Time to take look at the best of March! If you’re not familiar or just started reading the blog, here’s the drill: Each month Derek and myself will take a look back on the month that was and share our thoughts on the music that was released and some of our favorites. Below that will be a Spotify playlist of all the songs we enjoyed. If you’re a fan of Spotify and use it, we have good news as we have a Country Perspective Spotify page. You can check it out and subscribe here. So let’s talk about the month of March!
The year of 2016 in country and Americana music just continues to get better with each month. March managed to top both January and February, as two very strong album of the year contenders emerged. The first of those contenders is Chris King’s Animal. This album knocked me flat on my ass and it’s one of the truest albums I’ve ever reviewed. Every song on this album connects to tell the story of a man who loses it all and finds redemption the only way he knows how to find it. Along the way he learns a lot about himself and does some introspection on his life. “Never Make It Last,” “Take It Down” and “Martinez Social Club” are the standout songs, but you need to hear this whole album.
The other album of the year contender to emerge was the much hyped Dave Cobb-produced project Southern Family. This album full of an all-star lineup of talent not only delivered what we expected, but kind of exceeded it. I expected the high quality, but what I didn’t expect is smooth and flawless the artists and songs mesh together to create a cohesive and deep album. It’s very hard to pick the favorites on this one, but if I have to choose one it’s Morgane and Chris Stapleton’s rendition of “You Are My Sunshine.” It’s hauntingly beautiful. Just like King’s album, you need to hear the entirety of Southern Family. It has something for everyone and it’s going to be on a lot of year-end lists.
If these two perfect albums weren’t enough to whet your music appetite, there was even more quality music. Loretta Lynn at the young age of 83 delivered the amazing Full Circle album. She doesn’t sound much different from what she did in her prime and if it’s indeed her final album of original music, she went out with an absolute bang. On the flip-side of the age spectrum, up and comer William Michael Morgan delivered a solid self-titled EP with the kind of music that every artist on a major label should be making. “Lonesomeville” was the standout of this EP for me, as the broken heart ballad is reminiscent of the music you would hear from Strait and Jackson in the 90s. Finally, the much-anticipated Margo Price released her debut album Midwest Farmer’s Daughter and she reminded me so much of…Loretta Lynn (pretty ironic they both released great albums in the same month). Derek is writing a review for this one, so I don’t want to spoil it. However when listening to this album be ready from the start, as I find the best song on it is the first one, “Hands of Time.”
March was a fantastic month for country and Americana music! It’s still early in 2016, but March may have produced three of the best albums of the year. Firstly, Chris King’s Animal showcased a great concept of getting over a broken heart. The entire album is fantastic from start to finish, but songs like “Never Make It Last” and “Take It Down” are two of my favorites. Dave Cobb’s highly anticipated superstar album Southern Family didn’t disappoint. Bringing in the hottest Americana stars with a few of mainstream’s more quality artists, Cobb produced a solid album with songs about family life in the south. It wasn’t one story, but a collection of stories meant to paint a picture of southern families. Zac Brown’s “Grandma’s Garden” is one of his best songs he’s released. Brandy Clark’s heartbreaking “I Cried” proves why Clark is held in high regard as a songwriter. But it was Morgane Stapleton’s stunning rendition of “You Are My Sunshine” with husband Chris on guitar and harmonies that ended up being the album’s best song.
Margo Price’s Midwest Farmer’s Daughter is an excellent traditional country album. “Hands of Time” and “Four Years of Chances” are two of the album’s top songs. Country legend Loretta Lynn also released another album to add to her large catalog. Full Circle had a little bit of everything from old songs to new songs, and several great cover songs. Lynn’s rendition of “Always on My Mind” is excellent, but it’s the final song from the album, “Lay Me Down”, a duet with Willie Nelson, that will be a favorite for years to come. Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention William Michael Morgan’s EP. A great record that captures the traditional sounds and values of country music but gives them a relevant spotlight in 2016. “Lonesomeville” and “Back Seat Driver” are my two favorite songs from the 22-year-old singer.