Over the course of 2015 we saw many talented male country and Americana artists put out fantastic albums. Determining who will win Country Perspective’s 2015 Male Artist of the Year award will be no easy feat. The main guidelines for determining who should win are the following: the quality of music they’ve released in 2015, the impact they have made on the genre over the course of the year and the amount of growth they made as an individual artist.
Derek and myself will ultimately determine which artist will win, but we also want to hear from you the readers who is deserving of the award. Your comments will be highly considered for determining who wins and you could possibly sway who should be the winner. So be sure to sound off in the comments! Without further ado the nominees for Country Perspective’s 2015 Male Artist of Year (in alphabetical order):
The biggest critical darling and hottest artist in country music right now certainly has a case to win and is probably the favorite for many. His debut album Traveller racked up the awards at the 2015 CMA Awards and has garnered a few more nominations for the 2016 Grammy Awards. Many sites are calling it the best country album of the year and it very well could be declared the best by us too. Stapleton has no doubt made an impact this year also, as his current single “Nobody to Blame” is steadily moved up the country airplay charts. And most importantly I think he’s made a lot of his peers in mainstream country music think twice about the music they’re making.
The face of the Eagles decided to try his hand at making a country record and ended up producing one of the best country albums of the year. Henley clearly put a lot of thought into this venture and the love and cares shines through the music as you listen to it. While it is a country record, it also has made an impact on Americana as he was recognized this year at the Americana Awards and will probably be nominated for numerous awards at next year’s show. It’s currently still charting in the top 15 of the Americana Airplay chart too. The music of the Eagles catches a lot of flack, but even the most jaded haters of the Eagles have to acknowledge the artistry displayed on Cass County.
Nobody was expecting new music from Eric Church in 2015 and lo behold in the midst of the 2015 CMA Awards Church surprise released his new album Mr. Misunderstood. I went into this album not expecting a great record, as Church’s last album The Outsiders left me with a sour taste and confusion as to the amount of critical acclaim it received. Well he completely blew my expectations away, as he released arguably the best mainstream country album of 2015. It was the Eric Church I had been waiting to hear for a while, as he stripped back the production and made it about the music itself. The album’s title track and lead single is well on its way to being a #1 song and I have feeling this album could produce multiple #1 songs. Like Stapleton, I think Church could help lead the way for the genre going into 2016.
The King of Americana did not disappoint with his new album Something More Than Free. It was another album of great music from Isbell. What people didn’t expect is the impact it would make on the charts, as it reached #1 on the country chart, folk chart and rock chart. It sat at #1 on the Americana chart for months and still sits at #3 as of this writing, five months after it’s release. Isbell also nabbed two nominations at the 2016 Grammy Awards and could easily win both. With Americana’s stature rising and country being forced to pay attention to independent artists more, Jason Isbell is sitting pretty right now and could raise his own legacy even higher going forward.
The gritty, outlaw country artist from Detroit came onto a lot of people’s radars in 2015. His new album Sonic Ranch is considered by many fans and critics to be one of the best country albums of the year. For those looking for country music in the style of 70s country, Whitey Morgan is this fan’s ideal modern artist and the closest we have to Waylon Jennings. While he didn’t have quite the Sturgill Simpson breakout I thought he could have, he’s set himself up to have it with his next album and could become one of the top names in the independent country realm. After releasing his most complete album yet, Whitey Morgan has a really bright future ahead.