Why it’s time you got into country music (and eight albums to help)

Modern country music isn’t all about dead dogs and broken hearts. Here’s why you should definitely give it a go

By Tim Gibson

For years, I’ve harboured an awful secret. Something so embarrassing that I’ve been scared to admit it in public. Something that I just know will elicit derision and disappointment from my fellow human beings, and so have kept under my hat or confined to the privacy of my car stereo.

    My name is Tim Gibson and I love country music. Adore it. Can’t get enough of it.  

But now I’m ready to admit it. To ‘fess up to my unfortunate predilection. I feel the world is ready to hear it, that we’ve reached a sufficiently enlightened state that I won’t be judged or admonished.

Maybe I’ll even be celebrated as a pioneering hero.

So here goes. My name is Tim Gibson and I love country music. Adore it. Can’t get enough of it. And have done for years.

I discovered country music as a teenager, thanks to my brother’s enthusiasm for Garth Brooks. When I heard his eponymous first album in 1989, I was immediately hooked. The combination of heartfelt lyrics, razor-sharp musicianship and Brooks’s distinctive voice were enough to make me an instant fan.

I’d never heard music like it, and went on to buy every one of his albums as they were released over subsequent years.

Inevitably, my tastes broadened as I became more familiar with the genre. I soon discovered Tim McGraw and George Strait, enjoying the former’s pop-tinged melodies and the latter’s classic country vibe. Then came the likes of Shania Twain, Tanya Tucker and Deana Carter – all of whom entranced me with the brilliance of their music and lyrical dexterity.

Oddly for a boy growing up in rural Sussex, songs about hard-working cowboys driving pick-up trucks and feeling broken hearted had a profound resonance. To this day, I’m never happier than with the windows rolled down while driving along a dirt road listening to a steel guitar.

But the thing you should know is this: modern country music defies stereotypes. Yes, there are plenty of songs that incorporate the standard tropes of dead dogs and hard graft in the dirt of the Deep South. But there are also loads that address topics such as racism, gender equality, public healthcare and education.

    ...country music is a rich and varied tradition that has something for everyone.  

Singers like Mary Chapin Carpenter and Lori McKenna made their name by pushing at the boundaries of country music. Thanks to their brilliant song craft and obvious respect for the genre’s traditions, they’ve taken it to new places, attracting a whole swathe of fresh admirers in the process.

That’s paved the way for a new generation of country musicians whose popularity pushes them into the mainstream. Names like Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan and, of course, Taylor Swift are well known among music lovers across the globe. But their roots lie resolutely in the great traditions of country music. Their influences include titans like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash and George Jones.

All in all, then, country music is a rich and varied tradition that has something for everyone. Which makes it a surprise that more British music lovers don’t embrace it. Thanks to events like Country 2 Country, the genre’s profile has risen in Europe, and stations like BBC Radio 2 now give country songs more airtime than ever. But it’s a slow burn, meaning many miss out on a musical enthusiasm that is genuinely life enhancing.

Of course, in the US it’s a different story. Country music is very much the dominant force, with mainstream artists like Sheryl Crow, Richard Marx and even the great Bon Jovi all eager to secure playtime on country radio.

To help you discover the joys of the genre, here are eight of the best country albums for you to download today.

1. Garth Brooks Ropin’ the Wind

17 million people can’t be wrong. This album is country music perfection. The ideal place to start.

2. Mary Chapin Carpenter A Place in the World

From the opening bars of the first track, “Keeping the Faith”, to the wistful melody of the closing title track, this album is a wonder.

3. George Strait Troubadour

The title says it all: Strait is one of country music’s biggest and most enduring stars. This album shows you why.

4. Lori McKenna The Bird and the Rifle

You could choose any McKenna album and instantly fall in love with her raw style. The Bird and the Rifle is an outstanding offering in an outstanding oeuvre.

5. Alan Jackson Drive

A classic country singer of the old school, Alan Jackson has a deep baritone voice and sings from the heart. I defy you not to cry when listening to the title track.

6. Tim McGraw Everywhere

This is the album that made McGraw’s name. Everywhere is a perfect blend of country traditionalism and classy pop hooks.

7. Shania Twain Come On Over

The album that helped Shania hit the big time. Produced by her then-husband RJ “Mutt” Lange (renowned for producing the likes of Bryan Adams, Def Leppard and even Lady Gaga), it’s a perfect pop-country crossover.

8. Deana Carter Did I Shave My Legs for This?

At first listen this album seems like a standard offering. But pay attention and you’ll hear a modern take on tradition, making it as fresh today as it was in the 1990s.

