These albums are an interesting mix: a few indie albums, a comeback album, a mainstream major release (or 3) and a live album that shouldn’t go together. However, from the albums I heard this year, these were my favorites, the ones I kept listening to. Hopefully you agree, but maybe not and that’s what makes the end of the year so interesting! Maybe you’ll find something new on my list that you didn’t think to listen to.
10. Southern Voice – Tim McGraw (Curb)
A last minute entry on my list, this album was not what I expected. I hadn’t even listened to his new singles, and I wish I’d paid more attention. This album is a mature bunch of story songs such as the morbid “Good Girls”. The most touching is ‘You Had To Be There,’ a scene in a prison where a father talks to his son through a glass window and a phone. Even lead single ‘It’s A Business Doing Pleasure With You’ is a fun pop-country song that manages to be fresh.
9. Destination Life – Rhonda Vincent (Rounder)
A finely crafted bluegrass album that’s entertaining from start to finish. An infectious version of ‘Stop the World (And Let Me Off)’ is by far my favorite track here.
8.Middle Cyclone – Neko Case (Anti)
I had the chance to see Neko in concert right before this CD came out, and I wish I had; this is a unique collection of natural disaster-inspired love songs. ‘This Tornado Loves You’ is awesome, and the album artwork is one of my favorites ever. I mean come on, holding a sword on a car hood? Yeah!
7. Live At Eddie’s Attic – The Civil Wars (Sensibility)
A free, digital, live album- this duo is a hidden gem. ‘Poison & Wine’is raw and heartbreaking- not to mention they can really sing live. Hopefully a studio album will be in the works…
6. The Long Way Home – Terri Clark (Bare Track)
A little more slick than I expected, nevertheless this album has very fine tunes, especially the AA-themed’A Million Ways To Run’ and the clever “If You Want Fire”.
5. Song Up In Her Head – Sarah Jarosz (Sugarhill)
In the vein of Nickel Creek, Sarah Jarosz’s album is progressive bluegrass with plenty of banjo. A cover of the Decemberist’s ‘Shankill Butchers’ is the highlight.
4. American Saturday Night – Brad Paisley (Arista)
I didn’t expect to like this album, but I did and I have been playing it for the past 6 months. ‘Everybody’s Here’ is a gorgeous ode to not having a good time at a party. Anyone else surprised that a solo, mainstream male artist made it on my list? I kind of am.
3. Sara Watkins – Sara Watkins (Nonesuch)
Her solo debut is surprisingly not a continuation of Nickel Creek (Although that would still be awesome!), Sara brings more country tunes. The mournful ‘All This Time’ and swingy ‘Any Old Time’ show her real talent.
2. Mountain Soul II – Patty Loveless (Saguaro Road)
Do I need to say anything? Probably not, but I will. I actually like this album more than the first Mountain Soul, but it doesn’t quite have a knockout track like ‘You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive’. ‘Diamond And The Crown’ with Emmylou Harris comes really close though, with it’s hymn-like organ and wonderful performance.
1.Revolution – Miranda Lambert (Sony)
I meant to write a review here for this album, but life got in the way. This album manages to be diverse and cohesive at the same time; a feat last accomplished so deftly by a mainstream artist when Trisha Yearwood released Heaven, Heartache and the Power of Love. ‘The House That Built Me’ made me miss home so much I shed a tear, something that very few songs have the power to do.