. The underlying philosophy is that being honest and unburdening about his own issues with loss and pain will help construct an avenue for healing in those suffering a similar fate. It’s the “sad songs make me happy” mantra, taken to its ultimate apex.

Written after a period when McKinley lost his mother and best friend, and witnessed some other close friends succumb to addiction, Arlo isn’t participating in cosplay when he writes and sings about such weighty and emotional matters. We’re living amid a Renaissance of songwriters sharing their deeply troubling and distinctly American experiences. Arlo McKinley isn’t just one of many, he’s one of the few elite. This Mess We’re In validates this assessment. (read review)
Born and raised in Nashville, Gabe Lee has a greater birthright to making music in Nashville than most, and an authenticity others fail to muster. Most importantly though, Gabe Lee doesn’t just have a penchant for wanting to make music for a living, he has that poet’s heart, a keen sense of observation, an incredible voice for conveying emotion with an enviable level of expressionism and control, and the capability to put it all together in a way that has some professing him as a premier talent of our time. Those people might not be entirely wrong.

The songs that impact us the most are the ones that seem to eerily dictate our life experiences in the verses and chorus, set to the sounds that feel as familiar to us as the rhythms and landmarks of our hometown. We all have a hometown that remains static in our history no matter where life takes us, and how far flung we go, or how we feel about it. Gabe Lee’s happens to be Nashville, and we may have never heard about him, and he may have never pursued music if it wasn’t. But it’s how all of our hometowns are so elemental to who we are that Gabe Lee explores so eloquently in The Hometown Kid. (read review)
What a gorgeous record this is, fleshed out with new original songs from Willie himself and others, and a few obvious covers released for posterity. A Beautiful Time was constructed like all country albums should be: start with whatever worthy original new songs the performer can muster, and then canvas country music’s rich population of career songwriters to find other stuff that’s worthy of wide attention, and fits the style and voice of the singer.

We’re so used to the law of diminishing returns being the rule when it comes to our favorite artists in music. But Willie Nelson is the exception. With now a host of his late career records—and A Beautiful Time being perhaps the best example of all—Willie Nelson proves his unparalleled longevity as an artist, and why his music has earned immortality. (read review)
Rattlesnake Milk from the southern plains of Texas is the musical truth. There is every single other artist and band in American music, and then there is Rattlesnake Milk. They are more country than all the other shit kicking bands out there darkening the stoops of the honky tonks. They are more punk than all the pungent-smelling tour vans full of spiked hair and mescaline criss-crossing the fruited plain. They are more surf, mod, and psyc than all the hipster bands strewn between Echo Park and Brooklyn. They are Rattlesnake Milk.

Everything that all the other bands in music frustratingly whiff on, Rattlesnake Milk hits dead center. With a simplified four-piece lineup, and no desire to elicit help from guest performers or overdubs, Rattlesnake Milk accomplishes with so little what so many other bands fail to accomplish with so much more. Burrowing down to the very kernel of soul and feeling, and leaving everything else to the side, they are an underground version of musical mastery. (read review)
Welcome ladies and gentlemen to an entirely new era in the effort to upstage the powers that be in country music, and return the control back to the artists and fans, while simultaneously returning the soul and heart back to the songs. It was a charge first taken up by the Outlaws in the 70s, reignited by Hank Williams III and independent labels like Bloodshot Records in the 90’s, championed later by Sturgill Simpson, then brought to an entirely new level by artists like Cody Jinks, Tyler Childers, and others.

But now it’s a “viral songwriter”—a new designation we’ve had to add to the lexicon—that has gone from messing around in an AirBNB recording amateur songs with his friends, to a guy that has become one of the hottest names in popular music with American Heartbreak.

We can’t judge any of this in the present tense. It’s too fresh, too unusual, there are too many songs to ingest, and the moments are too emotional. Unquestionably though, discounting or casting off Zach Bryan and the phenomenon surrounding him as some some sort of illusion, something insincere, or something not destined to stick in the long-term has already proven to be folly. It is very much real and reverberative, and all that any of us can do is wait to see how this all evolves. What we do know is that it’s going to be big. And probably, very big.

