While several conversations this year focused on the struggle that women artists face on the country music charts, female artists delivered some of the best albums of 2013. From Kacey Musgraves to Ashley Monroe and Brandy Clark, it’s been a banner year for female country singers. Gritty realism and emotional honesty marked many of the year’s best albums – be they from women or men – in what has been a tremendous year for the genre. And as the year comes to a close, we offer our look at the Best Country Albums of 2013 in no particular order. As is the case with all Top 10 lists, some very worthy projects can’t be included. So if your favorite album of the year isn’t on here, let us know what you’ve been listening to all year long by leaving a comment!
Brandy Clark 12 Stories
Nashville singer/songwriter Brandy Clark’s debut album is so honest that some listeners might be left speechless. Using mostly traditional arrangements that recall greats from Waylon Jennings to Roseanne Cash, Brandy spins one moral dilemma after another on 12 Stories with a razor sharp eye for character development. Read our original review here >> From cheatin’ songs like “What’ll Keep Me Out Of Heaven” and “Illegitimate Children” to tales of revenge (“Crazy Women”) and addiction (“Take A Little Pill”), Brandy’s ever-so-smart wordplay and talent for rich storytelling are captivating. Country fans might be unknowingly familiar with her songwriting (Brandy co-wrote Miranda Lambert’s “Mama’s Broken Heart” in addition to The Band Perry’s “Better Dig Two” and Reba McEntire’s “The Day She Got Divorced”), and that same wry humor is on display here. In the old school Western “Stripes,” mortal revenge will not be carried out because those prison jumpsuits are just too unflattering. No crime of passion’s worth a crime of fashion, Brandy sings with a sardonic twist as she delivers one of country music’s best debuts in recent memory. Key Tracks – “Stripes,” “Hungover,” “Pray To Jesus,” “Crazy Women”