Archive for the ‘Favourite CDs of the Year’ Tag
A bit late but understandable being how busy editor Aaron Keith Harris is, today brings the release of the Lonesome Road Review’s top 10 bluegrass albums of the past year. I’m pleased to see that Aaron and my LRR colleague Larry Stephens agreed with me in several places, quite likely more than I expected, and I’ve written positively about each of the albums here or elsewhere with perhaps the exception of the #1 album, another that I really enjoyed and purchased both digitally and on vinyl. My only complaint about the Old Memories album is the rather spartan packaging- no gatefold, no liner notes, and the vinyl itself is not as hefty as other recently produced album offerings; still, a terrific album of music.
Each of my top 5 albums made the list and I hope that these placements help some of you make some purchasing decisions. None of the artists who made the list, with the exception of AKUS, is living the high life; most are folks with extensive experience in the bluegrass world, having spent years on the road and are well deserving of any recognition they receive. Of course, I’m absolutely thrilled to see three particular names on the Lonesome Road Review list: Dale Ann Bradley, John Reischman & the Jaybirds, and James Reams & the Barnstormers. See my Top 10 here http://tinyurl.com/873u42u and visit the LRR to see the complete 2011 Top 10: http://lonesomeroadreview.com/2012/01/21/the-lonesome-road-reviews-list-of-top-10-bluegrass-cds-of-2011/
As always, thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald
In today’s Red Deer Advocate I reviewed the recent Guy Clark tribute, This One’s For Him. I’ll post that in a few weeks, but for now here is the overview of Alberta releases that ran a couple weeks back.
Wonderful roots music came out of our province this past year, and today I take a look back on my favourite Alberta roots music albums of 2011.
The rootsy-pop of another era returned this summer with the release of Idyl Tea’s first album in sixteen years. Once a fixture of Edmonton clubs, the Idyl Tea trio surprised with the strength of their double album Song That’s Not Finished Yet- The Unthology. Infectious pop melodies with more than enough country overtones for roots rock- heck, if Mumford and Sons and the Avett Brothers are considered roots, Idyl Tea certainly qualify. On this double album, Idyl Tea combines that which connects country and power pop: bright melodies, devastating confession through lyric, and the breezy ability to convey unmistakable melancholy. ”A Guitar and A Broken Heart,” “Just a Road”- an Americana gathering in hell-”Penitent Song,” and “Dark Day in Edmonton” are simply wonderful while the companion collection of outtakes and demos reveal the group’s unrealized, original potential.
Edmonton’s Mark Davis continued his ascension as one of Canada’s critically lauded roots artists. Eliminate the Toxins was even more adventurous than his previous releases but retained the intense focus and introspection one has come to expect from a singer-songwriter whose best works can be appreciated on a poetic level while also serving as impetus to dance, albeit dance slowly. Davis’s music has a cinematic quality that cries out for visual interpretation. In the year we lost Jackie Leven, Mark Davis filled the chasm admirably. Multi-layered, Eliminate the Toxins is so all-encompassing that listeners will find themselves sinking into its warmth.
Captain Tractor’s Famous Last Words was largely ignored at radio but served as a welcome return for the Edmonton collective. Lively stuff, based in tradition (Celtic sing-alongs including “Diamond Joe” “Johnny’s Ghost”) but with no lack of originality and creativity. The songs possesss universal appeal with lots of Alberta references- hockey games, cannibalism (an epic song from Australia sure, but the events described could have just as easily happened on western Canadian prairies), open highways, and local rebellion. This well-played album benefited greatly from the contributions of fiddler Shannon Johnson.
Previously unknown to me, on Valley Home Joe Vickers documented the history of the Drumheller Valley with a focus on the stories and impact of the coal mining experience. Utilizing a variety of approaches, sounds, and tempos, Vickers created a compelling and insightful account of his home community. His music was rustic with acoustic guitar, fiddle, and banjo coming through the neo-traditional mix. More than a history lesson, Valley Home was an engaging set of lively folk-inspired music touching on a broad cross-section of tales: pit ponies, the flooded Red Deer River, Allan Cup champions, ghost towns, miners, and madams.
