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Top Country Albums of 2010

2010 was an extraordinary year for country music, as seasoned performers reinvented themselves in ways we never thought possible and previously untapped talent exploded onto the scene. After hours of debating, The Boot presents our top 10 country albums of 2010 — not just the biggest sellers or radio pleasers but the albums that we believe made the biggest mark on this first year of the decade.

Josh Turner, ‘Haywire’
Standout Song: ‘Let’s Find a Church’
Country’s perfect gentleman reminds every woman what type of man she should be looking for with songs like ‘As Fast as I Could,’ ‘I’ll Be There’ and ‘Your Smile.’ And, honestly, who can keep from grooving to the four-week No. 1, ‘Why Don’t We Just Dance’?
Josh Turner, 'Haywire'
Blake Shelton, ‘All About Tonight’
Standout Song: ‘Draggin’ the River’ (With Miranda Lambert)
It may only include six songs, but Blake‘s latest CD proves that quality outshines quantity. The EP covers the spectrum with ‘Who Are You When I’m Not Looking,’ which the Oklahoma native refers to as “the perfect pickup line,” to the unorthodox love-story duet with his fiancée, Miranda Lambert, ‘Draggin’ the River,’ to his rowdy party song ‘All About Tonight.’
Blake Shelton, 'All About Tonight'
Jerrod Niemann, ‘Judge Jerrod and the Hung Jury’
Standout Song: ‘Old School New Again’
A true labor of love, Jerrod Niemann recorded this album on his own, without a label affiliation, and filled it with heartfelt songs and light-hearted vignettes. The record covers all the facets of the charming Kansas native’s personality, from the good-timing ‘One More Drinkin’ Song’ to the lovers’ lament of ‘What Do You Want.’
Jerrod Niemann, 'Judge Jerrod and the Hung Jury'
The Band Perry, ‘The Band Perry’
Standout Song: ‘Walk Me Down the Middle’
You take Kimberly Perry’s fairytale, poetic writing skills, combine them with her sweet voice and pair her with her brothers Reid and Neil, and you get a Band Perry album that uses mountain sound to transport listeners to everywhere from Paris to their local county fair. Whimsical tunes such as ‘All Your Life’ and the haunting ‘If I Die Young’ fit perfectly with the confident kiss-off tune, ‘Quittin’ You,’ and the defiant ‘You Lie.’
The Band Perry, 'The Band Perry'
Jamey Johnson, ‘The Guitar Song’
Standout Song: ‘That’s Why I Write Songs’
We didn’t need 25 tracks to tell us how great a songwriter Jamey Johnson is, but you also won’t hear us complain about the variety and richness in each song. From the Merle Haggard-esque ‘Can’t Cash My Checks’ to the high-life-denouncing ‘Playing the Part,’ and soul-baring, mostly spoken ‘That’s Why I Write Songs,’ Jamey stays true to his lower Alabama country roots.
Jamey Johnson, 'The Guitar Song'
Lady Antebellum, ‘Need You Now’
Standout Song: ‘Hello World’
‘Need You Now’ catapulted the already triumphant trio into superstardom, making Lady Antebellum the biggest-selling band of the year — in any genre. Four straight No. 1 singles with ‘Need You Now’ (which also won the CMA and ACM Single of the Year trophies), ‘Our Kind of Love,’ ‘Hello World’ and ‘American Honey’ are more than ample proof of the group’s mass appeal.
Lady Antebellum, 'Need You Now'
Darius Rucker, ‘Charleston, SC 1966′
Standout Song: ‘In a Big Way’
Taking inspiration from Radney Foster‘s ‘Del Rio, Texas 1957,’ Darius named his sophomore country release after his own birthplace and year. Whether it’s the humorous break from life, ‘I Don’t Care,’ featuring Brad Paisley, or the family-centered, count-your-blessings ‘This,’ Darius shows off his songwriting mastery and dedication to the format.
Darius Rucker, 'Charleston, SC 1966'
Zac Brown Band, ‘You Get What You Give’
Standout Song: ‘Colder Weather’
The Zac Brown Band‘s second album covers everything from road tunes to beach jams and even a love song or two. There’s the melancholy, piano-driven ‘Colder Weather,’ the reggae-infused ‘Who Knows,’ the harmony-filled ‘As She’s Walking Away,’ and the upbeat, optimistic ‘Knee Deep,’ to make this one of the most eclectic projects of the year.
Zac Brown Band, 'You Get What You Give'
Taylor Swift, ‘Speak Now’
Standout Song: ‘Never Grow Up’
Yes, she sold a million copies in the CD’s first week and broke the record for best first week since 50 Cent‘s 2005 album, but Taylor also happened to make a really good album, filled with songs she wrote all by herself. She fantasies about breaking up a wedding in ‘Speak Now,’ calls out past adversaries in ‘Mean’ and recognizes new loves with the chemistry-driven ‘Enchanted.’
Taylor Swift, 'Speak Now'
Dierks Bentley, ‘Up on the Ridge’
Standout Song: ‘Fallin’ for You’
A bluegrass-inspired album may have been the last thing folks expected Dierks to release this year, but he’s more than shown us all how needed it was. Classic country themes come through in songs such as the straightforward ‘You’re Dead to Me,’ the good-versus-evil battle in ‘Bad Angel,’ the redemptive ‘Draw Me a Map’ and the good ole drinking song ‘Bottle to the Bottom.’
Dierks Bentley, 'Up on the Ridge'

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