UPDATE: It was.

(read review)
(These were albums right on the bubble of being considered for Album of the Year that will be the top picks on the upcoming Essential Albums List.)

Rob Marshall
December 6, 2022 @ 8:47 am
In my experience, I think when it comes to deciding on complete albums; all songs in the album should be incredible and not just one or two. If anyone has taken the time to listen to ‘The Broken Spokes’ all of their songs are absolutely incredible. They belong in a Quentin Tarantino Movie they are that good. We had the privilege of seeing them win the Texas Country Music Swing Band of the Year for 2022 in Fort Worth a few weeks ago. This band is on a bullet train to stardom and they’re bringing their fans along for the ride.
49 Winchester Fan
December 6, 2022 @ 4:18 pm
49 Winchester is blowing up. The album was high as number four on the billboards and has been ranked the second best album of the year by at least two different publications. 2022 has been big but 2023 will skyrocket them.
Jane Rhea
December 6, 2022 @ 8:47 pm
49 Winchester is coming up strong! As they say fortune favors the bold and that is so true!! This group has a unique sound that resonates throughout their style of music! They keep us coming back for more! 49 Winchester is moving like a freight train, be ready, and enjoy the ride!!
December 19, 2022 @ 7:36 am
Commenting on this strictly to bring Rattlesnake Milk’s stellar Chicken Fried Snake some visibility at the top of the comments section.
Go give it a listen, y’all.
December 28, 2022 @ 4:23 pm
I think Drake Milligan’s “Dallas/Fort Worth” album deserves an award for best country album of 2022. Every song is a potential chart topper. They are all so
exceptional that you would not believe a 24 year old newcomer wrote/ co-wrote them. The radio needs to give Drake’s work more exposure. Some great traditional country songs on the album. We need that!
December 6, 2022 @ 8:49 am
Sad to see “I’ll Tell You What’s Gonna Happen” miss out on a nomination. Of the nominees, I think Kaitlin Butts has the edge.
Jan Beare
December 6, 2022 @ 9:50 am
Love their music, best band ever!
December 6, 2022 @ 11:02 am
I love you Trig but I think it’s criminal that Cody Christian’s “Canary in a Coalmine” gets completely glossed over by this website and this list. That record is solid gold
December 6, 2022 @ 11:24 am
One of the reasons that I do this exercise is to query the public to see what others think the best albums of a given year are and to fill my own holes. I can’t speak for others, but I never “gloss over” anything, or “snub” it unless I write a negative review for it. There are 500+ albums coming out every year in country and roots music, and I can’t cover them all. But I do my best to cover as many as I can, and give resources to readers to be exposed to the rest.
I appreciate the suggestion of Cody Christian, and I will check it out.
December 6, 2022 @ 12:27 pm
I just think you and the SCM community would love this record!!!
December 7, 2022 @ 12:53 pm
Thank you for recommending. I am really enjoying this album.
December 6, 2022 @ 9:14 pm
Oh shit, did I miss a Cody for the Alll-the-Codies” playlist? Apparently I did. Boy are there a lot of them singing country music :
Jerry Clower’s Ghost
December 6, 2022 @ 9:51 pm
The word snub just means to get passed over for recognition. The only time I’ve ever heard it used is when a person who is generally perceived to be worthy of an award doesn’t get nominated and/or win the award. I’m aware that you gave a glowing review for the albums by Kelsey Waldon and The Kernal, and Goodnight, TX just hasn’t entered your heart yet. Using the word snub isn’t a knock on your skills, or a criticism, or anything like that. It’s just a difference of opinion. I probably get too excited about these honors, because I hope for my favorite artists to get recognized. Sorry.
December 7, 2022 @ 8:34 am
“Cody Christians Canary in a Coalmine” goddamn, say that 5 times fast
December 6, 2022 @ 11:03 am
Ian Noe is a great songwriter and the most unique. He really takes you on a trip when you listen to his stories. The rest were good to but I don’t think anything Extra special. I love Kaitlyn Butts just didn’t love her album and Gabe Lee is great too. Thanks for showing us so many great albums
December 6, 2022 @ 11:16 am
It’s the Broken Spokes for me. I can’t stop spinning it. I like all of the other records up for consideration, but the Spokes have gotten way more plays from me. Soooo good.