Collecting 14 seamlessly brilliant offerings, this spring Ben Sures released his most fully-realized recording. Gone to Bolivia opened with a pair of absolutely devastating songs including “American Shantytown” and “High School Steps.” “The Boy Who Walked Backwards Through the Snow” deserves to become a Canadian folk standard. Creating wonderful, fully realized songs of depth with lyrical gems hidden throughout, Sures remains an invigorating voice within the crowded Canadian folk market.
Donald Teplyske’s favourite ten bluegrass albums of 2011:
Unlike last year, I feel that I did a very good job of ensuring that I heard the vast majority of excellent bluegrass that was released in 2011. I’m still not being serviced by one particular publicist and a couple of the major bluegrass labels, but others keep me ‘in the know’ and I’ve been able to continue purchasing other albums as I’ve become aware of them. Still, there are no doubt outstanding albums I’ve missed, albums that I may have enjoyed and favourably reviewed- Clay Hess, Darin & Brooke Aldridge, Grasstowne, and others. But I am more than aware that you can’t hear everything and so what follows is my Ten Favourite Bluegrass Albums of 2011 as submitted to the Lonesome Road Review survey. The paragraphs that follow have been largely recycled from my previously written reviews of the albums.
- Dale Ann Bradley- Somewhere South of Crazy (Compass) Critically lauded, praised and recognized by her industry and a fan favourite wherever she appears, Dale Ann Bradley’s third Compass album, and eighth overall, continues her measured but steady ascension to the highest levels of bluegrass performance and reverence. Again working with producer Alison Brown, Somewhere South of Crazy is Bradley’s most obviously contemporary bluegrass recording. Over recent albums, Bradley’s music has become increasingly polished while retaining the traditional spirit that has been her hallmark. It is this duality that makes Bradley’s music so appealing. As a recording artist should, Dale Ann Bradley improves her performance with each album. Fully realized and confident, Bradley exudes bluegrass and has never sounded better than on Somewhere South of Crazy.
- John Reischman & the Jaybirds- Vintage & Unique (Corvus) Over the past decade, John Reischman & the Jaybirds have become increasing popular in western North America. They are a great bluegrass band, always adding new material to their repertoire. Still, when exceptional mandolin players are mentioned, John Reischman’s name is often forgotten. On Vintage and Unique, the quintet takes Bill Monroe’s “The First Whippoorwill” for a spin and refreshes “Shady Grove” and “Last Chance.” Trisha Gagnon and Jim Nunally’s voices- which always sound wonderful together- are especially beautiful throughout this recording. The band delivers new songs alongside their reimagining of classic and long-forgotten tunes. “The Cypress Hills” and “Consider Me Gone” are just waiting to be discovered, while “Cold Mountain (Cam Saan)” examines the Canadian railway experience of Chinese labourers. Every track, each break and harmonic moment are highlights within a flawless album.
- Larry Sparks- Almost Home (Rounder) An album of blue mountain memories: sons returning home, family history, faith, country roads, lonesomeness, country stars, Sunday dinners with nanner puddin’, and Momma’s apron strings. Larry Sparks’ voice continues to be pure and strong and the instrumental accompaniment he receives on this disc- largely from his touring band- is second to none. There remains a naturalness about the way Sparks approaches his music that is incredibly appealing.
- Alison Krauss & Union Station- Paper Airplane (Rounder)A delicate balance of the wistful-yearnsomeness that appeals to a wide-spectrum of the population and the more driving bluegrass sounds that link to the traditional foundation of the band’s history, Paper Airplane is three-quarters of an hour of pure aural pleasure. AKUS further refine the acoustiblue parameters that they have established and explored over the past fifteen years since So Long, So Wrong. The acoustic instrumentation is, as expected, exemplary in its tone and execution and while some of the songs- it could be argued- have a similar calm and sedate sound, there are enough lively moments to maintain momentum. Singularly, the songs are arrestingly enjoyable. Collectively, the cohesive flow of Paper Airplane amounts to one majestic performance.
