Listening to country music in 2017 is a bit of an experience. The genre has a difficult history, as a huge cultural part of the south, country and folk have often had to face down their own complicated past when it comes to issues of slavery, racism, and prejudice. Accordingly, this lists seeks to highlight artists who purposefully break with tradition and incorporate those who take a wider and more inclusive stance in the country music world.
From the incredible fourth record by Valerie June — a black artist who thoroughly maintains her status as country — to new albums from old legends like Rodney Crowell, plenty of roots music this year is challenging the past while also confronting our new American reality. Check out my picks below.