Alison Krauss' 'Windy City' Storms Charts; Lauren Alaina Earns First Airplay Top 10

Randee St. Nicholas
Alison Krauss

Windy City, Alison Krauss' first solo album of new material since 1999, bounds in atop Billboard's Top Country Albums and Bluegrass Albums charts (dated March 11). It earns 38,000 equivalent albums (36,000 in pure sales) in its launch week, ending Feb. 23, according to Nielsen Music. (The latter list is purely sales-based.)

The Buddy Cannon-produced Windy City marks Krauss' second No. 1 and 10th top 10 on Top Country Albums. She first led with prior entry Paper Airplane, with Union Station, which flew in atop the survey dated April 30, 2011 (83,000 sold). She has charted all 10 top 10s on the list consecutively since 1995.

Windy City is Krauss' first solo album of new material since Forget About It, which debuted and peaked at No. 3 on the Top Country Albums chart dated Aug. 21, 1999. In between, her solo best-of package A Hundred Miles or More: A Collection debuted and peaked at No. 3 on the April 21, 2007, tally.

Over on Bluegrass Albums, the new LP is Krauss' fourth consecutive (and total) No. 1, following three with Union Station: Paper Airplane (28 weeks at No. 1), Lonely Runs Both Ways (55 weeks on top, beginning in 2004) and Live (a record 101 weeks at No. 1 starting in 2002).

On the all-genre Billboard 200, Windy City blows in at No. 5, marking Krauss' fourth top 10 (all charted consecutively since 2007). The set also starts at No. 2 on Americana/Folk Albums.

All of Windy City's songs were previously recorded by other artists, including "Gentle on My Mind" (John Hartford), "River in the Rain" (Roger Miller) and "I Never Cared for You" (Willie Nelson).

NEW TOP 10s: On Hot Country Songs, paced for a third week by Sam Hunt's "Body Like a Back Road," Jason Aldean achieves his 26th top 10, as "Any Ol' Barstool" rolls 15-8. The track holds at its No. 10 high on Country Airplay (26.2 million, up 3 percent).

Meanwhile, as Little Big Town's "Better Man," penned by Taylor Swift, leads Country Airplay for a second week (41.4 million impressions, up 3 percent), Lauren Alaina banks her first top 10 in her sixth appearance on the chart, as "Road Less Traveled" lifts 11-9 (26.8 million, up 9 percent). The song, which Alaina wrote with Meghan Trainor and Jessie Frasure, is the title track from her second LP, which debuted at No. 3 on Top Country Albums (Feb. 18).

Alaina, who finished as the runner-up to Scotty McCreery on the 2011 season of American Idol, previously peaked at a No. 28 high on Country Airplay with "Georgia Peaches" (2012), her second charted single. She notched two other top 40-charting songs: her 2011 debut, "Like My Mother Does" (No. 36), and 2012's "Eighteen Inches" (No. 34).

What made the difference for "Road" to reach the Country Airplay top 10? "The vocal comes from the heart, and the production uniquely matches the message," radio consultant Joel Raab tells Billboard. "Lauren sings so well, and it's just a great message."

WKLB Boston program director Mike Brophey concurs. "'The Road Less Traveled' is just a better song," he says. "The vocals are strong and passionate, and the lyrics are compelling and relatable. It was a slow builder for us but has kicked in nicely. While Lauren has had previous releases, to many listeners, in their minds, this is her first."

'GOLD' RECORD: Gold, the third EP from Jessie James Decker, matches her highest arrival on Top Country Albums as the five-song set starts at No. 5 with 15,000 equivalent album units (12,000 in pure sales, marking her best sales week). Her 2012 debut EP, Comin' Home, also debuted (and peaked) at No. 5 (11,000 sold), while her second, 2015's This Christmas, launched and peaked at No. 16 (6,000).