- James Reams & The Barnstormers- One Foot in the Honky Tonk (Mountain Redbird Music) A wonderful bluegrass album that is just waiting for more of us to discover. As he has consistently done, within this new volume James Reams’ life experiences and those of his ancestors permeate the songs- whether he wrote them or not- not lending them authenticity but ensuring they are authentic. When listening to James Reams, one is on a bridge connecting the present to the past, where the waters below blend the relationships and lamentations of today with those who birthed and shaped them. There are few bluegrass singers who match the lithe and masculine timbre Reams brings to the songs he is called to perform. With One Foot in the Honky Tonk, James Reams further defines his bluegrass, blending the varied elements of the roadhouse with sounds from the hills of Kentucky and her neighbors. One foot in the honky-tonk indeed, but the rest of the Barnstormers’ bodies and their souls are deep in the bluegrass performing songs from the likes of Kevin Welch and Mike Henderson, Chris Gaffney, Fred Eaglesmith, Stonewall Jackson and Harlan Howard- folks who know honky tonks, to be sure- as well as original and traditional tunes.
- Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice- The Heart of a Song (Rebel Records)
- Blue Highway- Sounds of Home (Rounder)
- Laurie Lewis- Skippin’ and Flyin’ (Spruce and Maple Music)
- Steve Martin & the Steep Canyon Rangers- Rare Bird Alert (Rounder)
- Rebel Records digital reissue campaign featuring releases from Ralph Stanley, The McPeak Brothers, Bill Grant and Delia Bell, Dave Evans, and others.
Honourable mentions to: Charlie Sizemore Heartache Looking for a Home, Ralph Stanley A Mother’s Prayer, Barnstar! C’mon, Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper Fired Up, Sarah Jarosz Follow Me Down, Dehlia Low Ravens & Crows, Paul Williams & the Victory Trio Satisfied and The Del McCoury Band Old Memories.
As always, thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald
Not necessarily the ‘best’- I’ll leave that to those whose egos require such- No, these are just 25 albums that kept my roots fire burning during the past 12 months. With all the albums I’ve listened to through 2011, it has been these 25 that I believe I’ve returned to the most often- albums that have moved me, made me think, made me dance, and- in some cases- made me write. They’ve kept me awake, they’ve put me to sleep, and a few disturbed my dreams. You’ll notice that several of the big names are missing from my list- Steve, Lucinda, Emmylou, Hayes- and that isn’t because I hated their recent releases; they didn’t become favourites of mine simply because I wasn’t motivated to return to them- for whatever reasons- after the initial or second listening. More Canadian content this year, perhaps. You can read about most of these albums here at Fervor Coulee- do a quick search.
1. Dave Alvin- Eleven Eleven I’ve likely misplaced this album as many times as I’ve listened to it. It has disappeared in the truck, in the car, at the home office and at work, in the living room, and in the sun room. I think that is a testament to how Eleven Eleven worked its way into me- I find I can listen to it anywhere and it always works. Great songs will do that, I suppose.
2. Dale Ann Bradley- Somewhere South of Crazy Another incredible album from this Kentucky woman; while her music has always been inspiring and wonderful to listen to, since joining Compass Records, Dale has truly hit her stride. Bradley’s favourite duet and harmony partner (and recently announced as bandmate) Steve Gulley appears on all but the final track and their stellar performance of the great country song “Will You Visit Me on Sundays” is well deserving of recognition. Additionally, his guitar playing throughout the album- notably on “Summer Breeze”- is masterful. Also featured as the core band are Brown, Stuart Duncan, Sierra Hull, and Mike Bub.
3. The Deep Dark Woods- The Place I Left Behind The Deep Dark Woods’ latest album builds on everything they’ve already accomplished while taking their unique bluesy sound to impressive new levels. In 2011 no one talked in terms of alt-country, but that remains an apt descriptor of this Saskatoon band’s guitar-heavy sound. Sinister and mysterious, the title track doesn’t mess around: guest fiddler Kendel Carson weaves a cloak of darkness around Ryan Boldt’s vocals as a “good old rambling boy” pines for the place were isolation didn’t seem so obvious.
