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It’s no secret that I love country music; its energy, its rootsy feel, its ability to tell a tale of heartbreak and get you on your feet at the same time…
Some of my favourite artists fall into the country category, but then, it’s no surprise considering I was raised on a staple diet of rock, soul, and of course, country!
At the dawn of the new century, country music began to make deeper inroads into the mainstream charts, and even saw country singer Carrie Underwood winning TV talent show, American Idol. It was an exciting time for the genre, so grab your boots and get ready to stomp your feet to some good ol’ boys and country gals…
Pour me, pour me, pour me, pour me another shot of whiskey//Bartender hit me one more time//He left, I cried I’m lost inside, won’t ya help me?//Fill it to the top ’cause I hit rock bottom this time
Essential track: ‘Pour Me’ (2000)
This track from Trick Pony is an absolute feast of swinging, feel good country from the opening bars to the guitar-driven solo – despite having a heartbreak theme, it’s just relentlessly foot-tappingly good through and through – I absolutely love it!
Guaranteed to get you up on your feet and kicking up your heels, ‘Pour Me’ was the debut single from Trick Pony’s 2000 album of the same title, peaking at #12 on the US Hot Country Chart.
Trick Pony hit the ground running with a string of successful singles, and the future should have been far brighter for this stellar country band. After being dropped from their label in 2004 and lead vocalist Heidi Newfield leaving to carve out a solo career, Trick Pony called it a day.
Check out this fantastic hidden gem and give these neglected outlaw country rockers some love!
So, take this love and take it down//Yeah, and if you climb a mountain and ya turn around//And if you see my reflection in the snow covered hills//Well the landslide brought me down
Essential track: ‘Landslide’ (2002)
There are so many great Dixie Chicks’ songs to choose from – ‘Cowboy, Take Me Away’, ‘Wide Open Spaces’ and more. But my favourite by these lovely ladies of country is their cover of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Landslide’.
Taken as the second single from the Dixie Chicks’ album, ‘Home’, ‘Landslide’ reached the Top 10 on both the US Billboard Hot 100 and the Hot Country Charts. From the finger-picking acoustic intro to the soaring three-part harmonies and simplistic style, it’s a glorious countrified take on an already stunning track.
Lyrically poignant, and with one of the prettiest melodies, Dixie Chick’s cover of ‘Landslide’ is a must for your summer country playlist!
Tired of living a life like that//Giving a love she don’t get back//Lies as big as a Pontiac//Rolling all over her
Essential album: ‘Little Big Town’ (2002)
The independently released debut album from country band, Little Big Town, is an absolute must-hear. And now tha we’ve got that out of the way, let me tell you why. Whilst Little Big Town went on to make a more than decent country career, this eponymously titled debut is packed with passion, and it would be a sin to overlook it.
Killer hooks, tight, sweeping harmonies and some absolutely gorgeous vocals from Karen, Kimberly, Philip and Jimi make this album one of my all-time favourites, and the acoustic vibe is just sublime. It’s fantastic to hear the root sound of a band that went on to bigger things, and this album is a perfect showcase for that.
I’ve chosen ‘Pontiac’ as my song choice; it has such an uplifting feel to it, and the vocals are incredible. Check out this stunning debut today!
What a beautiful mess, what a beautiful mess I’m in spending all my time with you//There’s nothing else I’d rather do//What a sweet addiction that I’m caught up in, cause I can’t get enough
Essential track: ‘Beautiful Mess’ (2001)
Diamond Rio’s #1 country hit, ‘Beautiful Mess’, was the band’s first crossover hit, peaking at #28 on the Billboard Hot 100 back in 2001. Released from Diamond Rio’s ninth studio album, ‘Beautiful Mess’ has a lovely bluegrass feel to it, and I love the inclusion of the mandolin on this track.
Starting life as the Grizzly River Boys at the Nashville Opryland Theme Park way back in 1982, the band soon became disenchanted with feeling more like attractions than actual musicians. After changes in line-up and health issues blighting progression, Diamond Rio finally came to life. And the rest is history for this stellar country outfit!
‘Beautiful Mess’ is catchy, classy country done to perfection by these good ol’ boys with one heck of a track record.
Get it on your playlist today; it’ll only be the start of your love affair with Diamond Rio!
So won’t you come to my rescue?//Shake this pain from my soul//And take this fool back in your heart baby//I’ll go crazy if you don’t
Essential album: ‘Seventy Two and Sunny’ (2000)
Probably best known for his work with Kid Rock and the chart hits ‘Follow Me’ and ‘Drift Away’, Uncle Kracker’s 2000 album was a completely stripped back country featuring some absolutely stunning tracks.
It’s a shame that ‘Seventy Two and Sunny’ wasn’t received better. Chart-wise it didn’t fare too well, and the two singles it spawned didn’t exactly set the world on fire, either, with ‘Rescue’ just nudging into the Top 20 and ‘Writing It Down’ failing to chart.
Lukewarm reception aside, Uncle Kracker’s third album is unadulterated country from beginning to end, and I particularly love ‘Rescue’; it’s smooth, smooth country with such a pretty melody and a gorgeous, soulful vocal performance from Michael Shafer (AKA Uncle Kracker).
A laidback country hidden gem, just waiting for you to discover and love!
What weve got going on is so incredible//This chemistry between us feels so wonderful//But knowing me, I’ll probably, find a way to mess it up//Who knows, who cares, right now, just let me be in love
Essential track: ‘Just Let Me Be in Love’ (2001)
Tracy Byrd’s ‘Just Let Me Be in Love’ has a lovely Spanish guitar intro segueing perfectly into poignant lyrics, steel guitar and confident, rich vocals from one of my favourite unsung heroes of country.
Tracy hit the top spot back in 1993 when ‘Holdin’ Heaven’ gave him his breakthrough #1 hit on the country charts, but it was a feat he wouldn’t accomplish again until 2002 with the effortlessly fun, ‘Ten Rounds with Jose Cuervo’.
‘Just Let Me Be in Love’ was released from Tracy’s 2001 album ‘Ten Rounds’ and this pretty ballad never quite got the credit it deserved.
Pop this overlooked country gem of the noughties on your country playlist today and give it some love!
I’ve shared with you some of my favourite country artists and tracks from those early days of the new millennia, but I can’t wrap this up without going back to a veritable superstar I mentioned in my intro – Keith Urban.
This New Zealand-born Australian artist has scored a whopping great twenty #1 singles overall and five #1 albums since the release of his US debut album back in 1999. A talented guitarist, songwriter and a smoking hot vocalist, Keith Urban is the quintessential country phenomena of the noughties.
Do you agree? And who would you add to my list? Get commenting and let us know!
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