Published: 6 September 2019

© 2019 Just Recruitment Group Ltd

If you enjoyed this article, you may like: Five quick meals using barbecue leftovers

You may also enjoy: The 10 best albums of the 1970s (in my opinion)

Jobs currently available

New job
Goods In and Despatch Person
Sector: Warehouse
Salary: £10.00 - £11.00 per hour
Location: Colchester
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 909243
About the role

Just Recruitment is recruiting for a goods in and despatch person with some QC experience on behalf of a company based in Colchester.

You will be responsible for booking in and booking out all deliveries for the company. Competent skills in use of computers and Excel is essential for this position.


To assist the two Production Managers with the coordination and control of all goods in and out process, for all departments. Excellent communication between departments is necessary.


  • Oversee all goods arriving and being despatched from the factory in an orderly manner
  • Quality control of all products leaving and entering the factory from finishers or being sent directly to clients
  • Compiling pallets lists using Excel
  • Keep the despatch list up to date for purchasing and sales information
  • Collate all the delivery notes for the purchasing dept to collect and check them against the purchase order and mark that they have arrived


  • Meticulous attention to detail, alongside a high level of accuracy
  • Keeping work area clean and tidy
  • Self-motivated
  • Good time management skills with the ability to prioritise simultaneous multiple tasks
  • Ability to read CAD drawings desirable but not essential
  • Forklift licence preferred
Read more
New job
Machine Operator/Assembler
Sector: Engineering and Manufacturing
Salary: £18,000 - £20,000 per annum
Location: Sudbury
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 909240
About the role

Just Recruitment is looking for a Machine Operator/Assembler for a client based on the outskirts of Sudbury.

The role will involve the following skills:

  • Assembly of timber staircases from in-house manufactured components.
  • Working to daily/weekly deadlines.
  • Assisting with machining standard parts for staircase assembly.
  • Assisting team with loading and despatching finished goods and making the necessary despatch records.
  • Use of a variety of hand and power tools including power screw drivers and nail guns.
  • Application of specialist adhesives.
  • The use of special stair press, squares and other measuring tools to ensure that products are put together accurately and consistently.
  • Machine setting: loading of cutting tools to magazine and placing work holding equipment on machine bed.
  • Loading of work-piece blanks to machine table using laser alignment system or other stop/location devices where necessary.
  • Machine operation: Exercising awareness whilst machines are ‘in cycle’, clearing of waste and offcuts and remaining watchful for other employees approaching the area where the machines are in ‘automatic operation’.

In addition, candidates should be:

  • Physically fit and be able to carry out this task across the entire working day.
  • Able to lift and carry parts and materials and be experienced in group lifting activities when the need arises.
  • Comfortable with handling workshop documentation, adhering to established works procedures and eventual involvement in computer-based data entry.
  • Have a familiarity with timber machining and how cutter rotation, in and out paths can Additional skills in first aid, H&S, manual handling (maybe with supporting vocational qualifications) or fork truck driving will also be noted.
  • Reading component data from workshop documentation including drawings and cutting lists.
  • Carrying out daily/weekly/monthly maintenance and cleaning of machinery to keep in good working order.
  • Any candidate who has had prior experience of CNC machining of timber components will be of interest

Monday to Friday 8am-4.30pm

Free Parking

20 days plus bank holidays

Standard gov pension scheme.

Read more
New job
Sales Executive £40k OTE plus Company Car
Sector: Sales
Location: Colchester
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 906139
About the role

Just Recruitment is delighted to be representing a company based on the outskirts of Colchester, they are looking for a new member of the sales team. 

Are you a driven sales person looking for a new business role? 

Would you like to self manage your day, drive your own leads and develop new business? 

Would you like to work in a role where you have autonomy? 

The package offered includes a basic salary and commission, this is uncapped and the average sales person is earning in excess of £40k.

As well as a good financial package you will have 20 days holiday plus bank holidays, staff benefits, an excellent working environment and the opportunity to progress. 

You will also have a fully expensed company car! 

Your normal working hours will be Monday to Friday 9 - 5:30 but this role does require some travel and 1 night away away from home (Thursday night - fully expensed and meals included)

You must possess the following skills and attributes:

  • Excellent communications skills.
  • Be able to communicate at all levels as you will need to deliver information to stakeholders.
  • Excellent IT skills.
  • A real desire to be successful.
  • Outgoing, bright personality.
  • It would be beneficial to have but not essential.
  • Sales experience.

This is an excellent opportunity to build a successful career, its all about you!

Please note that due to the nature of the role and travel required you must have a full clean driving licence and be prepared to stay away from home 1 night a week (Thursday). 