4. Mark Davis- Eliminate the Toxins Eliminate the Toxins has a sound that is even more adventurous than his previous releases but retains the intense focus and introspection one has come to expect from a singer-songwriter whose best works can be appreciated on a poetic level while also serving as impetus to dance, albeit dance slowly. Similar to Stan Ridgeway, Davis’s music has a cinematic quality that cries out for visual interpretation. “Go to Ground,” one of Eliminate the Toxins’ more catchy numbers, is easy to imagine as soundtrack to a dark, desolate desert pursuit from which the conflicted protagonist has no hope to escape. “In the Waters” and the title track are cleverly-crafted pop songs bathed in a wash of guitars and harmonies harnessed from years of exposure to The Byrds, Nice Cave, and Calexico.
Working with Calgary’s Lorrie Matheson, Davis benefits from his co-producer’s willingness to consider sonic possibilities. Multi-layered, Eliminate the Toxins is so all-encompassing that listeners will find themselves sinking into its warmth.
5. Various Artists- I Love: Tom T. Hall’s Songs of Fox Hollow Conceived in respect and gratitude, I Love: Tom T. Hall’s Songs of Fox Hollow is another recording in which the team of Peter Cooper and Eric Brace can take great pride; someday they are bound to fail, but they haven’t so far. The recording feels like it was captured in a loose and enjoyable setting, but the sound is tight. Jim Lauderdale, Elizabeth Cook, Tim Carroll, Gary Bennett, Bobby Bare, Jon Byrd, Buddy Miller, and others contribute. Great performances abound and the packaging is gorgeous with lovely woodcut prints illustrating the digi-pak.
6. Idyl Tea- Song That’s Not Finished Yet Infectious pop melodies with more than enough country overtones, especially in the album’s final third, to qualify as roots- hell, Idyl Tea has more ‘roots’ in their sound than the Avett Brothers and Mumford and Sons combined. Terrific songs, brilliant performances. My favourite band from 1986 returns. To plagiarize myself, Idyl Tea combines what I eventually grew to love about country and what I embraced about power pop in the early 80s- bright chords, sometimes devastatingly up-front confession through lyric, and a breezy ability to convey sadness that sounded so cheerful. “A Guitar and A Broken Heart,” “Just a Road,” “Penitent Song,” and “Dark Day in Edmonton” are simply wonderful. The accompanying Unthology is just as solid.
7. Cam Penner- Gypsy Summer
8. Blackie & the Rodeo Kings- Kings and Queens
9. John Reischman & the Jaybirds- Vintage and Unique
10. Larry Sparks- Almost Home
11. Diana Jones- High Atmosphere
12. Alison Krauss & Union Station- Paper Airplane
13. James Reams & the Barnstormers- One Foot in the Honky Tonk
14. Joe Vickers- Valley Home
15. Rachel Harrington- Celilo Falls
16. Kim Beggs- Blue Bones
17. Eliza Gilkyson- Roses at the End of Time
18. Ron Sexsmith- Long Player Late Bloomer
19. Ben Sures- Gone to Bolivia
20. John Hiatt- Dirty Jeans and Mudflap Hymns
21. Captain Tractor- Famous Last Words
22. Gillian Welch- The Harrow and the Harvest
23. Kasey Anderson- Heart of a Dog
24. Tom Russell- Mesabi
25. The Rainmakers- 25 On
Just missed- Charles Bradley No Time for Dreaming, Nick Lowe The Old Magic, Fred Eaglesmith 6 Volts, John Wesley Harding The Sound of His Own Voice, Shelby Lynne Revelation Road, Michael Jerome Browne The Road is Dark, Richmond Fontaine The High Country, Kimmie Rhodes Dreams of Flying, Verlon Thompson Works, The Goat Rodeo Sessions, Stephen Simmons The Big Show, Richard Buckner Our Blood, Gurf Morlix Blaze Foley’s 113th Wet Dream…
Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald
A final post this evening, to round out the Favourites of the Year series.
