Some of the best country albums of the year pushed the genre's boundaries, including releases from Kane Brown, Ashley McBryde, and Lindi Ortega. But there was still plenty of room for more traditionally-minded and equally outstanding work from Frank Foster, Shooter Jennings, and Joshua Hedley.

Somewhere in Between

Adam Hood

Somewhere in Between

The loose, comfortable vibe provides an ideal showcase for the versatility of Adam Hood's songs.

Girl Going Nowhere

Ashley McBryde

Girl Going Nowhere

A brawny and sharp debut from an exceptional country singer/songwriter.

Sparrow

Ashley Monroe

Sparrow

A sumptuous, string-laden semi-autobiographical song cycle.

Providence Canyon

Brent Cobb

Providence Canyon

A warm, relaxed, funky, and excellent second set from Brent Cobb.

Port Saint Joe

Brothers Osborne

Port Saint Joe

Brothers Osborne get funky and funny on this assured sophomore set.

Cry Pretty

Carrie Underwood

Cry Pretty

Carrie Underwood lets her guard down on this risky and rewarding album.

Lonesome as a Shadow

Charley Crockett

Lonesome as a Shadow

The Dallas-based country singer merges country, blues, folk, and soul in unexpected ways.

Lifers

Cody Jinks

Lifers

The longtime independent Texan makes his label debut with another earthy, honest, and appealing record.

Dark Horse

Devin Dawson

Dark Horse

Devin Dawson carves out fresh country-pop on his post-genre debut.

The Mountain

Dierks Bentley

The Mountain

Dierks Bentley splits the difference between the country and the city.

Desperate Man

Eric Church

Desperate Man

An assured, comfortable, and subtly adventurous album.

'Til I’m Gone

Frank Foster

'Til I’m Gone

Frank Foster emphasizes his humor, heart, and connection to heartland rock on this strong album.

Time Flies

Jim Lauderdale

Time Flies

The gifted songwriter and singer blends modern and retro sounds on this engaging, beautifully crafted album.

Mr. Jukebox

Joshua Hedley

Mr. Jukebox

An exceptionally well-crafted salute to the glory days of '60s country.

Golden Hour

Kacey Musgraves

Golden Hour

An emotionally candid, blissfully soft blend of classic country composition and modern pop.

Experiment

Kane Brown

Experiment

A savvy, canny expansion of his genre-bending country debut.

Back Being Blue

Kelly Willis

Back Being Blue

The outstanding country vocalist delivers a short but sweet set of tunes about the ups and downs of romance.

Songs for the Saints

Kenny Chesney

Songs for the Saints

A love letter to the Caribbean created as a tribute to the islands in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

Liberty

Lindi Ortega

Liberty

The Canadian singer/songwriter shifts gears with a cinematic concept record inspired by life events, Ennio Morricone, and Quentin Tarantino.

Strange Conversation

Mandy Barnett

Strange Conversation

A rich, soulful move to Americana from the traditionalist country singer.

Steak Night at the Prairie Rose

Mike and the Moonpies

Steak Night at the Prairie Rose

Mike & The Moonpies synthesize a bunch of classic country sounds on this lively, invigorating record.

Interstate Gospel

Pistol Annies

Interstate Gospel

Pistol Annies return from a hiatus with a fully realized, resonant record that's their best to date.

Wild! Wild! Wild!

Robbie Fulks / Linda Gail Lewis

Wild! Wild! Wild!

Jerry Lee's sister teams up with a gifted alt-country songwriter for a rollicking set of rockabilly, country, and boogie-woogie.

Shooter

Shooter Jennings

Shooter

The outlaw scion digs deep into his country influences on this well-crafted set produced by Dave Cobb.

Bigger

Sugarland

Bigger

After a lengthy hiatus, Sugarland return with a mature, confident country-pop record.

King of the Road: A Tribute to Roger Miller

Various Artists

King of the Road: A Tribute to Roger Miller

An eclectic, heartfelt tribute to Roger Miller that illustrates the depth of his songbook.

Restoration: Reimagining the Songs of Elton John and Bernie Taupin

Various Artists

Restoration: Reimagining the Songs of Elton John and Bernie Taupin

A terrific modern country tribute to the songs of Elton John and Bernie Taupin.

Last Man Standing

Willie Nelson

Last Man Standing

Willie Nelson faces mortality and decides the time is ripe to have a good time.

Pistol Annies