December 6, 2022 @ 11:57 am
My top 3:
Ian Noe – River Fools and Mountain Saints
Kaitlin Butts – What Else Can She Do
Ashley McBryde – Ashley McBryde Presents: Lindeville
December 6, 2022 @ 12:59 pm
My top 10
Ashley McBryde presents Lindeville
Amanda Shires ~ Take It Like A Man
Whiskey Myers ~ Tornillo
American Aquarium ~ Chicamacomico
49 Winchester ~ Fortune Favors The Bold
Ian Noe ~ River Fools and Mountain Saints.
Sarah Shook and the Disarmers ~ Nightroamer
Shovels and Rope ~ Manticore
Arlo McKinley ~ This Mess We’re In
The Delines ~ The Sea Drift.
December 6, 2022 @ 1:10 pm
The Broken Spokes has my vote! Love their music and they’re good people! They are very deserving of the 2022 Album of the year award! Go Spokes!
December 6, 2022 @ 1:49 pm
Solid list. Head to head, I’d rank Lainey Wilson’s Bell Bottom Country and Sunny Sweeney’s Married Alone above the Ashley McBryde mix tape. Lindeville is fun and refreshing in its casual presentation but the songwriting, performances and production on Wilson and Sweeney’s albums are tops.
Of the 11 nominees, I’d give the nod to Lindeville with River Fools and Mountain Saints a close second.
December 6, 2022 @ 2:00 pm
49 Winchester feels like an easy pick for a lot of year end lists. What a great overall record.
Ian Noe stands out. He’ll win some awards.
Kaitlin Butts new stuff is all incredible. On repeat.
And a couple of artists I discovered here really surprised me with the quality of their releases.
Memphis Kee’s country rock record was catchy and interesting.
Emily Nenni’s release is equal parts classic and modern. A great mix from beginning to end.
December 6, 2022 @ 2:16 pm
If you haven’t listened to this band you are missing out! Check them out! That get my vote!
December 6, 2022 @ 2:22 pm
I haven’t (but plan to) listened to everything on your list yet, but here are the 5 country-enough records I reached for the most so far this year:
Emily Rose & The Rounders – S/T
Plains – I Walked with You Always
Delines – Sea Drift
Ian Noe – River Fools and Mountain Saints
Molly Tuttle – Crooked Tree
And 1 big stretch:
MJ Lenderman – Boat Songs (on the strength of “You Have Bought Yourself a Boat”, alone)
Hangover Game
December 6, 2022 @ 2:49 pm
Definitely a big stretch for this list, but a solid recommendation for fans of good fun songwriting. Borrows heavily from Jason Molina/ Magnolia Elec Co. for sure. Lenderman is my favorite new music discovery of the year.
December 6, 2022 @ 8:28 pm
It might be mine, too. That one and the Plains record were surprises, both are very well-crafted, complete statements in different ways.
Lucinda Chilliams
December 22, 2022 @ 8:08 am
Yes! I saw them opening for Plains, and to be perfectly honest, MJ Lenderman and his band (featuring the genius producer Brad Cook) totally blew it away compared to the headling act. The pedal steel was amazing, sounded a good deal better and fuller than the recorded album (which I still enjoyed immensely, one of my favorites this year for sure).
Dave Watkins
December 22, 2022 @ 2:14 pm
Thanks for the mention of Plains.
I followed my nose to their Bandcamp page and loved it. And bought it!
December 6, 2022 @ 2:40 pm
Hank Williams Jr. / Rich White Honky Blues
December 6, 2022 @ 4:15 pm
Drake Milligan Dallas Fort Worth has my vote. He played on AGT. Check him out.
Kathy Brown
December 6, 2022 @ 4:28 pm
Drake Milligan gets my vote. Every song on Dallas/Fort Worth is awesome. Drake is a very talented songwriter and he has an incredible voice. My entire family loves Dallas/Fort Worth.