So much good music, so little time to allow it to actuallysoak in and become engrained within ones soul.
A top 20 list would have worked here, but a top 10 makes more sense as a concise summation of the Canadian music I most enjoyed this year.
I’ve deliberately not included any Alberta talent on this list as I’ll be publishing a top 5 Alberta roots list next week in the newspaper. Yes, J.R. Shore is from Calgary; blame it on fatigue! This isn’t science- precision isn’t always necessary.
Through my participation on the Polaris Music Prize jury, I have the opportunity to listen to a tonne of Canadian music. Unfortunately, most of it is what might have once been categorized as rock; in my experience, not enough roots music makes its way to the jury discussions. Still, I was able to sample a pretty healthy dose of Canadian roots this year, and these are ten of my favourites, most of which have been reviewed, described, or discussed here at Fervor Coulee.
- Kim Beggs- Blue Bones
- J.R. Shore- Talkin’ on a Bus
- The Sadies- Darker Circles
- Jenny Whiteley- Forgive and Forget
- Fred Eaglesmith- Cha Cha Cha
- Ron Hynes- Stealing Genius
- The Cowboy Junkies- Renmin Park- Nomad Series, Volume 1
- Jim Byrnes- Everywhere West
- The Mountains and The Trees- I Made This For You
- The Wilderness of Manitoba- When You Left the Fire
Reissues, both courtesy of Bumstead Records: The Blue Shadows On the Floor of Heaven and k.d. lang A Truly Western Experience.
Thanks for spending some time at Fervor Coulee today and throughout the past year. Hope to have you visit again in the new year. Best, Donald
I had meant to post this before Christmas, but neglected to do so before leaving for Jamaica from which I have just returned- a day late due to an airplane malfunction, but safe and sound. I quite love Christmas music as long as it isn’t too sweet and has something a little different to recommend it. Not too much description- all the recommendations are pretty much as one might expect:
1. Kimmie Rhodes- Miracles on Christmas Day Reviewed below in my most recent newspaper column. Stunning writing that brings warmth and personality into the mix.
2. The Indigo Girls- Holly Happy Days A range of sounds, all terrific. It sounds like an Indigo Girls album. “I Feel the Christmas Spirit” may be my favourite Indigo Girls song since “Shame on You.” Their live anthology released this year also has much to recommend it.
3. Winterbloon- Traditions Rearranged Meg Hutchinson’s name attracted me to this nicely-paced e.p. Lovely vocal arrangements, with just a bit of bite.
4. Ox- Silent Night and Other Cowboy Songs A very pleasant surprise. Introduced me to “Arthur McBride,” a song I keep hearing everywhere now that I know it. A bit affectatious in spots, but forgivable because the positives are, well, so positive.
5. Chris Jones & The Night Drivers- ”Kentucky Noel” A lovely bluegrass Christmas song- captures the images we all might wish were included in our Christmases, past and present.
In my haste to post last night, I neglected to mention my favourite Christmas discovery, Larry Sparks & the Lonesome Ramblers’ Christmas in the Hills; released on King in 1976, this is an album that will be played annually around my home place. Through the wonders of the ‘net, the treasures that are found.
When I first started to put this list of bluegrass and bluegrass-related albums of this year together, I suspected that I wouldn’t feel the need to list more than ten. Truth be told, I likely listened to less bluegrass this past year than any other in the last ten. The changing nature of the recording industry as a whole contributed to this: fewer companies are servicing freelancers with their products. Having said that, the list I finally came up with was comprised almost evenly of music I purchased and that which was sent to me.
Still, once I started gathering my listening thoughts together the list stretched to fifteen and then twenty albums and eventually thirty. With some judicious editing that revealed the difference between (to my ears) great and good, I settled on the twenty albums I not only listened to the most this past year, but which I most enjoyed- albums I feel I can recommend to others whose taste runs to the bluegrass side of things.
