2023 has already gifted us a truckload of exciting country album releases in the first half of this year.
With no sign of that drying up, each week, Holler's lasso them all up into a concise and helpful guide for you, complete with our thoughts on each album that's coming out or has just been released.
Today, we're celebrating the return of Turnpike Troubadours, while also delving into sophomore releases from Morgan Wade and Buck Meek. We're also previewing the much anticipated debut record from Alana Springsteen and new albums from Old Crow Medicine Show and Hiss Golden Messenger.
It's a busy week to kick this off! Let's delve in.
With their last release arriving in 2017, could Turnpike Troubadours relight the rocking fuse that made them arena headliners before they called the sabbatical?
The answer is here. Any sense of rust that might have accumulated over the past four years is quickly dismissed with A Cat in the Rain.
The title track explores staying strong in the face of adversity, with lots of context to sift through. But that’s part of the album’s charm, encouraging the listener to absorb Felker’s erudite, truthful yet unpretentious writing as they roll along with melodies that entice you back for another spin.
We’ve missed him and his band. It’s great to have them back navigating the turnpikes like the troubadours they are.
Rating: 8 / 10
Review By: Hal Horowitz
Morgan Wade's Reckless was one of the most acclaimed debut country albums in recent memory, setting quite the bar for her sophomore project. Unfortunately, her efforts to match it are… disappointing.
Psychopath would be better classified as alternative rock than country, a rehashed wave of nostalgia straight from the 90s that denounces any semblance of country from Wade’s sound. When it comes to the lyrics, they also fall flat, taking the form of a cheap collection of disjointed sentiments that shy away from the sharp grittiness of her previous work.
Though the infectious 'Domino' and the fitting tribute to ‘Alanis’ Morrissette are notable exceptions, Psychopath feels like a lackluster departure from the fringe country newcomer who offered so much promise.
Rating: 4 / 10
Review By: Lydia Farthing
Your twenties are something you stumble through. Stuck in this brutal in-between period, where the joyful recklessness of childhood gives way to the dull responsibilities of adulthood. For the first time in your life you’re properly fucking up for the first time and it feels confusing and uncomfortable and exhilarating all at once.
Teenage friendships fall apart, and you go on disappointing dates and have disappointing sex and have huge dramatic break-ups with people it turns out you didn’t even really like in the first place.
On TWENTY SOMETHING, Alana Springsteen captures that hot messiness in all its glory over 16 songs that colour outside the lines of pop country and land somewhere between the quiet intimacy of Kelsea Ballerini’s Rolling Up the Welcome Mat and Carrie Underwood at her baseball bat wielding best.
Review By: Jof Owen
Stepping away once again from his brilliant work with Big Thief, Buck Meek's third solo album is swept from the delicate country of his sophomore effort into a free spirited, tender jaunt, one that's pleasantly reminiscent of the Velvet Underground's restful Loaded-era.
Meek's kindly whisper brushes the cheeks of each song with love; a huge, enveloping attachment not simply to a close one, but a way of living, a favourite place, a sense of being. The way the instrumentation swells and buckles against itself leaves a well for Meek to pour such sentiments, enveloping you with a desire to be present and aware.
Haunted Mountain is a complex yet beautiful record that excites the more you unravel it, encompassing the feeling of falling for someone the more you get to know them.
Rating: 8.5 / 10
Review by: Ross Jones
With a discography that often finds itself pondering themes of class, alienation, money and depression, Hiss Golden Messenger’s Jump for Joy captures lead M.C. Taylor in a newfound state of, well, joy.
Offering up synth-laden R&B, Americana and soul, these 14 tracks effortlessly groove their way through stories of growth, realisation and coming of age, delivered with a contagious energy owed in large part to Taylor’s genre-fluid writing.
In an age of ever-prevalent doom, an album dedicated to interpreting life’s many complexities with warm and gentle candour, packaged with the same fluency for which Hiss Golden Messenger can always be trusted, is a rare and truly welcome respite.
Review by: Ciara Bains
Old Crow Medicine Show’s eighth studio album, Jubilee, attempts to bottle up the euphoric, unbounded energy of the band’s frenetic live shows.
Although there are moments for fun, bar-room sing-a-longs, Jubilee often descends into a chaotic, frenzied clutter. The band’s brilliance is far more radiant on the beautifully drawn-in ‘Daughter of the Highlands’ than it is on the feverish ‘I Want It Now’.
Old Crow Medicine Show set out to take you on a celebratory, jubilant voyage. At times, you catch jewels shimmering alluringly on the waves - but for much of the dizzying, choppy journey, you can’t help but feel lost at sea.
Review by: Maxim Mower
For more information and dates of all country albums being released in 2023, see below: