2009 has been interesting, a crappy year for mainstream country music overall, but I would say a good year for other genres. Since the year is 75% over, I just wanted to share some of my picks from the year so far (inside country music and out) and a look at a few upcoming albums. Note: these are albums I’ve been enjoying, some may not appeal to you guys, but these albums have been played heavily by me. I also didn’t include albums I’ve reviewed, but most of those are still played a lot by me… Here are some recommendations from 2009 so far:
The Long Way Home by Terri Clark -Her indie debut reminds me of Fearless, only better. There are some really great tracks hidden in here- it’s a shame it won’t be heard by almost everyone. Favorite Track: “A Million Ways To Run” -This song is a look into the mind of someone at what seems to be an AA meeting- and it sounds real, not contrived.
Mi Plan by Nelly Furtado -She got me into Spanish music, and this album has some gorgeous cuts with great guests. Favorite track: “Bajo Otra Luz” which features Julieta Venegas & La Mala Rodriguez -This song has a great beat while the lyrics tell of how one sees their life “under another light” after their ex leaves them.
Live On The Inside by Sugarland -Cool live album that proves Jennifer sounds as good, if not better live. Favorite track: “Circle” -This cover just sound like it was made to be covered by Sugarland, it’s got energy and sounds great with the mandolin in the background. Jennifer’s voice just soars, while staying restrained, not to mention you can’t even tell it’s live.
Breakthrough by Colbie Caillat -She’s not deep, but this album is very pleasant and good after a long day of classes. Her voice is pleasant and the songs are fun and she never really tries to be more than that. Favorite track: “Begin Again” -A catchy chorus with great acoustic-pop instrumentation makes for a very enjoyable song.
Twang by George Strait -Solid, as usual, but better than Troubadour by far. It’s definitely a George Strait album! Favorite Track: “Beautiful Day For Goodbye” -A man laments how nice the weather is while his lover leaves, definitely a heartbreaker akin to “Living For The Night”. I personally prefer “Living”, but I didn’t want to recommend the first single!
Destination Life by Rhonda Vincent -She’s so talented, and this album just sounds awesome. It’s very fresh and all of the players are just amazing. Favorite track: “Stop The World (And Let Me Off)” -This oft-covered song has a great flamenco feel mixed with bluegrass instruments, a true treat that I wasn’t expecting from Rhonda Vincent.
Middle Cyclone by Neko Case -She’s different, but this album is a little more straightforward with lyrics that are easier to get. Honestly, I wish I had bought tickets to see her in New York City, but I didn’t quite get too… Lame. Favorite track: “This Tornado Loves You” -This opener has some cool opening guitar work that segues into lyrics comparing the narrator to a tornado that loves… or is she really a tornado?
Here are some upcoming albums that I’m looking forward to:
Mountain Soul II by Patty Loveless -Honestly, I’ve already heard it, and it’s really good. I like it better than Mountain Soul, but that’s my personal opinion, and I bet most people will disagree with me on that point. My favorite track right now is “Diamond And The Crown” which features Emmylou Harris on harmonies. (September 29th)
Revolution by Miranda Lambert -I love the first two singles, and 15 tracks is like one-and-a-half times Crazy Ex-Girlfriend! I’ve heard the album has some really good songs, and I recommend Wal-Mart’s soundcheck performances where she performs a few of the new songs. Hopefully the fact that it’s loud doesn’t bug me, but I don’t think it will. (September 29th)
Memoirs Of An Imperfect Angel by Mariah Carey -The lead single “Obsessed” had strange autotune, but the second single is a cover of “I Want To Know What Love Is” and is pure ballady goodness with gorgeous vocals, something Mariah Carey does well.I liked her past two albums, so I think I’ll like this one too. (September 29th)
She Wolf by Shakira -Yeah, I know, “WHAT?” This album is supposed to be like electro dance-pop with asian influences- whatever that means, but if it’s all like “She Wolf”, I’ll love it. I love the title track, and sometimes I get in the mood to dance, and this album seems like it’ll be too much fun. I think I just like it when someone howls in the middle of a song… (October 5th)
Play On by Carrie Underwood -I’m the rare one that likes “Cowboy Casanova”, but I’m hoping this album will be much better than Carnival Ride, but I’m not keeping my hopes up. I think everyone’s hoping for an album of “I Told You So”s, but I bet when it comes out her anti-fans will be the ones saying “I told you so…” (November 3rd)
Gold And Green by Sugarland -Being the massive Sugarland fan I am, I found out they were making a Christmas album, and I was actually excited- something a Christmas album never does for me. It includes the five Christmas songs that were included on the Wal-Mart re-release of Enjoy The Ride, plus five new songs written by the duo. Two Sugarland albums in two months? I’ll take that. (October 13th)
As-of yet untitled… by Alicia Keys -The first single, “Doesn’t Mean Anything” (Listen to it here) is really great, very meaningful and gorgeous- it bodes well for this project. (Winter 2009)
As-of yet untitled… by Gary Allan -I like him and his voice, although I disliked Living Hard, we’ll see about this one. (2009)
So what about you guys? Favorites of 2009 so far? Upcoming ones that you’re ready for?