Fervor Coulee’s Favourite Roots Albums of 2019


My gosh, this was hard. How hard? Willie Nelson- Ride Me Back Home got bumped during the last week, and I had to decide Bruce Springsteen- Western Stars wasn’t a roots album. I reviewed 109 albums at Fervor Coulee (and elsewhere) during 2019, didn’t have time to review or chose not to review several dozen more, and purchased many (vinyl, CD, and downloads)—I’m guessing 150. A lot of music came my way—300?—and then I had to start winnowing them down to a digestible number.

Here we go:

  1. Yola- Walk Through Fire I was driving to work one day last spring, and her voice came through the radio via CKUA. I didn’t pull over, but I did sit in the parking lot upon arrival to listen to the rest of the song. Bought the download of Walk Through Fire and the previous Orphan Offering EP, and have been enjoying them regularly ever since. Catching part of her set—damn conflicting schedules—at Hardly Strictly cemented my regard. A great album that ideally bridges country and soul with freshness. Purchased download
  2. Matt Patershuk- If Wishes Were Horses While no coins were flipped, positions one-two-three were adjusted, flopped, and shuffled to the last minute. I’m confident placing If Wishes Were Horses in second-spot, but given another couple weeks with it…no, it wouldn’t have moved past Yola. I don’t think… Serviced CD Link to review
  3. The Long Ryders- Psychedelic Country Soul My favourite album for most of 2019, repeated plays of Walk Through Fire this month, along with Matt Patershuk’s late-season arrival, nudged Psychedelic Country Soul into third place. Serviced download Link to review

Positions four-five-six-seven-eight-nine also moved around a lot these recent weeks as I had a tough time finalizing my impressions.

4. Dale Ann Bradley- The Hard Way Serviced download Link to review https://fervorcoulee.wordpress.com/2019/05/03/dale-ann-bradley-the-hard-way-review/

5. Eric Brace, Peter Cooper, & Thomm Jutz- Riverland Serviced CD Link to review https://fervorcoulee.wordpress.com/2019/01/27/eric-brace-peter-cooper-thomm-jutz-riverland-review/

6. Linda McRae- Going to the Well Serviced CD Link to review https://fervorcoulee.wordpress.com/2019/10/02/linda-mcrae-going-to-the-well-review/

7. Vince Gill- Okie I don’t recall a time I more enjoyed a complete Vince Gill album. Yes, there are a couple pretty suckie songs, but that is what Gill has always done. The strong songs—“I Don’t Want to Ride the Rails No More,” “The Red Words,” “An Honest Man”—make up for “When My Amy Prays.” The trinity-—singing of a father (“That Old Man of Mine”), a son (“Letter to My Mother”), and the holy spirit (“Nothin’ Like a Guy Clark Song”)— pushes Okie into my top ten. Purchased CD

8. The Highwomen- The Highwomen And they had Yola sing on a song. A memorable album from Brandi Carlile and her crew. Purchased CD

9. Chris Jones & the Night Drivers- The Choosing Road Serviced CD Link to review https://fervorcoulee.wordpress.com/2019/06/03/chris-jones-the-night-drivers-the-choosing-road-review/

Positions ten through twenty shouldn’t likely be labelled with a number — albums would move up and down as I was listening, and could have landed just about anywhere. Remember, these are my favourite roots albums of the years.

10. Tom Savage- Great Beyond Serviced CD Link to review https://fervorcoulee.wordpress.com/2019/10/22/tom-savage-great-beyond-review/

11. Kelsey Waldon- White Noise, White Lines Serviced download Link to review https://exclaim.ca/music/article/kelsey_waldon-white_noise_white_lines

12. Jason Ringenberg- Stand Tall Serviced CD Link to review https://www.countrystandardtime.com/d/cdreview.asp?xid=6866

13. Will Kimbrough- I Like It Down Here Purchased download

14. Hayes Carll- What It Is Purchased download

15. Adia Victoria- Silences Purchased download

16. Steve Earle & the Dukes- GUY Purchased download and vinyl

17. Watermelon Slim- Church of the Blues Northern Blues Serviced CD Link to review https://fervorcoulee.wordpress.com/2019/01/20/watermelon-slim-church-of-the-blues-review/

18. Rod Picott- Tell the Truth & Shame the Devil Welding Rod Records Serviced CD Link to review https://fervorcoulee.wordpress.com/2019/07/18/rod-picott-tell-the-truth-shame-the-devil-review/

19. Josh Ritter- Fever Breaks Purchased download

20. Ben Davis, Jr.- Suthernahia Self-released Serviced CD Link to review https://fervorcoulee.wordpress.com/2019/09/15/ben-davis-jr-suthernahia-review/

Thank you for visiting Fervor Coulee today, and this year. We set another record, increasing readership by 25% over last year and having more visitors to the site than ever before. I wrote 110 reviews this year, and was able to feature some terrific music. I hope you found something you hadn’t previously heard. As always, buy some music, dammit. And visit me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/FervorCoulee @fervorcoulee

I don’t believe I am going to have the energy to publish a list of my favourites roots albums of the decade. I did start cobbling together a list this summer…but, not sure I have the interest. We’ll see.

I was asked to contribute my favourites of the year to Exclaim!, using their categories. Had I heard Lizzo prior to her Saturday Night Live appearance, I believe I would have bought her album much earlier. As it was, it wasn’t on my radar when I was asked to contribute: here is my ‘revised’ top 5 in non-roots categories:

Soul, Funk, and Global

  1. Lizzo- Cuz I Love You (Deluxe) tied with Yola-Walk Through Fire
  2. Tanika Charles- The Gumption
  3. The Beat- Public Confidential
  4. The Specials- Encore
  5. Steel Pulse- Mass Manipulation

Rock Pop Punk

  1. The Long Ryders- Psychedelic Country Soul
  2. Suzi Quatro- No Control
  3. Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul- Summer of Sorcery
  4. Bruce Springsteen- Western Stars
  5. Danko Jones- A Rock Supreme tied with Nils Lofgren- Blue with Lou

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