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The best country/roots albums of 2018

From Loretta Lynn to Pistol Annie's — here's what you need to listen to if you live for country and roots

Loretta Lynn's "Wouldn’t It Be Great" is one of our picks.
Loretta Lynn's "Wouldn’t It Be Great" is one of our picks.Read moreCourtesy of Loretta Lynn
  1. Mandy Barnett, Strange  Conversation. The singer, best known for portraying Patsy Cline, takes a disparate collection of pop, soul, and rock numbers and makes a riveting personal statement.

  2. Shemekia Copeland, America’s Child. The powerhouse vocalist and daughter of the late blues great Johnny Copeland works here in Nashville with a bunch of Americana stalwarts and delivers her own state of the union.

  3. Robbie Fulks and Linda Gail Lewis, Wild! Wild! Wild!. Fulks recaptures his early alt-country brilliance and teams with the piano-pounding sister of Jerry Lee Lewis for  a rollicking set that lives up to its title.

  4. Mary Gauthier, Rifles  and Rosary Beads. Adapting the stories of combat veterans and the spouses  of veterans, the singer-songwriter paints a devastating portrait of the toll of war but also an uplifting one about service and sacrifice.

  5. Buddy Guy, The Blues Is  Alive and Well. The music certainly is in the hands of this ageless blues  giant, who at 81 sounds as vital as ever.

  6. Joshua Hedley, Mr.  Jukebox. This young throwback cannily mixes hard country and  countrypolitan styles with timeless songwriting for a classic sound that  is nevertheless squarely his own.

  7. Loretta Lynn, Wouldn’t It Be Great. At 84, the country matriarch presents some new songs and revisits older ones, showing she’s as sage and salty as ever. 

  8. JD McPherson, Socks.  The roots-rocker’s Christmas album joyously transcends the season with unabashed rock and roll and terrific original songs that evoke the  colorful storytelling and clever humor of Leiber and Stoller.

  9. Pistol Annies, Interstate Gospel. On their third album, Miranda Lambert, Angaleena Presley, and Ashley Monroe (who had a strong solo album in Sparrow) again  take no prisoners with their tart and unsparingly candid takes on their  lives as women.

  10. John Prine, The Tree of Forgiveness. On his first album of original material in 13 years, the  singer-songwriter delivers more incisive wisdom with a twinkle in his eye,  and shows why he’s more beloved than ever. 

Honorable Mention: Ry Cooder, The Prodigal Son; Jesse Dayton, The Outsider; Shooter Jennings, Shooter; Bettye LaVette, Things Have Changed; Gina Sicilia, Heard the Lie.