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
QA Manager
Sector: Engineering and Manufacturing
Salary: Discussed on application
Location: Saffron Walden
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 910873
About the role

Our client is seeking an experienced Quality Assurance Manager to join them on a permanent, full-time basis. This opportunity offers stability, longevity and professional development.

Reporting directly to the MD, the Quality Assurance Manager will be responsible for:

  • Maintaining and improving the Company's Quality Management System and ensure internal compliance
  • Working with all departments to ensure their procedures are being followed and to improve their internal and cross-functional processes and procedures
  • Ensure that the quality of current and newly introduced products is compliant and traceable
  • Coordinate Quality activities with all over departments
  • Develop and improve quality relationships with all customers of the Company
  • Responsible for all Quality activities and personnel in the Quality Department for the Company
  • Provide strong leadership in the day-to-day operations of the Quality department and mentor the members of the team
  • Establish performance goals for all departmental employees and monitor performance on a continual basis
  • Oversee all hiring, appraisal, training and discipline of Quality personnel
  • Member of the Company's Management team
  • Produce the Quality element of the company's annual Budget
  • Formulate the departmental strategy aligned to the overall Company strategy
  • Embed a Continuous Improvement culture within the Quality Dept and contribute to the Continuous Improvement programme across the site


  • HND or equivalent qualification in Engineering or a related technical field required
  • Minimum 5 years experience in a Manufacturing environment
  • Ability to articulate (verbally and in writing), defend and negotiate Quality expectations with internal and external customers at all levels of management
  • Good interpersonal skills with the ability to guide and educate/train at all levels
Read more
New job
Customer Service Administrator
Sector: Customer Service
Salary: £22,000 per annum
Location: Halstead
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 910871
About the role

Just Recruitment is delighted to be supporting a well-regarded organisation at the forefront of its sector that is looking to add a Customer Service Administrator to its team, due to growth – based on the outskirts of Halstead.

The main purpose of the role is to service current and prospective customers by receiving and processing orders, enquiries and general information in a timely and courteous manner.

Key tasks include:

  • Answering incoming calls, giving product information, lead times, dealing with general enquiries and queries, redirecting calls to relevant departments
  • Raising and inputting orders and proforma invoices
  • Raising quotations
  • Amending orders, as required
  • Scanning documentation
  • Liaising with Areas Sales Managers and responding to their requests
  • Arranging couriers and/or carriers as required
  • Any general office associated duties

Key requirements for the role:

  • Excellent computer skills
  • Good eye for detail
  • The ability to work well under pressure
  • Courteous

Previous experience requirements:

  • Previous Customer Service Administrative experience gained within an office environment
  • Excellent telephone manner with the ability to communicate at all levels
  • High level of attention to detail and accuracy
  • Good working knowledge of Microsoft Office and experience of in-house systems
  • Ability to multi-task and prioritise own workload
  • Exceptional communication skills, both written and verbal
  • Understanding of the importance of data protection and adherence to the process

Offering free parking and an excellent working environment, this is a great opportunity to join a growing team.

Working Monday to Friday 37.5 hours per week - offering a competitive salary and company benefits.

Read more
New job
Production Operative
Sector: Engineering and Manufacturing
Salary: £8.91 per hour
Location: Needham Market
Role: Full Time
Contract: Temporary
Job ref: 910811
About the role

Want to work in a safe, clean environment?
And have the possibility of ongoing work?

Just Recruitment is recruiting for a Temporary Production Operative to be based in Needham Market.

Duties include:

  • Ensure all final and completed products are packed to the customer specifications                               
  • Informing Line Leaders of defects found in the products
  • Keep machines supplied with packing materials and labels
  • Assist the Line Leaders with handovers and changeovers
  • Responsible for general cleanliness of the production area and removal of production and general waste
  • Check products on the line for quality and defects
  • Basic production duties carried out in a fast-paced environment

Working hours:

8.30am - 5.00pm Monday to Friday

Read more
New job
Logistics Coordinator
Sector: Transport, Logistics and Shipping
Salary: £24,000 per annum
Location: Ipswich
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 910869
About the role

Just Recruitment is delighted to be supporting, a well-regarded, family-run business on the outskirts of Ipswich.

You will be responsible for assisting with the loads out operation of the business by ensuring that the process from collection to arrival at the final destination is fully supported by the relevant goods in haulage documentation.

You will also be supporting the sales function of the business by dealing with customer queries in terms of both sales and operations as well as assisting with various ad-hoc marketing campaigns. This is a very varied role and requires flexibility, commitment and a substantial desire to learn and grow with the flourishing business.

Duties will include:

  • Process orders and oversees the order to completion of paperwork
  • Facilitate the shipping of products from one destination to another
  • Arrange transportation with outside hauliers
  • Receive paperwork from the Weighbridge department and check and complete the paperwork within the allocated time allowed
  • Answer calls and emails relating to customer queries and log them on the CRM system and resolve any outstanding issues raised
  • Keep CRM records up-to-date
  • Work with the sales and operations team to ensure that high customer service levels are achieved and delivered to all customers you are responsible for at all times

Skills required:

  • Good Microsoft skills including Word, Outlook & Excel
  • Ability to work proactively on an independent basis as well as be a good team player
  • You will have the interpersonal skills necessary to develop and sustain effective relationships with team members of other departments and with all customers
  • Good attention to detail and analytical skills
Read more
New job
Legal Secretary (Part-Time)
Sector: Law and Security
Salary: Up to £11.00 per hour
Location: Witham
Role: Part Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 910868
About the role

Just Recruitment is delighted to be supporting an established business, based in Witham looking to add a highly-skilled secretary to their long-standing team.

The role will involve, audio typing, preparing documents, answering the phone, dealing with enquiries and assisting colleagues as well as directing queries as needed.

Key responsibilities to include:

  • Audio typing – dictation
  • Preparing letters and drafting documents
  • Handling diaries and booking appointments
  • Answering the phone and dealing with queries
  • General secretarial and office-based duties

As well as having experience in a secretarial position, you will have audio typing experience and excellent typing skills. The role requires you to have a good level of IT literacy, experience of Word (essential) and Excel would be useful. You will take pride in your work and have a caring and sympathetic nature.

Please note this role is part-time.

This is a great opportunity, offering a good pay rate and company benefits.

Read more
Accounts Assistant
Sector: Accountancy, Banking and Finance
Salary: £9.50 - £10.00 per hour
Location: Sudbury
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 910867
About the role

Just Recruitment is delighted to be supporting, a well-regarded, family-run business on the outskirts of Sudbury.

They are looking to add an Accounts Assistant with payroll experience to their team.

Key duties include:

  • Responsible for weekly and monthly payroll’s on Sage and all related duties (holiday forms etc.)
  • Knowledge of Xero accounts
  • Purchase Ledger
  • Sales Ledger
  • Chasing payments
  • Exporting mail-order invoices and credit notes from Magento to Xero
  • Assist Bookkeeper with any accounts duties
  • Assist Bookkeeper with HR Duties as needed
  • Reconciling Braintree payments to Mail Order invoices
  • Assist with stocktaking and valuation

Knowledge of Xero and Microsoft Office would be advantageous, although Sage experience would be considered. Attention to detail, good time management skills, accuracy, approachable and reliability is a must.

Free parking is available on site, offering a competitive hourly rate and an excellent working environment.

Read more