Roots Discoveries of 2018

A lifetime ago- okay, about a decade or a dozen years ago- I stopped being asked to contribute to Penguin Eggs‘ annual critics poll. As far as I know, there was no fallout with the publisher: perhaps he just lost my email address. I still buy the magazine most every quarter, and am usually satisfied.

Regardless, beyond identifying ten favourite roots albums of the year, contributors were also required to supply ‘three discoveries’ of the year, which was just as interesting. I could go to the magazine archive in the next room and check for details, but I might not make it back: I have mentioned I have a problem with clutter. I seem to recall folks like Sam Baker, Mary Gauthier, and similar now-‘name’ artists being mentioned on various lists. [Ed.: Nope, No Baker or Gauthier on the list. Purchased the Winter edition of Penguin Eggs today, and within their list of “Past New Discoveries,” Baker and Gauthier are not named as a consensus choice. Reason #47 for me not to trust my memory: Ruthie Foster, Rae Spoon, Crooked Still however were, back in the days when I was contributing.]

In the spirit of (finally) wrapping up the year, I thought I might revisit this practice and make a list of my favourite roots discoveries of 2018.

With apologies to Mickey Gulyean & Cullen’s Bridge, Edward David Anderson, Joyann Parker, Caroline Cotter, Blue Yonder, Rudi Ekstein, and Ashley McBryde, my three favourite discoveries of 2018 were:

Crystal Shawanda: Without ever listening to her, I had mistakenly dismissed Shawanda as just another mediocre Canadian country singer. I’ve been wrong before and I will be wrong again. Her late 2017 release- reviewed by me in early 2018- is absolutely incredible- everything I am looking for in a soulful, blues rockin’ album.

Ynana Rose: Rooted in country music of a previous generation, Rose’s songs were exactly what I needed as 2018 came to a close. She approaches songwriting and performance in her own way, but her influences glimmer through in places. Tea Leaf Confessions and “The Gift of a Song” need to be heard by every roots and folk DJ: no disappointment expected.

Hadley McCall Thackston: Oh, my. I hope the rest of the world is paying attention to this Georgia-native with Ontario musical roots. Lyrically evocative with distinctive, atmospheric melodies, these songs establish Hadley McCall Thackston’s mystical montage, each rooted in her experience.

Thanks for frequenting Fervor Coulee. We have experienced an 85% increase in readership/traffic this year over last, and 2018 was highest rate of viewership we have experienced in our ten years. Here’s to even more next year, as we discover the best of roots music together. And follow me on Twitter, if you are so inclined. Donald

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