December 6, 2022 @ 4:52 pm
Drake Milligan’s Dallas/Fort Worth gets my vote. He not only has a great voice, immeasurable charm, incredible talent and is very humble. Very few artists have the ability to write (or co-write, and he always gives credit to his co-writers) every song on the album and not just ten songs but fourteen new songs! He deserves the accolades.
Peter Bootsman
December 6, 2022 @ 5:23 pm
Orville Peck – Broncois my no1.
Judy Thompson
December 6, 2022 @ 6:25 pm
Drake Milligan’s Dallas/Fort Worth album is the only music on my playlist since it came out. I absolutely LOVE his music, his style and his personality. He has put an iconic band together that works so smoothly and perfectly with his style! I never listened to country music much til Drake came along!
December 6, 2022 @ 6:28 pm
Drake Milligan he is a breath of fresh air his songs tell a story which can be relatable.
His fan base consists of all ages and not only can he sing he also writes and acknowledges those that co-wrote with him. Him and his band put on a great performance and keeps the audience ready for more. I have seen him in a few interviews and he is very a knowledgeable
when he talks about artists like George Strait, Allen Jackson and the list goes on. Personally I
feel as though he deserves to be chosen for album of the year. That is just the beginning of bringing old country back.
Arlene DeJesus
December 6, 2022 @ 6:38 pm
Dallas/Ft Worth. Drake Milligan HANDS DOWN. Such a well rounded album. Classic country, country rock. fun & sad. Upbeat & ballads. Drake’s album has something for EVERYBODY! Let’s be honest about diversity! Not the same ‘ol mundane sound of typical country crooners who don’t strive for their own sound bc they just wanna sound straight up ‘ol country. Let’s break the mold. Drake is the best of everything.
December 6, 2022 @ 6:43 pm
I love Drake Milligan! (Dallas/Fort Worth). My mom and I are both seniors and love the old country feel to his music. It is very important to me what a person is like, and not just what he does. Drake seems like a wonderfully rounded, all American guy. He really seems to care about his fans, and his band members. I even saw him once sign an autograph, in the middle of doing a song!
They have such a great time!
December 6, 2022 @ 6:49 pm
49 Winchester is fantastic. These guys have worked their butts off and deserve this and more.
Dana Bradley
December 6, 2022 @ 6:53 pm
Dallas Ft Worth has my vote. Every song is a real true life story that most have experienced and can relate to. A breath of FRESH AIR. Even tho he’s a young’in he’s paid his dues. He’s been at it since he was an 8 yr old child. Earning accolades along the way. Deserved accolades. He’s earned it but most importantly with his Dallas Ft Worth has PROVED IT! Outstanding voice, outstanding Country boy, outstanding performer. Outstanding human being. Drake’s an outstanding lyricist w a precise understanding of melody/music. Skilled is an understatement! And he knows how to pick a band…bc they’re outstanding as well. Neither my Mom nor I were country fans until we heard Drake sing.
December 6, 2022 @ 7:14 pm
Going by your finalists it has to be Arlo McKinley’s “This Mess We’re In”. It is absolutely gut wrenching. 49 Winchester and Benjamin Tod not making the cut hurts but alot of great stuff got released.
December 6, 2022 @ 7:18 pm
Drake Milligan’s Dallas/Fort Worth has my vote!! A fantastic album with the best new country voice in years! ❤
December 6, 2022 @ 7:22 pm
49 Winchester – Fortune Favors the Bold – This album is one of those where, if you’ve never heard the band before, you’ll listen to the whole album, then buy it so you can play it over and over. Then you’ll go check out their older stuff and end up buying all the previous albums too, so that you have ALL the songs on that playlist to enjoy over and over. I’m not a musician, so I won’t even attempt to break down all of the things that make this album (and this band) so, SO good. You’ll just have to listen for yourself. See, it’s like God reached down into Virginia and hand-picked every guy in this band (“I’ll take THIS one, and THIS one…OH, and this guy will be perfect, too…”), dropped ’em in a room together, and said, “Boys, take all that talent I gave you, and make some music that will prove my existence to the non-believers.” Seriously, every single song on this album says just that. 49 ain’t no joke, y’all.
