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
Data Entry Clerk
Sector: Public Service and Administration
Salary: £8.21 per hour
Location: Essex
Role: Full Time
Contract: Temporary
Job ref: 909814
About the role

Are you available immediately?

Are you available for the next 3 months?

Just Recruitment is recruiting for a Data Entry Clerk on behalf of a company who have branches across Essex/East Anglia.

The role will involve working on a bespoke internal system – strong attention to detail is essential!!

This is a full-time, temporary position working Monday – Friday, 09.00 – 17.30.

Interested? Apply today!

Read more
New job
Secretary/Administrator
Sector: Public Service and Administration
Salary: £21,500 per annum
Location: Colchester
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 909812
About the role

Do you have recent Audio Typing experience?

Are your Audio and Copy Typing speeds in excess of 60wpm?

Just Recruitment is recruiting for a Secretary/Administrator on behalf of a company based at their Colchester branch.

You will be providing administration and secretarial support to the branch – the majority of the role will be audio typing so you must be proficient!

This is a full-time, permanent role working Monday – Friday, 08.30 – 17.30.

Interested? Apply today!

Read more
New job
Freight Forwarding Coordinator - Exports
Sector: Transport, Logistics and Shipping
Salary: Discussed on application
Location: Dunmow
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 909809
About the role

Just Recruitment is looking to recruit an Export Freight Forwarding Coordinator on behalf of a company based in Great Dunmow, Essex.

We are looking for an experienced deep-sea Exports Logistics Coordinator to join a dynamic and growing team. You will have a proven background within the deep-sea export logistics industry, be confident, hands-on and able to work as a team member as well as using your own initiative.

Your duties will include:

  • Working within a team handling bookings from start to finish
  • Speaking to customers, creating documents and customs entries through the company’s IT System
  • Booking transport through the company's transport and shipping lines transport
  • Raising and authorising of sales and purchase invoices

Experience gained with a Freight forwarding / Logistics organisation dealing with export shipments by sea with a knowledge of exports by Road and Air would be advantageous.

40 hour week - covering between the hours of 9.00am - 6.00pm. Monday to Friday.

Three shift system 8.00am - 5.00pm, 8.30am - 5.30pm + 9.00am - 6.00pm.

Read more
New job
Interior Planner
Sector: Property and Construction
Salary: £19,000 - £24,000 per annum
Location: Earls Colne
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 909805
About the role

Just Recruitment is looking for an Interior Planner on behalf of a company based on the outskirts of Colchester.

The primary role of the Planner is to deliver planning activities in line with the client’s brief whilst following the company’s standards and policies.

Key responsibilities:

  • To support the overall client’s brief and the company’s deliverables
  • Be accountable for the quality, accuracy and delivery of plans on time
  • Able to carry out store surveys in line with the client’s brief
  • Understand and apply the client’s standards
  • Contribute to the wider team and recommend how they can plan better/drive efficiencies in the future
  • Support, coach and train colleagues where needed
  • Complete general admin tasks for the company including an accurate timesheet on a daily basis

The ideal candidate:

  • Able to build relationships with clients and colleagues
  • Being agile in the way they think, making decisions that are right for the client and the business
  • Handle and manage change
  • Get jobs done through motivation, determination and drive
  • Use planning expertise to highlight innovative ideas for how the business can improve in the way we work
  • Be passionate about planning resulting in good attention to detail
  • Showing a willingness to learn and grow
  • Being flexible to the client’s needs
  • Have the correct credentials to deliver the company’s expectations

Knowledge and experience required:

  • AutoCAD
  • Microsoft Office Suite
  • Numeracy, literacy and IT are essential skills
  • Full UK driving licence
Read more
Techncial Sales Assistant
Sector: Sales
Salary: Competitive depending on experience
Location: Sudbury
Role: Part Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 909803
About the role

Just Recruitment is looking for a Technical Sales Assistant on behalf of a company based in Sudbury on a Part-time basis.

You will have excellent organisation skills, high attention to detail and the ability to work on several projects at once.

Main duties:

  • Sales activities
  • Preparing and sending quotes
  • Providing administrative support including inputting data and filing
  • Managing and responding to incoming enquiries both on phone and via email systems
  • Liaising with customers
  • Liaising with the Marketing Department to provide updates and information on individual projects and contracts to assist in the preparation of promotional material
  • Managing and compiling industry compliance documentation, third party accreditation documents, forms and questionnaires
  • ISO Quality Management
  • Providing data for internal reporting and forecasting

A mix of the following key skills would be particularly beneficial to this role:

  • A minimum of 3–5 years in an admin/quality/technical sales role
  • Qualified to Graduate Level or equivalent, preferably with a technical / STEM-related degree
  • A professional, confident and approachable manner
  • The ability to plan, prepare and act decisively
  • An effective communicator who is customer-focused, creative and proactive
  • Self-motivated with the ability to work alone and as part of a team
  • A strong working knowledge of MS Office Applications: Excel, Word, Outlook, Powerpoint
  • The ability to prioritise, adapt and work to strict and competing deadlines
  • A solid understanding of the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

This is a part-time position with the possibility for full-time hours.

Further information:

  • Hours of work: 20-37.5 hours a week between 9 am and 5.30 pm, Mon-Fri. Can be flexible
  • 21 days holiday plus bank holidays
  • Free parking
  • The team also have a very friendly office dog!
Read more
CAD Technician
Sector: Creative Arts and Design
Salary: £18,000 - £25,000 per annum
Location: South Woodham Ferrers
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 909804
About the role

Do you have a minimum of 2 years CAD (AutoCAD) experience?

Just Recruitment is recruiting for a CAD technician for on behalf of a company based in South Woodham Ferrers.

Your duties will include:

  • Producing 2D CAD drawings for clients.
  • Help control the current drawing database, including the procurement of information and drawing distribution online.
  • To learn architectural plastering designs and processes.
  • To attend “in-house” and construction project design meetings.
  • To visit construction sites (London mainly) and assist in taking site dimensions when required.
  • Report to line manager and communicate with various managers and directors within the business.

You will have a strong understanding of design principles, be able to read and evaluate architects drawings as well as be a strong team player.

This is a full-time, permanent role working Monday – Friday, 08.00 – 17.00.

If you are interested then apply today!

Read more