Written by Brett Gibbons
2020 was a year that generally sucked– concerts were cancelled and artists struggled to make ends meet. However, it was also one of the best years for new music in recent memory.
With that year firmly in the past, it’s time to focus on 2021 and all the great music that will be released. If it can come even close to what 2020 offered, we’re in for a great year of country music.
Since there’s been very little as far as live music goes, rumored upcoming projects are tough to come by. Some artists are putting their releases on hold until they can tour again, while others are keeping what they have under wraps.
Without much more needing to be said, let’s dive into what 2021 may offer, including anticipated releases, artists who are due for new music, and our inaugural breakout predictions.
MOST ANTICIPATED RELEASES
Not much has been announced for 2021 (yet) in terms of project names, release dates, etc., but we do know artists who are rumored to be in line for a release.
- Aaron Watson, American Soul (Jan. 8)– His last record, Red Bandana, was said to be his last. However, Watson is back at it with another full-length record full of classic Texas country music. Five singles were released ahead of time in 2020, but this should be one of the better albums of the coming year released right at the start.
- Morgan Wallen, Dangerous (Jan. 8)– Oops. Just days away from its release, regional Walmarts had Wallen’s second record on their shelves. In response, he dropped leak links to three more songs in addition to his three he released in November. Did we mention it’s a double album? Because it is.
- Various Artists, A MusicFest Tribute to Cody Canada (Jan. 8)– Cody Canada of Cross Canadian Ragweed is getting a tribute album akin to Mötley Crüe and Waylon Jennings. It’s jam-packed with Texas artists like Parker McCollum, Randy Rogers, Wade Bowen, and Casey Donahew. It even has a track by American Aquarium’s BJ Barham.
- Kip Moore, Wild World Deluxe (Feb. 12)– We loved everything about Wild World, released in Summer 2020. Kip is adding four songs to the acclaimed record, the first of which (Don’t Go Changing) was released in late 2020. We expect more raw Kip Moore that he’s grown fully into.
- Florida Georgia Line, Life Rolls On (Feb. 12)– Love them or hate them, you’ll hear most of these songs eventually. The radio is all over FGL. Not much is known about this release except that it’s more of the same, for better or for worse.
- Willie Nelson, That’s Life (Feb. 26)– Willie releases an album every single year, even at 87 years old. He has one of the most elaborate song libraries regardless of genre, and the Texan is back at it in 2021.
- Chase Rice, The Album Pt. 3 (“Early 2021”)– He’s dropped hints at this being an ongoing thing and Rice has released a version of The Album each year for the past two years. He’s “deciding” whether or not to release it “early this year.”
- Carrie Underwood, My Savior (Spring)– It’s undated, but expect Carrie Underwood’s first gospel record to be released somewhere around the Easter holiday (April 4). Her holiday record released in November 2020 heavily featured gospel songs, a route we expect Underwood to follow moving forward.
- Tim McGraw, Here On Earth Deluxe (Spring)– Another undated project likely slated for April or May. McGraw released Here On Earth in August 2020 and it was met with mixed reviews. It’s a far cry from the original Tim McGraw sound, but not all artists follow the same linear path. Two more tracks will be added to the existing record.
EPs are typically announced with short notice.
- Devin Dawson, The Pink Slip (Jan. 15)– Devin Dawson has made a ton of friends in Nashville and is an artist on the verge of breakout. It’s his first career EP release and first non-single release since his Dark Horse album in 2018. We expect his three 2020 releases (I Got A Truck, Range Rover, and He Loved Her) to be a part of the six-song EP.
Typically, singles are announced just a week or two out. There’s not a ton of heads-up from these, so we’ll keep them short.
- Taylor Acorn, Untitled– Jan. 8
- Tim McGraw feat. Tyler Hubbard, Undivided– Jan. 13
- Tyler Chambers, I Saw Your Car– Jan. 15
- Jon Langston, Try Missing You– Undated, but likely January
- Chad Cooke Band, Country Like You (Acoustic)– Feb. 12
Projects that have been announced to be happening, but have not been given dates (or names) yet.
