It’s never easy to pick the best music of the year, particularly when there are so many worthy releases in numerous genres. Below are ten of my personal favorites from 2020 in Americana – that elusive spot where folk, roots, rock, and county collide.   

Drive-By Truckers – The Unraveling. One of the great rock bands of the 21st century continues to make an impact. Thoughts and Prayers…

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit – Reunions. Perhaps the best songwriter of his generation, Isbell kept busy in 2020 recording and on Twitter.

Allysen Callery – Ghost Folk. The Bristol, RI based singer-songwriter releases her best album to date. Can’t wait to hear her live again in 2021!

Kathleen Edwards – Total Freedom. The Canadian singer-songwriter with a perfect voice returns from self-imposed exile. (She opened a Coffee Shop named Quitters when she semi-retired from music several years ago).

Margo Price – That’s How Rumors get Started. Trad Country renegade rocks hard on her latest release.

Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band – Letter to You. The boss and crew are back with a powerful release. Hoping to see them live someday soon!

Jake Blount –Spider Tales. – A traditional roots album brings national acclaim for Providence-based Jake Blount.

Joni Mitchell – Archives: The Early Years 1963-1967. Listen to true musical genius develop. Best box set of the year!

Black Pumas – Black Pumas – Retro modern sounds from a rising band that perfectly blends R&B, rock and soul!

Courtney Marie Andrews – Old Flowers. A Grammy nominated traditional country sound with a modern twist.

Honorable Mention: Tyler Childers, Country Squire; Bob Dylan, Rough and Rowdy Ways; Neil Young, Homegrown; Taylor Swift, Folklore; Sturgill Simpson – Cuttin’ Grass, Vol. 1: The Butcher Shoppe Sessions; Lucinda Williams, Good Souls, Better Angels; Steve Earle, Ghosts of West Virginia; Gillian Welch, All the Good Times; Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher; Jeff Tweedy- Love is King; Secret Sister – Saturn Rising; Chrissy Stewart – House of Christina; Nova One – Lovable.

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Ken Abrams

Lifestyle Editor Ken Abrams writes about music and more for What'sUpNewp, Providence Monthly, SO RI, and The Bay. He DJ's "The Kingston Coffeehouse" Tuesday nights, 6-9 PM on WRIU 90.3 FM.