I didn’t listen to enough country and Southern rock this year to feel comfortable taking my usual approach to this Best Country and Southern Rock of 2016 list. I know there are some great records out there that I just haven’t heard, possible better than the ones below. But there were a trio of albums that I wanted to call out, so here goes …
3. WHISKEY MYERS – MUD: These Southern rockers, I don’t believe, get the respect that they deserve. Mud isn’t as strong an outing as 2014’s fantastic Early Morning Shakes, but still a top-notch effort with some hell-raising Southern rockers and heartfelt odes to life, and a nice tribute to No. 2 on my Best Country and Southern Rock of 2016 list.
2. HANK WILLIAMS JR. – IT’S ABOUT TIME: Indeed, it is. I grew up loving Hank Jr., but in recent years his albums have become so much political grandstanding and soapboxing that I couldn’t stomach it. He drops that for this record and focuses on the music. The result is some of the best music that he’s produced since the 1980s. Sure, there are the ridiculous moments you’ve come to expect from Bocephus (“Dress Like an Icon”), but songs like the title track and the introspective “Just Call Me Hank,” recall the sounds that made him the man. It’s About Time was perhaps my most pleasant musical surprise of the year.
1. JACKSON TAYLOR AND THE SINNERS – WHICH WAY IS UP?: There’s certainly a leaning toward a more traditional sound on this final entry in my Best Country and Southern Rock of 2016 list. The cover of Cheap Trick’s “He’s a Whore” notwithstanding, there’s less of the wild-eyed middle finger here and more respect for Jackson Taylor’s influences. There’s also some timely and sincere commentary on the world. The title track, I think, should be required listening for everyone. It perfectly sums up the unprecedented election-year nastiness that we experienced in 2016 and will likely continue to experience for the foreseeable future.
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