Mid Year ‘Belles and Gals’ Review – by Liam Lewis

2018 is already shaping up to be a brilliant year for females in country music. Although we are only part way through the year there have already been a number of album of the year contenders, brilliant tours and an explosion of brilliant new artists. Here’s a rundown of some of my favourite albums, artists and singles; as well as some of my artists to watch in the latter half of 2018.

Immediately 2018 kicked off as one of the greatest years for female country with a truly incredible album from Caitlyn Smith. If you have not listened to ‘Starfire’ then you’re missing a musical masterpiece. The trend of brilliant album releases continued powerfully and we have had some truly great pieces of work in such a short time. Here are my top 5 album releases from the past 6 months:

1.      Caitlyn Smith – Starfire

2.      Kacey Musgraves – Golden Hour

3.      Imogen Clark – Collide

4.      The Shires – Accidentally On Purpose

5.      Courtney Marie Andrews – May Your Kindness Remain

Alongside the brilliant full-length albums that have graced our ear drums so far, there are a number of career defining and extraordinary EP releases. Many of my favourites are debut works displaying the incredible new sound and talent of artists fresh to the country music scene. Although I’ve only selected 5 there is truly a huge library of releases which could have made this list.

1.      Taylor Edwards – No Hard Feelings (Debut)

2.      Lena Stone – Lena Stone EP (Debut)

3.      Kalie Shorr – Awake

4.      Natalie Jones – Love ‘n’ Stuff

5.      Avalon Kali – Avalon Kali EP (Debut)

Alongside the brilliance of the full lengths and EP’s released over the past six months, there has been no stopping the intensity at which a number of artists have released singles. A continuing trend for 2018 so far is a dramatic change in the sound of many artists with a large number of artists leading towards creating a more contemporary radio-friendly country sound. Five of those such singles are not only some of my favourites singles of this year but also of all time. These are:

1.      Catherine McGrath – Wild

2.      Cassadee Pope – Take You Home

3.      The Shires – Guilty

4.      Megan & Liz – Hand on Mine

5.      Maddie and Tae – Friends Don’t

It appears that 2018 is the year for breakthrough new artist with some incredible artists joining the country music family. Here are my picks for the artists to watch within the next 6 months:

1.      Natalie Jones (UK)

2.      Taylor Edwards (USA)

3.      Imogen Clark (Australia)

4.      Roisin O’Hagan (UK)

5.      Lacy Cavalier (USA)

If the current trend of great music continues then 2018 is surely going to become a stellar year of country music.

Review written by Liam Lewis (twitter.com/liam0324)

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