As to be expected, with the general state of the music industry still in limbo from the COVID-19 pandemic, 2021, so far, is looking light for new, eye-popping releases – compared to recent years, that is.
Still, there’s plenty to get excited for as a pure starting point, even if actual information is still a bit light for a lot of these releases. So, as per tradition, here are a few releases slated to launch within the early months of 2021. I’d usually tell you that any further updates will be made to my Album Release Schedule page, but I’m in the process of tooling with that. For now, if there’s anything essential that you feel I’ve missed, please reach out and let me know either in the comments below, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Steve Earle & the Dukes – J.T. (Jan. 4, digital release; March 19th, physical release)
Dedicated to Justin Townes Earle, Steve Earle’s son, who died last August, J.T. will be released digitally on what would have been Justin’s 39th birthday, Jan. 4, 2021. 100% of the artist advances and royalties from J.T. will be donated to a trust for Etta St. James Earle, daughter of Justin and Jenn Earle. First single “Harlem River Blues” is available now.
Aaron Watson – American Soul (Jan. 8, digital release; Feb. 5, physical release)
Aaron Watson’s newest studio album, following 2019’s 20-song-epic Red Bandana. Several pre-release singles, including the title track and “Touchdown Town,” are available now. The title track is Watson’s way of addressing the current cultural climate.
Lucero – When You Found Me (Jan. 29)
For Lucero’s tenth studio album, lead singer Ben Nichols said he “wanted a very classic rock sound for this album. I wanted it to sound like stuff I heard on the radio growing up. I didn’t want to make a retro record at all, but I did want to reference some of those sounds and tones and moods. I think we struck a nice balance between nostalgia and something that still sounds like contemporary Lucero.” The album was recorded last July and features lead single, “Outrun the Moon.”
Austin Meade – Black Sheep (Feb. 19)
Austin Meade is no stranger to The Musical Divide. His 2019 album Waves featured prominently in my “Best Songs” and “Best Albums of 2019” posts. He’s always straddled the line between country and rock, and new album Black Sheep looks to push more in the latter direction, judging by the pre-release tracks, that is. The album will act as Meade’s debut for Snakefarm Records.
Vivian Leva & Riley Calcagno – Vivian Leva & Riley Calcagno (Mar. 12)
Two of roots music’s brightest up-and-coming performers team up for a self-titled collaborative effort, to be released through Free Dirt Records. Both have displayed their strengths within their craft individually, and though it, sadly, won’t be the biggest release of the new year, it could be one of its best. Keep an eye out for it. “Will You” is available now.
Allison Russell – Outside Child (May 21)
A long-awaited solo debut effort, fans in the know with Po’ Girl, Birds of Chicago, and her recent critically acclaimed collaborative effort in Songs of Our Native Daughters – with Rhiannon Giddens, Leyla McCalla, and Amythyst Kiah – will recognize her name. Look for this artist to sing her truth come May.
Also to be released (dates subject to change, of course):
- Richard Haswell – With the Changing Light (Jan. 4, digital; end of January, physical release)
- Morgan Wallen – Dangerous: The Double Album (Jan. 8)
- Barry Gibb – Greenfields: The Gibb Brothers Songbook, Vol. 1 (Jan. 8)
- The Divorcees – Drop of Blood (Jan. 8)
- Devin Dawson – The Pink Slip (EP)(Jan. 15)
- Various Artists – The Years: A MusicFest Tribute to Cody Canada and the Music of Cross Canadian Ragweed (Jan. 22)
- Willie Jones – Right Now (Jan. 22)
- Langhorne Slim – Strawberry Mansion (Jan. 29)
- Aaron Lee Tasjan – Tasjan! Tasjan! Tasjan! (Feb. 5)
- Florida Georgia Line – Life Rolls On (Feb. 12)
- Kip Moore – Wild World (Deluxe) (Feb. 12)
- Will Overman – The Winemaker’s Daughter (Feb. 12)
- Bones Owens – Bones Owens (Feb. 19)
- Willie Nelson – That’s Life (Feb. 19)
- Sturgill Simpson – Cuttin’ Grass – Vol. 2 (The Cowboy Arms Sessions) (Vinyl) (April 2)
- Valerie June – The Moon and Stars: Prescriptions for Dreamers (early 2021)
- Laura Bell Bundy – Women of Tomorrow (early 2021)
- Dalton Domino – Arizona (TBA)