Read more
New job
Payroll Assistant
Sector: Accountancy, Banking and Finance
Salary: £19,000 - £23,000 per annum
Location: Norfolk – Norwich
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 909231
About the role

Our client, a leading independent accountancy firm are looking to recruit a Payroll Administrator to join their practice in Norfolk

This role may be suitable for you if you have previously been involved in the preparation of payrolls (ideally within a bureau environment) and if you have a keen interest in further developing your skills and becoming part of a busy payroll bureau.

The available position is working within the Business and Private Team in the payroll bureau, assisting with the processing of client payrolls which vary in frequency (weekly, monthly, 2/4 weekly) and in size (1 to 100+ employees). 

You will have the opportunity to get involved in all aspects of the payroll function and will have the potential to progress with increased responsibility for clients. We are looking for a candidate with good communication skills, who enjoys working as part of a team, has the ability to organise their workload and an appetite for learning and development.

Addresses, discusses and advances conclusion in respect of technical and audit issues identified during the course of the audit

Controls the audit in relation to timescales, budgets and risk managements procedures

Provides feedback through regular communication and timely assignment appraisal

To be conserved for the role you will have:

  • SAGE and / or Payroll Professional (formerly known as Star) experience.
  • Xero / Quickbooks payroll experience.
  • Background in working in a payroll bureau environment
Read more
New job
Grinding Operator - Days
Sector: Engineering and Manufacturing
Salary: Discussed on application
Location: Braintree
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 909224
About the role

Just Recruitment is recruiting for a GRINDING OPERATIVE for their client based in Braintree, Essex.

This is a rewarding role and will appeal particularly to applicants who have basic cylindrical grinding experience and who thrive on challenges.

This role is varied with opportunities to enhance exiting skills and learn new, training will be provided as required.


  • Experience of precision or Tool room grinding.
  • Knowledge of cylindrical grinding principles.
  • Proven engineering background in a similar environment.
  • Willingness and ability to work as part of a team.
  • Must be physically fit as repetitive lifting/moving is required.


  • Ideally similar background in manufacturing, production and grinding-based roles, would be advantageous but not essential.
  • Use of pre-set meters and gauges to check conformity of product.
  • A willingness to learn and constantly improve.
  • Good team worker.

Hours of Work:

Day Shift:

  • Monday – Thursday: 7.30am – 16.00pm.
  • Friday: 7.30am – 15.00pm 39 hours per week.

Additional hours at overtime rate are available to suit business demands.

Read more
Account Manager
Sector: Sales
Salary: Up to £22,000 per annum
Location: Colchester
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 909214
About the role

Just Recruitment is looking for an Account Manager to join their client, a well regarded organisation based on the outskirts of Colchester looking to add an Account Manager to their highly successful team.

Offering an excellent package and great working environment, this is a great opportunity to join a company that rewards hard work and dedication.

The key purpose of this role is to effectively manage, oversee and organize interactions between our customers and the organization throughout the customer life cycle.

You will optimize interactions from the customer’s perspective, and as a result, foster customer loyalty and advocacy.

You are responsible for managing excellent communication and interactions between customers and the company, providing a high quality of customer service which increases the company’s reputation leading to increased sales and improved business performance.

Key duties include but are not limited to the following:

  • Duties will include preparing quotations, processing orders, handling enquiries via incoming calls, updating customer accounts and dealing with correspondence.
  • To provide the first line of contact for all incoming calls to the business, ensuring calls are handled in a professional and helpful manner.
  • Process both telephone and email enquiries with speed and accuracy, ensuring customers are made aware of all relevant information.
  • Ensure all customer contacts, sales and service issues are resolved to achieve a high level of customer satisfaction, balanced against commercial viability.
  • The ability to generate additional sales through the conversion of quotations, upsell products, and promotional selling and proactive calls.
  • To optimize every opportunity within all areas of the sales department to ensure individual KPI targets are consistently met, and contribute towards team, and company objectives.
  • Arranging PDF artwork Visuals & samples.
  • Following up on samples.
  • Converting quotes into orders.
  • Checking stock levels.
  • Checking deadlines can be met by suppliers.
  • Creating electronic files to store client’s information regarding the order.
  • Entering the correct data onto the system which accurately reflects the status of orders.
  • Liaising with clients and making them aware of the order progress.
  • Checking on order status to ensure smooth running of orders to avoid any issues.

Attributes needed for this role are:

  • Excellent Organization skills.
  • Good communication skills and excellent attention to detail.
  • Ability to work in a fast-paced office environment.
  • Equipped to work as a team player as well as an individual.
  • Experienced at working towards targets/KPI’s.
  • Computer literacy and keyboard skills essential.


Read more