Scott S.
December 7, 2022 @ 7:08 am
I commented on the review of Fortune Favors the Bold that I felt it was a bit disappointing after their previous album. But I have to admit the album has grown on me since then. Still not as good as III maybe, but definitely a better album than I initially thought. These guys are shaping up to be a great band.
December 6, 2022 @ 7:47 pm
No Charley Crockett? Come on Trig.
December 23, 2022 @ 7:23 pm
He left out Hellbound Glory also who he is a big fan of. Who put out a solid record. Overall he does a great job though. Agree on the Charley Crockett.
Lisa Arthur
December 6, 2022 @ 8:40 pm
Drake Milligan Dallas/Ft worth is great ! Every song is worth listening to. He has really brought that country sound back to country music for me .Have seen him in person twice now once while agt and once after .Nothing had changed about his attitude and for most it would have ..
December 6, 2022 @ 10:01 pm
Drake Milligan’s Dallas/Ft Worth is nothing short of a masterpiece. He co-wrote all the songs, and just has that something in his voice that makes you want to listen, no matter what he’s singing. He’s also a phenomenal performer. He’s all I really want to listen to right now. Can’t wait to hear more from him in the future.
December 7, 2022 @ 12:47 am
If I had to choose an album of the year it would be Drake Milligan’s Dallas/Fort Worth. All 14 songs were co written by Drake and each one could be a stand alone hit.
December 7, 2022 @ 2:38 am
Has SCM been invaded by Drake Milligan bots?
December 7, 2022 @ 8:01 am
Yeah I’m assuming someone posted this in a fan group or something. Just a random burst of all women coming in just to rave about Drake Milligan.
Lucinda Chilliams
December 22, 2022 @ 9:35 am
Kathryn and Mona and Leslie and Lisa and Debi and Diane and Judy and Kathi and Rose and..!!! I mean, points for enthusiasm and the terrific list of country-appropriate female names, regardless of whether they’re all real and unique human beings… lol
Kathryn Redinger
December 7, 2022 @ 4:15 am
Drake Milligan Dallas/FortWorth is the best album to come out in decades. Every song is amazing. Check him out. He has my vote hands down. ❤️
Scott S.
December 7, 2022 @ 7:00 am
When I think of the best albums of the year, I can go only by what albums I spent the most time listening to. Two albums that I spent more time listening to than any others aren’t on this list, and weren’t reviewed here. Those would be Ben Chapman’s Make The Night Better and Pug Johnson and the Hounds’ Throwed Off And Glad. I know Trigger is busy and reviews several albums a year, but these two young bands both put out stellar debut albums, and look to have bright futures.
Not overly excited about any of the finalists.Gabe Lee and Kaitlin Butts probably got the most listening of these from me. Alex Williams’ album from the essentials is currently my favorite. But if it were up to me to choose out of all the albums listed, Kelsey Waldon’s No Regular Dog would have been my choice for her decision to set trends instead of following the currents waves of Americana. She delivered an outstanding album, combining both the best of traditional Country and Americana sounds. Deserving of a finalist spot at minimum in my opinion.
Scott S.
December 7, 2022 @ 7:17 am
Just as a side note: While I’m talking about Ben Chapman, keep a lookout for Ben Chapman band member and singer Meg McCree who has an album coming out soon. She has dropped a few singles from it already. She is a great singer and also provided vocals for Chris Cantabury’s new album Quaalude Lullaby. Another very good album from this year.
December 7, 2022 @ 7:34 am
The broken spokes album!! Great music and great people!!
Rachael Pino
December 7, 2022 @ 11:27 am
The Broken Spokes!! Been listening to “Where I Went Wrong” since August and can’t stop!
Not a skip song on the whole album. “All I Hear You Say” is my fav.
I’ve been lucky enough to see them live a few times this year and they put on such a great show. You know it’s good dance hall music when no one sits down in between songs.
