Stapleton’s Room is The Envy Of All On Phil’s Picks 2017 Top 10 New Country/Bluegrass/Americana/Folk Albums List

Courtesy: Mercury Nashville

Country music, Americana, Bluegrass and Folk are some of the most closely related sounds out there today.  They are so closely related that it is easier to find acts from the noted genres on one radio station oftentimes than bands in the worlds of rock and metal.  It seems that there are much more finely defined lines in those two worlds even with their similarities.  Considering that the noted genres tend to be so close to one another, it is easier to group them all together in one list for the purpose of the year’s best new albums.  That having been noted, this critic’s list of the year’s top new albums from those realms is spread widely across each one.  Topping this year’s list of the best new country/bluegrass/Americana/Folk albums is Chris Stapleton’s latest offering, From A RoomVolume 2.  From start to finish, this record takes listeners back to the good old days of country while also touching on southern rock and even some blues.  That’s just the musical aspect of his latest album.  The lyrical content works expertly with each arrangement.  If you are a country, blues and southern rock fan but haven’t yet picked up this record, get it.  Period.  Also on this year’s list are new releases from North Carolina-based outfit Mipso, David Messier, Zakk Brown Band and others.  It runs the gamut.

As with every other list, this list features the year’s Top 10 new albums plus five additional honorable mention titles for a total of 15 albums.  Without any further ado, here for your consideration is the Phil’s Picks 2017 Top 10 New Country/Bluegrass/Americana/Folk Albums.


  1. Chris Stapleton — From A RoomVol.  2
  2. Andrew Carter — Andrew Carter
  3. Josh Turrner — Deep South
  4. Brad Paisley — Love and War
  5. David Messier — Waiting For Eldridge
  6. Hank, Pattie & The Current — Hold Your Head Up High
  7. The Infamous Stringdusters — Laws of Gravity
  8. Mipso — Coming Down The Mountain
  9. Mike Mangione & The Kin — But I’ve Seen The Stars
  10. Outlaws & Moonshine — The Devil In The Moonshine
  11. Buzz Cason — Passion
  12. Luke Combs — This One’s For You
  13. Darius Rucker — When Was The Last Time
  14. Zac Brown Band — Welcome Home
  15. Toby Keith — The Bus Songs

While the list above is this critic’s own list of the year’s top new records from the country/bluegrass/Americana/Folk realm.  There were certainly more albums than what’s listed here that deserve at least one listen including Lady Antebellum’s latest album Heartbreak, Luke Bryan’s What Makes You Country, Rascal Flatts’ This Is Us and so many others.  Keeping that in mind, there is plenty out there for fans of every noted genre within that universe.

Next up from Phil’s Picks are lots more lists to try to get to before the year lets out.  Lots to do and not enough time, so we’re going to step things up from here.  There are new Children’s albums, rock records, hard rock/metal, live recordings, and the DVD realm.  So there will likely be multiple lists from this point forward.  Stay tuned!

AT&T Audience Network’s Weekly Concert To Feature Darius Rucker Tonight

Courtesy: Liberty Records/Capitol Records Nashville

AT&T Audience Network’s weekly live concert series has another big name for this week’s show.

Darius Rucker is this week’s featured artist. The broadcast, set to air at 9 p.m. ET/PT will be available on DIRECTV Channel 239, AT&T U-Verse Channel 1114 and on-demand through DIRECTV NOW. The hour-long concert, which is part of Rucker’s current tour in support of his latest album When Was The Last Time, was recorded at the Apollo Theater in New York City and features a set list that reaches back to Rucker’s solo debut album and all the way to his most recent album When Was The Last Time. It also features some fan favorites from his days as front man of Hootie & The Blowfish.

As if the songs themselves are not enough for audiences, the concert also features a guest appearance by Robert Randolph (front man of Robert Randolph and the Family Band) for performances of ‘Love What You Do’ and ‘Hold My Hand’ alongside Rucker.

Ted Stryker, host of AT&T Audience Network’s weekly concert series kicks off tonight’s broadcast with an on-stage interview with Rucker ahead of the concert’s broadcast.

More information on AT&T Audience Network’s weekly concert series is available online now along with all of the series’ latest news at:




More information on Darius Rucker is available online now along with all of his latest news and more at:




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Lots Of Options Offered By 2015’s Top New Country, Folk, Bluegrass, And Americana Albums

Country music and its related genres (I.E. americana, bluegrass, and folk) are big business in the music world. Just look at all of the karaoke competitions on television today and the number of country singers that go on those shows, trying to make a name for themselves. Look at the reach that it has on radio in general. Artists such as Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood have bridged the gap between pop and country alongside the likes of Rascal Flatts, Eric Church, and so many others. In the same breath, true-blooded country music remains just as much of a driving force today within the realm of country music as its more cross-genre counterparts that have become so popular over the last ten years or more. The dichotomy of the two worls is really intriguing to examine as well as the fan base of both sides of the country music world. Keeping that in mind, country and its offshoots can be said to have just as much importance to the music industry today as any other genre. So having covered the realm of children’s music, independent music, and world music, it seems only fair to offer up a listing of the year’s top new records in the worlds of country, folk, bluegrass, and Americana within their own collective year-ender. This was one of the more difficult lists to assemble because of the sheer variety of sounds and titles available to listeners this year. North Carolina-based Delta Rae makes the list once again with its new album After It All. Americana artists Buzz Cason is on this list, too with his new album Record Machine as are Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard with their new record Django and Jimmie. Of course Geoge Strait, “The King of Country,” couldn’t be ignored in this list. His new album Cold Beer Conversation is on the Phil’s Picks list of 2015’s top new Country, folks, bluegrass, and Americana records, too. They’re just a handful of the acts to make the list this year. There are plenty of others veteran and otherwise alike on this year’s list. Without any further ado, I offer to you, dear readers, the best new country, folk, bluegrass, and americana albums of 2015. As always the top 10 albums are…well…the top 10. the bottom five each get honorable mention. That is not a stab against them by any means. It was just that tough to compile the list and do it fairly because there were so many great new records in this realm just as with the other lists. Enough rambling. Here are the Best New Country, Folk, Bluegrass, and Americana albums of 2015 from Phil’s Picks.