- The Steeldrivers- Reckless The Allmans and Stanleys battle it out somewhere near Walton’s Mountain. Allmans prevail. Mary Ellen’s virtue is the true victim. Not a weak cut on the album.
- The Earl Brothers The Earl Brothers Same skirmish. Different result. Mary-Ellen remains the real loser. A masterful album; nothing else like it released in the last year.
- Chatham County Line- Wildwood CCL may not get the airplay of The Infamous Stringdusters or Cadillac Sky or the critical accolades of The SteelDrivers, but they remain one of the brightest forces within the next bluegrass generation.
- Steve Gulley & Tim Stafford- Dogwood Winter Improves in my estimation with every listen. Beautiful.
- The Kathy Kallick Band- Between the Hollow and the High-Rise Kathy Kallick and her band play bluegrass with a distinctive and fresh flavor: a bit of blues, a touch of swing, a smidgen of folk mixed throughout. Put some drive behind all that, and you’ve got a winning bluegrass album.
- James Alan Shelton- Where I’m Bound A bright sounding album that positively leaps out of the speakers. Play it loud!
- Dierks Bentley- Up on the Ridge A terrific album and the contributions of The Punch Brothers and Del McCoury push it over the edge; for much of the year, my favourite country album. However, not quite grassy enough to be higher on this list.
- The Honey Dewdrops- These Old Roots With the absence of a new Gillian Welch album, this duo is becoming a favourite.
- Jeff & Vida -Selma Chalk Not exactly bluegrass, of course, but close enough for me to include. Genuine sultriness. Some of the songs have real pep, lively stuff but others are more atmospheric and moody, if I may. You’ll sit up and take notice if you take a chance.
- Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band- Legacy Still digesting this one, but I know I like it a lot. Hadn’t heard it until it started to show up on others’ year-end lists. Bought it at the first opportunity.
- The Special Consensus- 35 A bit brief- I would have enjoyed more out of print music, but the new performances favourably capture the latest incarnation of the Special C.
- The Grascals- The Famous Lefty Flynn’s The Grascals exhibit that they remain a bluegrass powerhouse, utilizing three-lead vocalists dexterously while maintaining a vibrant and multi-dimensional instrumental approach.
- Farewell Drifters- Yellow Tag Mondays
- Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen- Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen
- Crooked Still- Some Strange Country
- Will White- Rise Above
- Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice- Heartaches and Dreams
- The John Hartford Stringband- Memories of John
- Tim O’Brien- Chicken and Egg
- The Punch Brothers- Antifogmatic
A few other favourties: Trisha Gagnon- A Story About You and Me; Joe Diffie- Homecoming; Mark Brinkman- On the Brink of a Dream; The Carter Family III- Past and Present; Runaway Express- Howlin’ at the Moon.
Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee.
Postcard 2 is a listserve- is that still the word?- a message board- whatever we called online communities in the days before MyFace and Tweets- that serves a diminishing population of music folks who know how to spell and will argue about how to pronounce Gram Parsons’ name. http://www.postcard2.com/ is the home page- drop by, join up- we could use the fresh faces.
Annually, the Postcard Top 20 survey provides interesting reading and I’m sure this year will be no different. Over the next couple weeks I’ll also list my Canadian and Alberta-based favourites of the last year. Here is what I submitted to Postcard for this year, many of which I wrote about here at Fervor Coulee:
While compiling this list two things surprised me: a. how much music I purchased last year! And b. how few albums (that I wasn’t reviewing) I listened to more than a couple times. There are few- more likely no- albums I know today from 2010 as intimately as I did Darkness of the Edge of Town, Quadrophenia, and Fool Around in a similar amount of time. With so much music coming into my life even albums from artists I always enjoy- like Jim Lauderdale’s latest and The Gaslight Anthem- were purchased and not heard, not cracked. My new year’s resolution- slow down; listen more; and, if necessary, be more selective in my purchases.