December 7, 2022 @ 11:28 am
It’s American Heartbreak for me. Of the other finalists, I really liked Welcome to Lindeville, Kaitlin Butts and Molly Tuttle. Willie had some great songs too. I thought Gabe Lee, Arlo Mckinley, and Ian Noe’s last albums were better than these.
December 7, 2022 @ 1:39 pm
Zach Bryan had a great year, but for me, “Summertime Blues” was the better and more digestible release. Id put Zach Bryan up as runaway artist of the year for 2022.
Most listened to albums were 49 Winchester and Charley Crockett.
Hands down album of the year was Ian Noe. Nothing had as much staying power, and continued revealing new twists and turns as much as the batch of songs he released this year.
Euro South
December 7, 2022 @ 4:43 pm
1. Angel Olsen – Big Time
2. Arlo McKinley – This Mess We’re In
3. John Fullbright – The Liar
4. Benjamin Tod – Songs I Swore I’d Never Sing
5. Wilco – Cruel Country
6. Ryan Culwell – Run Like a Bull
7. Laura Benitez and the Heartache – California Centuries
8. Caleb Caudle – Forsythia
9. The Red Clay Strays – Moment of Truth
10. Plains – I Walked With You a Ways
11. Ian Noe – River Fools & Mountain Saints
12. Miranda Lambert – Palomino
From the official SCM AOTY nominees list, my vote obviously goes to Arlo McKinley. Arlo is a modern master.
Euro South
December 7, 2022 @ 5:06 pm
Joseph Huber – The Downtowner at number 5 got left out.
December 8, 2022 @ 11:27 pm
Yep. I haven’t listened to many of Trig’s nominations, but I prefer Angel Olsen to those I have.
Euro South
December 9, 2022 @ 3:02 am
You’re the man, Ray! 😉
Dennis Reynolds
December 8, 2022 @ 5:14 am
Though there have been some very good albums released this year, but my number one by a very comfortable margin is Bronco by Orville Peck.
Ted Messer
December 8, 2022 @ 5:45 am
There are a lot of great albums on this but “Jericho” by Tony Logue is a great example of amazing storytelling sung in a great voice give Tony a listen!!
December 8, 2022 @ 8:19 pm
Di Harris
December 9, 2022 @ 2:45 pm
Jenny Tolman, Married In A Honky Tonk.
Janet Crowell
December 9, 2022 @ 11:28 pm
Dallas Ft Worth. Why? Bc Drake Milligan is “SAVING Country Music”. My sister Arlene & nephew Dana told me about Drake’s new album after they went to his show in DelRay Beach. Wowwww! We never cared for country music but boy we sure do now! And if many feel as we do Country Music is saved thx to Drake. His unique sound without even trying to sound country like most do is, writing talents, he’s the total Country package. He’s so well rounded with the rock sound blending w the ‘ol time country sound. Between the yee-haws & the drawls, I mean it’s all there. Whether a tear jerker sad ballad or a sh*t kicker fun dance swinging song he’s got COUNTRY COVERED….all the way N to S. E to W & then some.
Jack W
December 10, 2022 @ 8:36 am
Here’s my ND ballot (top two plus rest in alphabetical order):
Kaitlin Butts – What Else Can She Do
Ian Noe – River Fools and Mountain Saints
Arlo McKinley – The Mess We’re In
Courtney Marie Andrews – Loose Future
John Fullbright – The Liar
Kelsey Waldon – No Regular Dog
Lee Bains + Glory Fires – Old-Time Folks
Melissa Carper – Ramblin’ Soul
Molly Tuttle and Golden Highway – Crooked Tree
S. G. Goodman – Teeth Marks
December 10, 2022 @ 10:17 pm
Bizarre. Am I the only one who loves every nominated album a lot but doesn’t feel any connection to Drake Milligan’s album. Probably because of it’s slightly too polished and clean sound?
No, the real number 1 album is of course Willie Nelson’s. At first listen, it didn’t sound like a masterpiece in my ears, not even after it’s 13th spin. But there’s something very, very addictive to it. I just kept on playing it all year long, just loving it even more and more after each spin. That thrilling voice and phrasing! That guitar playing! Those songs and lyrics!
