Full-length albums have always been a way for artists to connect with fans and share the personal journeys behind their hit songs.

But in 2023, artists shared their hearts more than ever. In fact, all of Taste of Country's Top 10 albums of the year have one thing in common: Each of them opened up the artist's innermost thoughts about a personal evolution or life stage that they went through before or while making it.

A painful divorce, a homeward quest and an evolution toward family-focused maturity are just three of the themes embraced on this year's top albums list. These projects set the bar high: So high, in fact, that some of the finest country albums of the year, including Luke Combs' Gettin' Old and Zach Bryan's self-titled album, didn't make the cut. Honorable mentions also go to Brandy Clark's self-titled project, Dustin Lynch's Killed the Cowboy and Hardy's The Mockingbird & the Crow, all albums that found innovative, groundbreaking ways to be vulnerable and connect to listeners.

Scroll through the list below to see Taste of Country's list of critic's picks, with only minor consideration given to sales or chart success. A team of staff writers worked together to create this list.

The 10 Best Country Albums of 2023 - Critic's Picks

In 2023, the album format was much more than just a way for artists to collect and organize their songs. In fact, the best albums of the year often doubled as diaries for the artist's journey through a new life stage or personal evolution.

So many artists upped their game that it was impossible to include them all in this list. Luke Combs' Gettin' Old and Hardy's The Mockingbird & the Crow only made it to honorable mention status, which says a lot about just how high the bar was for great, transformative albums in 2023. Special shout-outs are also due to self-titled records from Zach Bryan and Brandy Clark, who released excellent personal statement projects this year, and Dustin Lynch, who delivered unflinching honesty in his album, Killed the Cowboy.

But ultimately, the Top 10 albums of 2023 were master classes in self-reflection and growth; the artists who made them have hit their stride or are still on endless quests towards personal and artistic fulfillment.

Read on for Taste of Country's best albums of 2023, which were picked by a team of staff writers.

Gallery Credit: Carena Liptak

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