Annal: 2004 Grammy Award for Best Country Album

Results of the Grammy Award in the year 2004.

Album:Van Lear Rose

Van Lear Rose

Loretta Lynn

Garage-rock hero Jack White producing honky-tonk legend Loretta Lynn? And Lynn comparing him to renowned Nashville producer Owen Bradley? Yes, we all know the world is rapidly shrinking, but now we’ve seen everything. Most stunning of all—they nailed it. For the first time, Lynn has written all of an album’s songs, and her lyrics are as cutting and incisive as ever. On the powerful, biting “Family Tree,” she brings her babies to the home of her husband’s mistress so that they can see the “woman that’s burning down our family tree.” Throughout she cunningly…

Album:Be Here

Be Here

Keith Urban

Australian-born Keith Urban, hot off the double-platinum success of his 2002 sophomore album, Golden Road, is kind of like contemporary country’s Tom Cruise. The kid is just so unjustly talented, likeable, and good-looking that it’s hard not to hate him. But such jealousy is apt to melt into begrudging admiration and affection after a quick listen to this third album. True, some of Urban’s self-penned adolescent love laments and bright-eyed paeans to life in the slow lane do sound a bit callow and derivative. But, with his resolute tenor and his…

Album:Here for the Party

Here for the Party

Gretchen Wilson

Her mother was 16 when she had her, and her father moved on when she was two. By the age of 15, with a double-barrel shotgun always at the ready, she was managing a kicker bar in rural Illinois where the corn fields meet the pig farms. That gave Gretchen Wilson something to sing about, with attitude in spades. “You might think I’m trashy, a little too hardcore,” she admits on the smash single “Redneck Woman,” “but in my neck of the woods I’m just the girl next door.” Wilson, already the toast of Nashville before this full-length debut hit the shelves, isn’t just…

Album:Live Like You Were Dying

Live Like You Were Dying

Tim McGraw

On the back cover of his ninth album Tim McGraw sits atop a horse, which just happens to be standing in the foyer of an elegant home. McGraw sits backwards in the saddle, looking not at where he’s going, but where he’s been. The image tips off the theme of this solid, 16-song album—for a singer who doesn’t write, it’s as close to autobiography as it gets. “How Bad Do You Want It,” for example references not only bluesman Robert Johnson’s crossroads chat with ol’ Lucifer, but also the kind of relentless drive that got McGraw to the top of the Nashville heap. The…

Album:Tambourine

Tambourine

Tift Merritt

Merritt’s resonant if somewhat conventionally alt-country debut Bramble Rose did little to predict this blue-eyed-soul breakout. A mix of hard-charging guitar rockers, horn-charted grooves, and pensive singer-songwriter ballads, Tambourine might have resulted in a stylistic hodge-podge, but producer George Drakoulias lends the same punchy, live-tracked vitality that distinguished the best work of the Jayhawks, Black Crowes, and Maria McKee. Merritt taps deep into her southern musical roots to find her own voice, and that voice has fully…

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