The true brilliance of the album just lies in the fact that it all sounds so deceptively simple, l guess. Anyway, that’s the reason why it took a while to understand how fantastic this album really is…
Seven months after it’s release it still leaves me with a bigger smile after each spin.
I would also add 1 more album to the list: Hailey Whitters who raised a hell of a party in my head on each spin of her all killer album. Pure joy!
December 12, 2022 @ 1:56 pm
Is is just me, or does Kaitlin Butts sound like what Kacey Musgraves could have been?
December 12, 2022 @ 2:24 pm
Hey Trigger-
Back in 2018 you gave a lot of attention to Caitlyn Smith’s album “Supernova,” but I haven’t seen any coverage of her 2022 release, “High.” Did it just not make much of an impression on you?
December 12, 2022 @ 4:04 pm
I probably need to go back and listen to that one some more. Since 2018, Caitlyn has gotten just a little TOO pop for what I can cover around here. I still think she is one of the good ones, there’s just so much music out there, it’s hard to cover everything.
Jack W
December 13, 2022 @ 10:09 am
That was Starfire that was covered here in 2018. SCM album of the year nominee, I think. I believe Supernova was her next one.
Roberto Trevizan
December 15, 2022 @ 3:08 pm
Joshua Hedley – Neon Blue
December 20, 2022 @ 11:18 pm
For me, it’s Ian Noe and it’s not even close. This is one of the best records I’ve heard in a long time. Very strong from start to finish, powerful songs, arrangements, and vocals. Ballad Of A Retired Man Down, reflecting on the life of one recently lost, with perfectly placed sampling to immediately take you to his place in time. Burning Down The Prairie, written from a Native American perspective with the passion of a driving beat and raving mad, wild-eyed guitar. Road May Flood/It’s A Heartache, Appalachia Haze, Strip Job Blues, Tom Barrett, River Fool, POW Blues – songs of where so many of us come and all can feel. Songs that are better every time you hear them. Odes to his roots and our collective roots. Not long ago I asked, with the passing of so many great writers – who’s gonna write and perform this unique, genuine, Country/Folk/Americana/call it what you will music that will stand forever? Ian Noe will be counted with the greatest. Our grandkids will listen to him – he’s an artist for the ages. Best record of 2022, hell, this is generational stuff.
December 21, 2022 @ 7:52 am
Drake Milligan gets my vote. Fantastic album with such a diverse sound. You have traditional country, rockabilly, and texas swing songs. Album gets better with each listen. I highly recommend it!!
December 23, 2022 @ 7:32 pm
come on folks how does “Something Borrowed, Something New” the John Anderson Tribute not get mentioned.
Kaye Kasparek
December 26, 2022 @ 10:14 am
The Broken Spokes are a true “niche” traditional country music band and this album “Where I went Wrong” truly reflects that. No doubt it is the best! I vote #1!
Mike Kasparek
December 26, 2022 @ 10:19 am
True Blue traditional country is the Broken Spokes “Where I went Wrong” album. #1 in my books.
Sue Armor
December 28, 2022 @ 11:26 pm
Drake Milligan Album Dallas / Fort Worth is number 1 in my opinion. The first album in years that every single song could be a hit and stand alone. Rarely do you find an album with 14 songs and you want to listen to every one. In addition it is all country.
Sally Mohr
December 30, 2022 @ 12:27 pm
Drake Milligan is one of those talents that come around once in a life- time. He represents that true original country sound with a little twist. When you attend his concerts I can assure you you will forget every problem you have. He and his band are soooooo very very talented and I don’t know if you know this but he wrote or co- wrote each song on his album. That my friend is talent, and what is astonishing is he is appealing to the young and those of us who are just young at heart. Drake is our man.
Linda Frerichs
December 30, 2022 @ 1:25 pm
Drake Milligan is a top notch entertainer and Dallas / Forth Worth album resonates that.
He has rekindled country music in a lot of folks and has awaken country music in others.
Drake also has a world wide fan base.
His music has touched young and old alike.
Drake Milligan and his band are superstars.
So glad we have them , as so many great artists have passed recently .
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