A wealth of diverse new music from the full spectrum of country music has made its way to stores and online retailers this week. Traditional torchbearer Randy Travis, “Redneck Crazy” singer Tyler Farr and hick-hop visionary Colt Ford lead the way.
Still recovering from heart failure and a stroke suffered in July, Travis recorded the tracks for Influence Vol. 1: The Man I Am before falling ill. The covers album honors some of Travis’ musical heroes like Lefty Frizzell, Merle Haggard and George Jones and also features a duet with Joe Nichols on “Tonight I’m Playing Possum,” a tribute to Jones.
“When I think of my musical heroes of yesteryear or the younger stars of this year, I am reminded that it is true we learn from the ones ahead of us and teach the ones that follow,” Travis said in a written statement. “They are the reason I chose to make this album.”
Newcomer Tyler Farr makes his album debut with Redneck Crazy featuring his Top 10 and gold-certified single of the same name. Choosing familiar rural-lifestyle themes, Farr says he aimed for a wide audience.
“I wanted to make an album you could take anywhere,” he said. “And I can take this one to a barn party on a back road and have everybody rock out. And at the same time, kids can enjoy it and dance to it.”
Country rapper Colt Ford’s Ride Through the Country Revisited reboots his original debut album released five years ago and now boasts new special guests and updated music on 15 tracks. Brantley Gilbert, Ronnie Dunn and Jamey Johnson are among those making special appearances.
Catalog albums include Dwight Yoakam’s 21st Century Hits: Best of 2000-2012, Patti Page’s The Complete Columbia Singles 1962-1970, which focuses on the second half of the late singer’s career, and an intriguing collaboration between the Old 97′s and Waylon Jennings. The unnamed six-song EP features two tracks Jennings recorded with the alt-country mainstays in 1996 after attending one of their concerts plus four demo tracks, two of which are previously unreleased.
Independent releases arrive from Canadian folk-rockers Deep Dark Woods (Jubilee), Southern-revivalists the Wood Brothers (The Muse), country troubadour John David Kent (Before the Sun Comes Up) and Texas singer-songwriter Charlie Robison (High Life).
Meanwhile, twangy veterans the Sadies release Internal Sounds, Texan songwriter Owen Temple delivers Stories They Tell and Tired Pony (a collaboration between Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody and REM guitarist Peter Buck) unveil their second album, The Ghost of the Mountain.
Gospel favorites Blind Boys of Alabama return with I’ll Find a Way, produced by Grammy-winner Justin Vernon of Bon Iver and featuring a guest appearance by Patty Griffin.
And in bluegrass, Punch Brothers’ banjo wizard Noam Pikelny deconstructs a famous fiddle record on Noam Pikelny Plays Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe, Lou Reid & Carolina celebrate two decades as a band with 20th Anniversary Concert: Live at the Down Home and traditionalist James King offers Three Chords and the Truth.