What do a 61-year-old Texan, a reggae-loving beach bum, a few television actors and the guy from Hootie & the Blowfish have in common? For starters, they all appear in our roundup of the month's best country records, sitting alongside three small-town girls looking to reinvent traditional sounds, a middle-aged cowboy in love with love, and quite a few more. Where Darius Rucker (the Hootie guy, of course) seeks country music as an escape from his earlier travels in an adult contemporary jam band, former Dixie Chicks singer Natalie Maines moves in nearly the opposite direction, leaving country to work with Ben Harper on a rocking 10-song cover album. Lady Antebellum, meanwhile, made what might be the month's most accessible album, a pop-leaning set filled with potential hits. Listen to all of that, as well as records by Craig Campbell and Jason Boland, in our May 2013 playlist.
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