Rosanne Cash, Justin Townes Earle, Miranda Lambert and the rest of 2009's most notable country releases
The year in country music brought some noteworthy breakthroughs (Jamey Johnson, Randy Houser) and some negligible ones (the overhyped Zac Brown Band, the inconsistent yet promising Lady Antebellum), while country-pop queen Taylor Swift posted another stellar performance.
More than ever, the most deeply touching music generally came from acts relegated to the commercial sidelines known as Americana or alt-country.
-- Randy Lewis
Photo, top left: Miranda Lambert. Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times
Photo, top middle: Justin Townes Earle. Credit: Joshua Black Wilkins / Bloodshot Records
Photo, top right: Rosanne Cash. Credit: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times