A Country Music Sampler, Inspired by the National Western Stock Show

There is so much to like about country music - the artists (Reba, Luke, Easton, Carrie), the lyrics (dogs, trucks, riding, kissing), the festivals (boots, line-dancing, beer, hats), the vibe (road trip, summertime, cut-offs, fooling around). So what's stopping you? Here are a few selections from Billboard magazine's Top Country Albums of 2017 to get you started - no cowboy boots or pick-up truck required!

Like any burgeoning act in country music, Lindsay Ell is ready to forge her own path and her latest album, The Project, is a pretty effective start. Just one element that makes The Project so distinctive is Ell’s ability to takes common subject matters like love and relationships and flip them on their head, casting them in a fresh perspective.

Deciding he needed a new challenge as an artist, Darius Rucker turned to award-winning songwriter Ross Copperman as his new production partner for When Was The Last Time, his fifth country album. His albums typically feature songs about the "here and now" and there are several on this album - “Straight To Hell,” “Count The Beers,” and “Another Night With You,” the former a song featuring Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan and Charles Kelley, all superstars of country music.

Feeling wearied after 10 years and five full albums, Lady Antebellum went on hiatus in 2016 to work on solo projects and rejuvenate. On Heart Break, the majority of which they co-wrote, the members experiment with bringing individual vantage points to the fore and representing male and female perspectives more distinctly. And they've added horns to their already distinct sound!

When asked about the title of his fourth studio album, The Devil Don't Sleep, Brantley Gilbert says “ ...it's all about knowing that the devil is always there, and there’s always temptation. It just keeps me on my toes, and it’s just kind of a constant reminder to me to move forward and keep my nose in the right direction.” The artist is a recovering addict, and you'll find parts of his journey in every track on the album.

Kelsea Ballerini is turning Nashville on its head with her second album, UnapologeticallyIt is arranged thematically, beginning with the darkness of a breakup and ending with the ecstasy of new love. The 24-year-old singer won the Academy of Country Music’s Milestone Award in April, was nominated for Best New Artist at the Grammys in February and may be named Country Music Association’s Female Vocalist of the Year - this gal is going places!

For a taste of some local country, visit DPL's own music vault, Volume, to check out some tracks!

Written by Dodie on January 16, 2018