2015 Grammy Awards: Best Country Album prediction and analysis

2015 Grammy Awards: Best Country Album nominees

Riser, Dierks Bentley
The Outsiders, Eric Church
12 Stories, Brandy Clark
Platinum, Miranda Lambert
The Way I'm Livin,' Lee Ann Womack

The race for Best Country Album at the 2015 Grammys features five artists who have never won the award before. The contest this year should come down to Miranda Lambert vs. Eric Church, with the most deserving nominee, Brandy Clark, relegated to dark horse status.

As one half of country music's power couple with husband Blake Shelton, Lambert is considered the frontrunner by most observers. She has won Best Female Vocalist for five straight years at the CMA Awards, and Platinum won Album of the Year there.

So far, Platinum produced hit singles “Automatic,” “Somethin' Bad” with Carrie Underwood, and “Smokin' and Drinkin'” with Little Big Town. It would be no surprise to see Lambert take home the Grammy here.

The complication is the presence of newcomer Brandy Clark, nominated for her stellar album 12 Stories. Clark is a frequent collaborator of Kacey Musgraves, last year's winner in this category, and will have a fair amount of Recording Academy support here. Though the album didn't spawn any major hits, its acclaimed songs were richly detailed personal stories laced with deceptive wit. Clark is also a Best New Artist contender.

Clark probably won't get enough votes to win, but she may steal enough votes away from Lambert to allow Eric Church to sneak in and take the victory. Church is performing on the Grammy broadcast, which gives him added attention and credibility. Church's The Outsiders has created four hits: the title track, “Cold One,” “Talladega,” and “Give Me Back My Hometown,” an excellent track which is up for two other awards.

Dierks Bentley and Lee Ann Womack are both former Best Country Album nominees, but neither Riser nor The Way I'm Livin' figures to be able to compete with Lambert and Church's more commercially successful releases.

Conventional wisdom says Lambert should win Best Country Album, but we have a feeling that Clark will split the vote with Lambert just enough to give Church the slimmest of wins. Our call is for Eric Church to win Best Country Album for The Outsiders. Find out who claims the honor when the 2015 Grammy Awards take place on February 8 in Los Angeles.

Should win: 12 Stories, Brandy Clark
Will win: The Outsiders, Eric Church
Should have been nominated: Sundown Heaven Town, Tim McGraw