1. Willie Nelson & Merle Haggard — Django and Jimmie

2. George Strait — Cold Beer Conversation

3. Blackberry Smoke — Holding All The Roses

4. Delta Rae — After It All

5. Sugarcane Jane — Dirt Road’s End

6. Alan Jackson — Angels and Alcohol

7. Alabama — Southern Drawl

8. Tim McGraw — Damn Country Music

9. Buzz Cason — Record Machine

10. Darius Rucker — Southern Style

11. Gloriana — Three

12. Luke Bryan — Kill The Lights

13. Chris Stapleton — Traveller

14. Dwight Yokam — Second Hand Heart

15. Zac Brown Band — Jekyll and Hyde

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True Believers Another Radio Ready Record From Rucker

Courtesy:  Capitol Records Nashville

Courtesy: Capitol Records Nashville

Darius Rucker picks up on his latest release, True Believers, where he left off on his sophomore album, Charleston, SC 1961.  The album is twelve more tracks of radio ready pop country songs that would fit just as well at an Adult Contemporary radio station as they would at any modern country station.  Right from the start, this is a major bright spot for Rucker.  It’s a bright spot in that it shows just how commercially viable and accessible this record is. True Believers is dominated by the theme of romance and relationships that is common across musical genres.  From the album’s opener and title track to the album’s lead single, a cover of Bob Dyland’s ‘Wagon Wheel’, to its final trio of songs, True Believers presents the highs and lows of romance and relationships from all of their possible angles.  All the while, he does so against a full set of songs that will have audiences singing along happily whether at a live show or in their own car.

The general structure of True Believers is interesting in examining it from a lyrical standpoint.  It could be argued that to a point, the album’s sequencing plays a role in its success.  Its first pair of songs is set in a  near story-telling fashion.  The “story” starts off with a young couple fresh off of their wedding in happily wedded bliss in the album’s title track.  From there, it advances a few years down the road to the point that so many couples sadly reach in ‘Miss You.’  This song presents the once happy couple now not so happy as their marriage has become strained due to everything going on in their lives.  Rucker doesn’t point out what those stress factors are.  But he paints a vivid picture, nonetheless.  He writes in the song, “We can’t go all night/And not even touch one another, no/Baby, I’m still in love/So let’s be lovers/You know it’s not fair/That you can be right here/And I can be with you/Oh, oh and miss you…”  There are a lot of listeners that could relate to this situation.  And the song’s more withdrawn sound works quite well to illustrate the feelings of the figure portrayed.  What makes this such an interesting song is that it could really be told from the point of both a man and a woman.  That makes it even more worth a listen.
After the initial “story” set by the album’s first two tracks ends, different stories of love gained and lost are thrown in.  From the gentle introspective ‘Love Without You (ft. Sheryl Crow)’ to the more upbeat ‘Lost in You’ to the tearjerker about lost love, ‘I Will Love You Still’ and beyond, listeners are introduced to the variety of emotions and situations in which romance and relationships play into our lives every day.  And because so many of those situations are in fact so relatable, it makes them even more listenable for audiences.
For all of the deeply moving songs steeped in romance and relationships that Rucker amassed for this record, they aren’t all that he included among the album’s sequencing.  Among all of those songs centered on love and loss, Rucker did include a little something to break up all of that emotion in the form of ‘Radio.’  ‘Radio’ is a song written very much in the vein of Everclear’s ‘AM Radio.’  It’s just a feel good song that again, any listener will appreciate.  Any listener will appreciate it because unlike the album’s songs of love and loss, it is a musical trip down memory lane in every possible sense.  It will remind every listener of their own younger days as Rucker sings, “Ridin’ down the highway/Who wants to be the DJ/I’ll find a spot on the side of the road/You find somethin’ on the radio/Like a feel real good song/We’ll know it when it comes on/Didn’t have no money/No place to go/All we needed was a radio.”  As with the previously mentioned songs, this one does so well not just because of its happy-go-lucky lyrics, but the music behind those lyrics.  The song’s music is just as upbeat as those lyrics.  Together, it becomes no surprise that this song has in fact ended up the next song from his album on the ‘Radio’ (ba-dump-bump-bump). 
Whether for ‘Radio’ or any of the other songs noted here (or any of those left out here), audiences are offered twelve more tracks full of fun and deep emotion.  Fans across the country will get to hear the songs from this album, and his previous pair of albums as Darius tours in support of True Believers.  He will be performing live tonight at the Vina Robles Amphitheatre in Paso Robles, CA.  A full listing of Darius Rucker’s tour schedule is available on his official Facebook page, and his official website,  Fans can also stay up with all of the latest from Darius online through Twitter at and via Instagram at  His new album can be downloaded through iTunes at
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