It's the final page of Village Voice writer Alan Scherstuhl's list of the Best Country Albums of 2013, focusing on his top three. As Scherstuhl writes of his #3 pick, Kacey Musgraves' Same Trailer, Different Park:
Seriously, from here on you could re-order these records any way you want. Any could be the top in a lesser year, and this one shares deep DNA with the #1 below: a songwriter; a love of melancholy detail; a shuffling, understated sound; an amiable disaffection with the go-nowhere reality of small-town life; and a mission to make mainstream country music that exposes sad truths rather than encourages the usual rah-rah-America denial.
The other records Scherstuhl references (his #2 and #1 picks) are Ashley Monroe's Like a Rose and Brandy Clark's 12 Stories. These three records aren't just the best country albums of the year—they're the best records of any genre, give or take a Yeezus or Beyonce. I love them all for the reasons Scherstuhl lists above, and for their amazing songs.
Here's my favorite Kacey Musgraves (performed live at Bonnaroo!). Here's my favorite Ashley Monroe. And below is my favorite Brandy Clark, which I was happy to see is the one that made the biggest impression on Scherstuhl, too. (Bonus: Ms. Clark is a Washington State native—Lewis County represent!—and an honest-to-God-but-let's-not-make-a-big-stink-about-it out lesbian.)
Moral: It is an insanely great year for country music (which makes this admittedly funny thing seem a little myopic.)
*-Not counting news reports on the continuation of marriage equality in Utah, of course.