- Carly Rogers, Untitled– She didn’t leak too many details to us, just that there’s an album coming in 2021 that’ll include her 2020 releases.
- Muscadine Bloodline, Untitled– Muscadine is big on hints, not big on details. We don’t know when nor what to expect on them, but they announced that there will be not one but two full length records coming in 2021.
- Cody Johnson, Untitled– His hints have been subtle and far between, but Johnson is releasing an 18-track record that’s supposedly ready to go (NFR Rodeo Podcast). He seems like someone who will wait until he can get back on the road to share those songs with the world, likely first via live shows.
- Kenton Bryant, Untitled– He’s releasing his first song off the project, Covered In Dirt, in early January. The rest is to follow suit, though we don’t know much about it outside of a handful of short clips he released in November.
- Chris Young– In 2020, Young released three songs– Famous Friends (feat. Kane Brown), If That Ain’t God, and Drowning (Piano Version). It’s unclear which, if any, will be on a record that’s only rumored to be coming.
- Eric Church– The Chief has something brewing. It was announced before 2020 even started that Church was holed up somewhere working on a project without ceasing. It was reportedly written and recorded all at once. A bunch of it has been released, but so far no date nor title has been given for the final culmination.
- Jason Aldean– Aldean’s riding high on Got What I Got‘s radio success despite it being released in early 2019. However, using the every-other-year formula for major artists releases, we can expect a record from Aldean this year.
- Thomas Rhett– What’s Your Country Song is the only release we have to go off so far, but it’s been two years since Thomas Rhett released a record. Nothing’s been put out there (yet), but the rumor mill is whispering Rhett’s name.
- Drake White– This one is speculative on our own accord. White just released a comeback EP, Stars, in 2020, but he’s been writing a ton of music on his weekly Wednesday Night Therapy livestreams. It would make sense for him to release a few of these.
- Trey Lewis– The D*cked Down In Dallas phenom isn’t really just the D*cked Down In Dallas phenom. Thankfully, the rest of the world is following suit on Lewis’ library that’s comprised of a series of EPs and even an album dating back to 2013. A true overnight sensation.
- Lainey Wilson– We mentioned her as a 2020 breakout on our 2020 Music Review episode. She had a solid year filled with releases, but Lainey Wilson cannot be ignored any longer. She’s pure genius, ingenuity, talent, and badassery.
- Cody Johnson– Believe it or not, Cody Johnson hasn’t truly broken out. In Texas, he’s a modern day legend, but to the national and global scale, Johnson is a newcomer out of the Lonestar State. Dear Rodeo garnered some serious attention, but his next record will push Johnson to nuclear levels of stardom.
- Robyn Ottolini– Watch out– Robyn’s first radio single, F-150, impacts radio in mid-February. We’re projecting it to go #1 rather quickly considering it’s garnered over 6 million streams on Spotify. F-150 is also so wildly successful that it landed her a record deal with Warner.
- Devin Dawson– Dawson’s been in writing circles and studios for years making friends with some of Nashville’s biggest up-and-coming stars. He’s primed to release his first EP in February, which we expect to be one of the most talked about releases in the first quarter of 2021.
- Ray Fulcher– It was a rather quiet year for Fulcher, who released two singles– Love Ya Son, Go Dawgs and I Got It All. He’s one of Nashville’s finest songwriters (including major credits on most of Luke Combs’ work) and it creeps into his own music. 2021 is about to be huge for the Georgia native.
As the year progresses, we’ll get a much better idea for what 2021 will have in store as far as music goes. Many works are being kept close to the chest and, without live shows, most of what’s upcoming is still unknown. As the world (hopefully) crawls back to normal, major announcements will happen over some seriously exciting works.