The year is almost over, and the year has seen a slew of fantastic albums, from Erich Church’s surprise Mr. Misunderstood to Aaron Watson’s climb to the top of the country charts with The Underdog. Ashley Monroe and Kacey Musgraves graced us with their presence once again with The Blade and Pageant Material, respectively, and who could forget Jason Isbell’s Something More Than Free and the album of the year, Chris Stapleton’s Traveller.
But while those were all fantastic, 2016 promises to be just as exciting, with confirmed records from acts like Keith Urban, Randy Rogers Band, and more. Plus, there are a number of rumored new country albums we could see released in 2016. Here’s what’s coming up.
Brothers Osborne, Pawn Shop
Brothers John and T.J. found themselves a Top 15 hit in “Stay a Little Longer” and got nominated for a CMA this year for Vocal Duo of the Year. their debut album drops Jan. 15. they are currently traveling with Jon Pardi on the “All Time High” tour to promote the album.
Hank Williams Jr., It’s About Time
Also on Jan. 15, Hank Jr. will unleash his first album on Big Machine’s NASH Icon label. His cover of “Are You Ready for the Country”, which he performed with Eric Church at the CMAs this year, is rumored to be the first single off the album. Other track listings are predictable Bocephus fare, with track titles like “Club U.S.A.,” “God and Guns,” and “Just Call Me Hank.”
Randy Rogers Band, Nothing Shines Like Neon
The Texas country powerhouse will release their seventh album on Jan. 15, and it will feature guest spots from Alison Krauss, Jamey Johnson and Jerry Jeff Walker.
Vince Gill, Down To My Last Bad Habit
Gill’s latest album features many a supporting cast member, something he’s become very familiar with in his career. Lead single “Take Me Down” features Little Big Town on backup vocals, and Cam shows up to lend her voice to “I’ll Be Waiting For You.”
The rest of the album features subject matter that might be a bit darker than Gills fans are used to hearing from him, with track titles like “Reasons For the Tears I Cry” and “I Can’t Do This.”
The album drops Feb. 12.
Joey + Rory, Hymns That Are Important To Us
This one might be an emotional listen. Joey and Rory Feek were working on a collection of hymns right before Joey was diagnosed with stage IV cervical cancer. This album was Joey’s labor of love, Joey wrote in a recent blog post: “We recorded it in a studio in Nashville early in the summer – just after recovering from her first big surgery in Chicago. And then she did her vocals where she could… in hotel rooms, our house, wherever and whenever she felt up to singing…This record means so much to her. It is the songs that are the most important to her.”
The album will come out on Valentine’s Day.
Loretta Lynn, Full Circle
The Coal Miner’s Daughter’s first studio album in more than a decade, Full Circle is said to be a concept album about the 83-year-old’s life in the music industry. Traveling a variety of genres, from standards to gospel to folk to newly written originals, this piece features duets with Elvis Costello and Willie Nelson.
Keith Urban, Ripcord
There’s no release date, no official tracklist and no official producer, but we do know that Urban’s next album is coming out in 2016. It will feature singles “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16” and “Break On Me”. And, if those two, plus the sound of 2013’s Fuse are any indication, this one will stretch far beyond the country genre. Be on the lookout for more details on Urban’s Twitter page.
The Dixie Chicks
They just announced a new tour, so could that mean they’re recording another album afterward? This one might not even come out in 2016, but it’s a fun guess.
In case you haven’t heard, Turner’s next album has been in development hell for quite some time, presumably over creative differences with his label MCA Nashville. He released lead single “Lay Low” way back in 2014, two years after his last studio album, Punching Bag. Turner has said in interviews he’s excited to get the album out there. Could 2016 be the year that happens?
Also a member of MCA Nashville, Allan’s latest has been struggling for release almost as long as Josh Turner’s. The album has songs co-written by Chris Stapleton and should include “Hangover Tonight.” Since Vince Gill is also signed to MCA Nashville, it might be mid-2016 until we hear new stuff from Turner and Allan.
Some of the most exciting news we heard this year was that Sturgill Simpson had signed a major deal with Atlantic Records. We don’t know the status of his next project, as he’s still touring in support of his 2014 release Metamodern Sounds in Country Music. But if the timeline of how he recorded his last album is any indication (Simpson and company hammered it out in two weeks), we expect to see this new highly-anticipated release sometime in 2016.
Bentley has said he’s “hard at work” on a brand-new album, although there’s no release date or anything official yet. “I feel like Riser was one of my better records, so I really want to make something that equals that,” he told Taste of Country in April.
If you’re like me, you love everything Johnson has done and you’re been placating yourself over the fact he hasn’t released any new material by listening to his Hank Cochran tribute album over and over. Johnson’s website has long-touted new material of some sort, but that’s mostly taken the form of singles— “Alabama Pines”, “You Can”, “You Are My Sunshine”, and a Christmas album. Here’s hoping 2016 will see new Jamey Johnson content.
Clark’s debut 12 Stories was about as big an artistic statement one could make. Songs like “Pray to Jesus” and “Stripes” cemented Clark as a wry storyteller who understood country music tradition. Her follow-up is being produced by Jay Joyce, the man responsible for Little Big Town’s Girl Crush” and Eric Church’s “Give Me Back My Hometown”. The new album should come out early 2016.
Carll’s last alum, KMAG YOYO (& Other American Stories) was widely acclaimed, but that was back in 2011. He’s been hard at work on a new album since June 2015, and he signed with Thirty Tigers in 2014. The new album, according to Carll’s Twitter account, is due in April.