AllMusic 2016 Year In Review

Favorite Folk and Americana Albums -

 The latest releases from Lydia Loveless, Hiss Golden Messenger, Luke Bell and Aoife O'Donovan headline our list of the best folk and Americana albums of the year.
Circle Round the Signs

Al Scorch

Circle Round the Signs

Chicago-based banjo picker and songwriter delivers a powerful album of rollicking big-city folk with rock & roll muscle.

In the Magic Hour

Aoife O'Donovan

In the Magic Hour

The Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter delivers an intimate, poignant second album, written during a respite from the road.

Transatlanticana

Austin DeLone / Bill Kirchen

Transatlanticana

The Commander Cody guitarist and Eggs Over Easy collaborate on a roots-rocking album that's one hell of a good time.

Fallen Angels

Bob Dylan

Fallen Angels

Dylan's second Sinatra tribute record functions as a lighter counterpart to Shadows in the Night.

Blue Mountain

Bob Weir

Blue Mountain

A spare, spacy tribute to the cowboy songs dear to Bob Weir's heart.

Lola

Carrie Rodriguez

Lola

The Austin-based singer, songwriter, and violinist formed an all-star band to record "culturally blended music for a culturally blended world."

case/lang/veirs

case/lang/veirs / Neko Case / k.d. lang / Laura Veirs

case/lang/veirs

Collaboration between three world-class talents finds them trying to strike a stylistic balance, with often rewarding results.

Mangy Love

Cass McCombs

Mangy Love

On his eighth LP, the refreshingly renegade songwriter takes on life's messiness and timely sociopolitical topics with a smooth '70s veneer.

Charlie Faye & the Fayettes

Charlie Faye & the Fayettes / Charlie Faye

Charlie Faye & the Fayettes

The Americana singer/songwriter goes full girl group with her backing band the Fayettes.

Swimmin' Pools, Movie Stars...

Dwight Yoakam

Swimmin' Pools, Movie Stars...

The champion of the Bakersfield Sound tries his hand at bluegrass in this lively, full-bodied acoustic effort.

Exodus of Venus

Elizabeth Cook

Exodus of Venus

On her first full-length in six years, the songwriter aggressively alters her sound in cathartic, unapologetic new songs.

Scheherazade

Freakwater

Scheherazade

Their first album in over a decade shows Catherine Irwin and Janet Bean are still writing and singing with moody down-home genius.

Fleeting

Glenn Jones

Fleeting

Sixth solo full-length from the master neo-traditional folk guitarist, recorded at a creekside house in New Jersey.

The Narrows

Grant-Lee Phillips

The Narrows

Relocating to Tennessee prompts the singer/songwriter to record an engaging and evocative album about California life.

Lovers and Leavers

Hayes Carll

Lovers and Leavers

The Texas songwriter turns his gaze inward on his fifth album, and delivers his finest to date.

After What I Did Last Night...

Henry Wagons

After What I Did Last Night...

Wagons' second album is a sharp, savvy, satisfying neo-roots record.

Heart Like a Levee

Hiss Golden Messenger

Heart Like a Levee

M.C. Taylor and friends expand their sound and embrace rootsy southern soul, R&B, and bluesy gospel in their finest set to date.

The  Westerner

John Doe

The Westerner

Ten evocative songs of life under the big bright sun of the West; a superior solo effort from the co-founder of X.

Strange Country

Kacy & Clayton

Strange Country

Outstanding second album from this Canadian duo combines '60s-style North American folk and British folk-rock traditionalism.

Introducing Karl Blau

Karl Blau

Introducing Karl Blau

The prolific musician and producer Tucker Martine delivers a stellar album of vintage covers.

Singing Saw

Kevin Morby

Singing Saw

The singer/songwriter's third album benefits from the expansive production by Yellowbird's Sam Cohen.

You Want It Darker

Leonard Cohen

You Want It Darker

On his 14th album, the 82-year-old singer/songwriter looks into the void, wrestles with himself, God, and love with unflinching honesty.

