1. Songbird Son – Grandaddy
This isn’t intended to be a ranked top 10 but, if it were, Grandaddy’s new album Last Place would be at the top. Many were surprised at the quality of the band’s comeback album. But, if you’ve followed Jason Lytle’s solo work the past few years, you know that the songwriter behind Grandaddy is someone who’s working at his peak, not trying to reach back and recapture some lost glory.
2. DNA – Kendrick Lamar
I had to work at this album. But the work paid off. I’m still an old guy who just really doesn’t get the appeal of most modern rap, but the stories and turns of phrase on DAMN. sucked me in over time.
3. In the Wind – The Harmed Brothers
The quality of the new album from The Harmed Brothers caught me off guard. They’ve always been a solid band, but this year’s self-titled album finds them working at another level.
4. Terribly So – Howe Gelb
As Howe Gelb albums go, this one is a 5 out of 10. If you’re new to his music, start elsewhere. But, even a mediocre album for Howe is a pretty good album in the grand scheme of things.
5. Time Don’t Wait – Marty Stuart
Marty Stuart albums are always worth a listen. But, in my opinion, they’re not usually album of the year material. Way Out West is different. The songs and performances here are perhaps the best of Marty’s long and illustrious career. Maybe my favorite thing is that Marty made an album, not just a random collection of songs. This is one that’s worth putting on and listening to from start to finish.
6. God Bless the Infidels – The Sadies
We’ve written about the wonders of The Sadies before. Their latest album, Northern Passages is another solid addition to an already deep catalog of music. Canadians everywhere should be proud.
7. Old Timer – Willie Nelson
Every new Willie Nelson album is something to treasure. But an album of new music (not covers, not reggae, not duets) is something particularly special. With God’s Problem Child, Willie has released not just one of the best albums of 2017, but also an album that can be talked about with some of the best of his career.
8. It Don’t Suit Me (Like Before) – John Moreland
As more and more people are discovering, John Moreland is one of the best songwriters in America today. While I agree with reviewers who don’t care for the title of his new album, Big Bad Luv, doesn’t have a bad song on it.
9. Telephone – Sinkane
No song from 2017 has brought me as much pure joy as this one. The whole album, Life & Livin’ It felt like just what I needed when it came out. It still feels that way.
10. The Best is Yet to Come – Bob Dylan
Despite how much I liked Bob Dylan’s two albums of Sinatra covers, I wasn’t overly enthused when I heard he was releasing a triple album of more American standards. My attitude changed when I listened to the music. All told, we have five albums’ worth of this material now, and I’d be happy to have even more of it.