The Musical Divide’s Honorable Mentions For Best Albums Of 2018

Considering The Musical Divide operates mostly as a review outlet, I take a lot of pride in the amount of music covered here. While some may understandably see this extra addition to the albums list as overkill, it’s mostly a testament to how much good music I still couldn’t fit into the actual list no matter how hard I tried.

Like the title suggests, this is the list before my eventual “Best Albums Of 2018” list. To qualify as an honorable mention, the album had to be reviewed on this outlet sometime during the calendar year. Without further ado, let’s get started.

Oh, before I forget – there are two important things to keep in mind:

  1. Again, this is not the actual “Best Albums of 2018” list.
  2. These are presented in no order, but the actual list will be.

Lucero – Among The Ghosts

Among The Ghosts was an overall good return to form for Lucero, and a fitting tribute to 20 years as a band. The front half of the album featured some of their best, fiercest songs yet, highlighting a thematic arc of loneliness that haunted the album beautifully. It may have been a tad inconsistent in the second half, but overall, Among The Ghosts saw Lucero doing what they do best – delivering sweaty, grimy rock numbers with an unmatched growl and intensity.

Courtney Marie Andrews – May Your Kindness Remain

Look, not to make this personal, but I’ll freely admit my original review for this album was … not my best work. May Your Kindness Remain saw Courtney Marie Andrews hammering down on her natural, soulful voice, lending a sense of lived-in character to her stories that made them instantly memorable and all the more appealing. The production also carried enough sizzle and muscle to back up all the flair as well.

Montgomery Gentry – Here’s To You

While it’s sad to see this be the final album from Montgomery Gentry, it was definitely a fitting return to form. This album saw both Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry get back to having their devilish fun without the bro-cliches evident on their last album. In addition, as evidenced by “Better Me,” there was room for spiritual growth for Gentry, a fitting, but somber note to end on. Long time fans of the band certainly weren’t displeased with this album. Rest in peace, Troy.

Wade Bowen – Solid Ground

There’s not much to say about Solid Ground other than it was a solid effort from Wade Bowen that saw him bringing in more of a Texas influence this time around. Along the way, we got some exciting songs like “Day Of The Dead” and “Acuna.” “7:30” and “Death, Dyin’ and Deviled Eggs” were also prime examples of good, country storytelling. If anything, Solid Ground is at least a nod to Bowen’s consistency throughout all of these years.

Lori McKenna – The Tree

The Tree explores age from multiple perspectives and yet never feels incohesive or scattershot. The album’s ultimate goal is to show how those perspectives morph together and change over time, a goal wonderfully reached thanks to McKenna’s masterful songwriting. It’s an album where the multiple perspectives create a sense of subjectivity, thus playing the biggest role in determining one’s love for it.

Whitey Morgan & The ’78’s – Hard Times and White Lines

Hard Times and White Lines might not have the same amount of consistency or firepower as past Whitey Morgan projects, but it continues to highlight Morgan’s knack for picking good songs. At this point, bourbon and whiskey-soaked honky-tonk music is exactly what you’re going to get from Morgan, and thankfully the results here are mostly great. In other words, if you were already a fan, you won’t be disappointed.

Old Crow Medicine Show – Volunteer

Volunteer is a whirlwind of an album, showcasing some of Old Crow Medicine Show’s tightest musicianship while also having a ton of fun along the way. You best hang onto your hat while listening to this album, because pretty soon it’ll be over before you even press “play.”

Meghan Patrick – Country Music Made Me Do It

This was an incredibly enjoyable slice of pop-country that I’ve liked ever since I first heard it back in February. Meghan Patrick’s Carrie Underwood-esque vocals lead to some chilling vocal moments on this album, and the songwriting was quite strong as well (as evidenced by “Walls Come Down”). Overall, this was an album that unfortunately slipped under the radar for some, so if you haven’t checked it out, make sure you do so.

Tucker Beathard – Nobody’s Everything

If you heard “Rock On” or “Momma & Jesus” and wrote off Tucker Beathard, Nobody’s Everything just may change your mind about him. The muddier, atmospheric country-rock mixes suit him as a singer way better, and on songs like “Leave Me Alone” and “Picture To Prove It,” he shows improved songwriting skills on this dark album. If nothing else, Nobody’s Everything is Beathard doing things his own way, and that’s commendable in its own right.

Colter Wall – Songs Of The Plains

Songs Of The Plains was definitely a step in the right direction for Colter Wall. His tribute to his native land of the Saskatchewan prairie mostly pulled itself off well, and sonically, this album had the same lonesome feeling the land itself does. It feels like a collection of cowboy tunes you could play around a campfire with some buddies that honors tradition while also offering something new.

Dusty Rust – Stolen Horse

One of the album’s only “sins” is that it just didn’t include enough material to really be counted as one of the year’s best albums. With that said though, Stolen Horse is a hell of an album from Dusty Rust. In terms of the production, this is one of the most unique albums I heard all year. It’s retro-Western music with a modern punch to it. It’s colorful and inviting, and in terms of overall unique albums I heard this year, Stolen Horse just may take the cake.

Loretta Lynn – Wouldn’t It Be Great

“Wouldn’t it be great” she asks … it’s Loretta Lynn. Of course it’s going to be great! In all seriousness, there’s not much to say about this album other than it still somehow finds Lynn defying time and sounding at the top of her game vocally. She also brings a raw level of charisma and power that’s essentially proof for how she could eat most modern country singers for lunch. She also revisits old hits and makes them new again for our delight.

Jason Eady – I Travel On

It admittedly took me a very long time to warm up to Jason Eady’s I Travel On. I do miss the lusher details he usually brings to the table, but this album is aiming for a different mark. On a technical level, the instrumentation is damn near flawless, and this is the most lively I’ve ever heard Eady on record. Overall, it was a fun little departure that saw Eady spreading his wings and providing some versatility to his arsenal. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Eric Church – Desperate Man

Eric Church continued doing what he did best on Desparate Man – being weird and being different. In a way, Desperate Man saw Church come full circle. The album featured songs that pulled from all of Church’s album eras to form a listen that, while incohesive at points, still managed to be far more interesting than anything else in mainstream country music at the moment. “Monsters” is one of those cuts that will go down as one of his best songs, too.

John Prine – The Tree Of Forgiveness

Simply put, The Tree Of Forgiveness isn’t John Prine just handing us an album and saying, “here you go.” This is prime Prine. The poetry is as strong as ever, and very few artists can crush you and make you laugh in the same album.

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