The Bird & the Rifle

Lori McKenna

The Bird & the Rifle

The veteran country singer/songwriter's tenth effort is a warm, natural, gloss-free affair produced by Dave Cobb.

The  Ghosts of Highway 20

Lucinda Williams

The Ghosts of Highway 20

The great singer/songwriter ponders struggle and faith on this deeply personal collection.

Luke Bell [2016]

Luke Bell

Luke Bell [2016]

Old-school honky tonk charm from this wily and charismatic singer/songwriter.

I'm Glad Trouble Don't Last Always

Luke Winslow-King

I'm Glad Trouble Don't Last Always

Romantic troubles bring out the best in this Michigan-bred retro bluesman, who contemplates divorce in a soulful manner.

Real

Lydia Loveless

Real

Outstanding fourth album from the singer/songwriter adds a dash of pop gloss, but still feels as powerful and honest as ever.

Secular Hymns

Madeleine Peyroux

Secular Hymns

The acclaimed vocalist delivers an intimate set of covers recorded with her trio at the Parish Church of Saint Mary the Virgin in England.

The Things That We Are Made Of

Mary Chapin Carpenter

The Things That We Are Made Of

With producer Dave Cobb, the singer/songwriter offers a collection that bridges the tensions between the past and the uncertain future.

How to Dance

Mount Moriah

How to Dance

Third album from this rootsy North Carolina trio spotlights articulate, passionate songwriting and Heather McEntire's superb voice.

Day Breaks

Norah Jones

Day Breaks

Norah Jones returns home to the jazzy singer/songwriter style of her debut Come Away with Me.

Away

Okkervil River

Away

The sullen, sweet, and soulful eighth album from the Will Sheff-led ensemble rewards a patient ear.

Meridian Rising

Paul Burch

Meridian Rising

A clever, moving, and poetic tribute album to Jimmie Rodgers.

The Randy Newman Songbook, Vol. 3

Randy Newman

The Randy Newman Songbook, Vol. 3

Third album of bare-bones performances from the celebrated songwriter; fine work, but overly familiar material.

Upland Stories

Robbie Fulks

Upland Stories

This follow-up to the outstanding Gone Away Backward is another spare, subtly brilliant set of stories of life in the South.

Robert Ellis

Robert Ellis

Robert Ellis

The Houston songwriter returns home and extends his musical reach in a striking, confessional song cycle about divorce.

Golden Sings That Have Been Sung

Ryley Walker

Golden Sings That Have Been Sung

The Chicago guitarist and songwriter's third album was produced Leroy Bach and influenced by the Windy City music scene of the 1990s.

Young in All the Wrong Ways

Sara Watkins

Young in All the Wrong Ways

Concise and rich collection that finds Watkins emphasizing mature rock over Americana.

What to Fear

Sean Watkins

What to Fear

A hushed, haunting, and quietly affecting protest album as personal as it is political.

Eyes on the Lines

Steve Gunn

Eyes on the Lines

A windblown set of road explorations that yearns for the path less taken.

You're Dreaming

The Cactus Blossoms

You're Dreaming

Warm and rich collection of sweet, brotherly harmonies in the tradition of the Everly Brothers.

Redemption & Ruin

The Devil Makes Three

Redemption & Ruin

The trio returns with a host of all-star guests to deliver an excellent collection of American country, gospel, and blues covers.

Songs in the Dark

The Wainwright Sisters

Songs in the Dark

The progeny of folk music royalty team up for this set of lullabies, some traditional and some slightly twisted.

Going Down in History

Waco Brothers

Going Down in History

Tenth studio set from the venerable Chicago alt-country band is tougher and louder, delivering harder music for harder times.

Slingin' Rhythm

Wayne Hancock

Slingin' Rhythm

The modern-day master of Lone Star honky tonk swing keeps on ticking on his eighth studio album.

Modern Country

William Tyler

Modern Country

The guitarist's instrumental reflection on America is ambitious, tightly written, and expertly performed with a full band.