Best Albums of 2013 (So Far)
Often the first few months of any year are a time to dump albums with little potential, but that is not the case in 2013. The race for the best album of the year began early with new releases from Gary Allan and Randy Houser, and has continued with strong showings from Ashley Monroe and Tim McGraw.
Any one of the five albums listed below could hang on to make the year-end list of the Best Albums of 2013. This is a fluid list, meaning as new albums are released the order will shift and expand. Eventually this will become a Top 10 list to include all the fine projects of the year. Allan’s ‘Set You Free’ has the top spot now, but with new music coming from the Pistol Annies, Kenny Chesney, Blake Shelton, Kenny Chesney and more, it’s going to tough for him to hold on.
The Best Albums of 2013 list was compiled using sales data, Taste of Country staff opinions and reader input. Check back monthly to see how your favorite albums are faring.
'Fall Into Me'
Katie Armiger's 2013 release is her best yet. 'Fall Into Me' rides a roller coaster of emotion, as most of the songs come from personal experiences with men. 'Cardboard Boxes,' 'He's Gonna Change' and the two singles ('Playin' With Fire' and 'Better in a Black Dress') are highlights from this 14-song collection from the 21-year-old.
'How Country Feels'
Strong songwriting and Houser's undeniable country voice make this one of the better listens of 2013. In addition to the feel-good singles (the title track and 'Runnin' Outta Moonlight'), you'll find yourself jamming along to tracks like 'Absolutely Nothing' and 'Sunshine on the Line.' The ballads may be what separates Houser's third album from others that didn't make this list, however. 'The Singer' and 'Route 3 Box 250 D' are passionate and forever memorable.
'Two Lanes of Freedom'
'Two Lanes of Freedom' is Tim McGraw's best record in nearly a decade. The title track, 'Highway Don't Care' and 'Nashville Without You' are three songs one keeps returning to. His voice is strong, and there's a true sense that his whole team was at their best to record the album -- his first on Big Machine Records.
'Like a Rose'
This isn't Ashley Monroe's debut album, but it's definitely her coming out project as a solo artist. 'Like a Rose' is a beautifully heartbreaking collection of songs from a singer who has lived the life she sings about. Each is delivered with an ounce of hope or maybe a pound of theater. Monroe's fragile delivery is something to behold. Her voice is amongst the best of her generation of country singers.
'Set You Free'
Gary Allan's 'Set You Free' explores several different styles with amazing proficiency. Blues, rock, traditional country -- even reggae -- all blend seamlessly into the bigger picture he paints with stories of deep depression and newly found happiness. Allan's first album in three years more than lived up to the anticipation. Highlights include the title track, 'Drop,' 'It Ain't the Whiskey' and 'Hungover Heart.'