Postcard Top 20 2010 1. Mary Gauthier The Foundling 2. Robert Plant Band of Joy 3. Peter Cooper The Lloyd Green Album 4. Eric Brace & Peter Cooper Master Sessions 5. Elizabeth Cook Welder 6. Marty Stuart Ghost Train 7. Matt Urmy Sweet Lonesome 8. Dierks Bentley Up on the Ridge 9. Mary Chapin Carpenter The Age of Miracles 10. Tony Booth The Other Side of Love 11. Shelby Lynne Tears, Lies, and Alibis 12. Reckless Kelly Somewhere in Time 13. Danielle Doyle The Cartographer’s Wife 14. The Steeldrivers Reckless 15. Kim Beggs Blue Bones 16. Wise-Magraw How the Light Gets In
17. J. R. Shore- Talkin’ on a Bus 18. The Sadies- Darker Circles 19. Ian Gomm and Jeb Loy Nichols Only Time Will Tell 20. Jay Clark Live at Jammin’ at Hippie Jack’s
Almost made it: Mark Erelli Little Vigils; Kevin Welch A Patch of Blue Sky; Marshall Chapman Big Lonesome; Tim O’Brien Chicken & Egg; Jackie Leven Gothic Road; The Earl Brothers The Earl Brothers; D. B. Rielly Love Potions and Snake Oil; Ron Hynes Stealing Genius; Jenny Whiteley Forgive and Forget; The Punch Brothers Antifogmatic
Reissues: 1. Bruce Springsteen The Promise- not a reissue, I know 2. The Blue Shadows On the Floor of Heaven 3. Kris Kristofferson Please Don’t Tell Me How the Story Ends 4. Tom Russell Cowboy’d All to Hell 5. Shawn Camp 1994
Some New Favourites I Didn’t Hear Until this Year: The Wild Tchoupitoulas The Wild Tchoupitoulas; Del McCoury Del McCoury; Larry Sparks Ramblin’ Letters; Bill Morrissey Bill Morrissey re-recording; John Boutté Good Neighbor; Greg Kihn Mutiny; Doug Cox & Salil Bhatt Slide into Freedom 2; Barbara Lynn Voices of Americana; Dick Curless Tombstone Every Mile; Johnny Darrell Singin’ It Lonesome; The albums of Tony Booth, like Lonesome 7-7203 and The Key’s In the Mailbox.
Of course, any such list is subjective and likely to change with the next album off the shelf; I did put considerable thought into compiling my Postcard Top 20 for 2010 and am confident that it wouldn’t change very much with additional review.
Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee- now, go buy some music! Donald
My top 21 albums of the year- in no particular order beyond #1 & #2 which are either Dale Ann Bradley’s Don’ t Turn Your Back or John Wort Hannam’s Queen’s Hotel, depending on the day and my mood. This list was submitted to the Postcard 2 survey with one exception; I only just heard the latest from Nanci Griffith and fell for it immediately.
I thought it was another outstanding year for roots music; I likely listened to more music than ever and know I enjoyed so many different sounds. I was glad that I didn’t have to listen to quite as much acoustic twee-folk as in the past. You’ll notice my list includes several Fervor Coulee favourites who either continued to produce outstanding music or made fine comebacks after a few years away. Not too much ‘off the radar’ music, but I’m not in a competition to discover the most unheard music. Thanks for visiting throughout the year- Donald
Dale Ann Bradley’s Don’ t Turn Your Back
The Duke & the King- Nothing Gold Can Stay
Guy Clark- Some Days the Song Writes You
Bill Callahan- Sometimes I Wish We Were Eagles
Loudon Wainwright III- High Wide and Handsome- The Charlie Poole Project
Dave Alvin & the Guilty Women- Dave Alvin & the Guilty Women
Danny Barnes- Pizza Box
Dave Rawlings Machine- A Friend of a Friend
Great Lake Swimmers- Lost Channels
Steve Forbert- The Place and the Time
Sam Bush- Circles Around Me
The Deep Dark Woods- Winter Hours
The Undesirables- Travelling Show
Leeroy Stagger- Everything Is Real
John Wort Hannam- Queen’s Hotel
Dry Branch Fire Squad- Echoes of the Mountain
The Wooden Sky- If I Don’t Come Home You’ll Know I’m Gone
Various Artists- Things About Comin’ My Way- A Tribute to the Music of the Mississippi Sheiks
Mike Plume Band- 8:30 Newfoundland
David Davis & the Warrior River Boys- Two Dimes & A Nickel
Nanci Griffith- The Loving Kind
Postcard2 is a list serve that is focused around (mostly) roots music and its various off-shoots. Each year members submit their Top 20 releases of the year. The submissions can be interesting, and can lead to further exporation of artists and albums previously missed. www.postcard2.com for more information. Anyhow, here is what I submitted, with three comments. One, I missed Darrell Scott’s Modern Hymns. Not sure how, but I did. It would have most likely pushed the Hubbard disc out of the top 20. Second, I hadn’t heard either the Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson album nor the Hank Williams unreleased radio show recordings prior to compiling the list. Not sure if Rattlin’ Bones would have made it to the Twenty, but Hank would have made the reissues list. Additionally, Maria Dunn’s album arrived too late to be considered. Again, quite likely it would have made the list; it is an excellent example of the living Canadian folk tradition. Finally, as discussed elsewhere, Carlene Carter’s Stronger is a very fine album, but didn’t make my top 20. Instead, I mention it on the reissues as it was originally issued as a fan club disc a couple years ago. Anyhow…here it is:
Beyond Fred Eaglesmith’s Tinderbox, few of the albums I shortlisted and then finally listed stood-out ‘head and shoulders’ above the rest.
Actually, I had initially believed 2008 was a weak year for the kind of music I like, simply because little separated itself from the pack. Once I started working at it, I discovered there was a lot of music I liked and enjoyed, but the new releases were overshadowed by the volume of catalogue- and in some cases deep catalogue- music I’ve been listening to (Genesis’s Foxtrot, anyone?)
This is a result, I think, of purchasing a lot of music- some I still haven’t got to- from a chain going bankrupt this fall, finding a bunch of $1 CDs I could trade in for three and four times at the local shop for mega-discounted ‘my kind of music’- You’re Never Alone With A Schizophrenic for $4, Martin Sexton Wonder Bar for 6, and various Midnight Oil’s for $3…
In no particular order, beyond Fred being #1…
Fred Eaglesmith- Tinderbox
The Steeldrivers- The Steeldrivers
The Earl Brothers- Moonshine
Kathy Mattea- Coal
Mark Erelli- Delivered
Melonie Cannon- And the Wheels Turn
Blue Moon Rising- One Lonely Shadow
Chip Taylor- New Songs of Freedom
Crooked Still- Still Crooked
Charlie Haden- Rambling Boy
Lucinda Williams- Little Honey
Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper- Leavin’ Town
Jay Clark- I’m Confused
Justin Townes Earle- The Good Life
Brad Paisley- Play
Eliza Gilkyson- Beautiful World
Ray Wylie Hubbard- Snake Farm
Kimmie Rhodes- Walls Fall Down
Kathleen Edwards- Asking for Flowers
Jimmy Gaudreau and Moondi Klein- 2:10 Train
Subject to change within twenty minutes
The Wire- …And All the Things Matter
Nick Lowe- Jesus of Cool
VA- Ten Years of European World of Bluegrass
Larry Sparks- Bound to Ride
Ralph Stanley- Old-Time Pickin
Katrina Leskanich- Walking on Sunshine
Carlene Carter- Stronger
Bruce Robison- His Greatest Hits
Jason Ringenberg- Best Tracks and Side Tracks
James King- Gardens in the Sky
And the whole damn Creedence reissue set- How did I ever miss CCR before? What a rhythm section! Much more than the FM singles band I always took them for.
And finally, Ali Thomson’s digital reissue of “Take A Little Rhythm”!