The Americana Music Association just released its list of its 100 top albums, the most-played on Americana music radio stations from Dec. 1, 2015 through Dec. 5, 2016. Each year we always find some overlooked gem. The Avett Brothers top the new list, followed by the Tedeschi Trucks Band, Bonnie Raitt and the Lumineers. For full details and other Americana music news, you’ll want to visit their site.
|Avett Brothers||True Sadness|
|Tedeschi Trucks Band||Let Me Get By|
|Bonnie Raitt||Dig In Deep|
|Hayes Carll||Lovers And Leavers|
|Parker Millsap||The Very Last Day|
|Sturgill Simpson||A Sailor’s Guide To Earth|
|Colvin & Earle||Colvin & Earle|
|Jayhawks||Paging Mr. Proust|
|Margo Price||Midwest Farmer’s Daughter|
|Record Company||Give It Back To You|
|Lucinda Williams||The Ghosts Of Highway 20|
|Nathaniel Rateliff and The Nightsweats||Nathaniel Rateliff and The Nightsweats|
|Dylan LeBlanc||Cautionary Tale|
|Cactus Blossoms||You’re Dreaming|
|Darrell Scott||Couchville Sessions|
|Elizabeth Cook||Exodus Of Venus|
|Bonnie Bishop||Ain’t Who I Was|
|Aubrie Sellers||New City Blues|
|Loretta Lynn||Full Circle|
|Sara Watkins||Young In All The Wrong Ways|
|Shovels & Rope||Little Seeds|
|Josh Ritter||Sermon On The Rocks|
|Wynonna & The Big Noise||Wynonna & The Big Noise|
|Infamous Stringdusters||Ladies & Gentlemen|
|John Prine||For Better, Or Worse|
|Hard Working Americans||Rest In Chaos|
|Paul Simon||Stranger To Stranger|
|James Hunter Six||Hold On!|
|Aoife O’Donovan||Magic Hour|
|Robert Ellis||Robert Ellis|
|Honeycutters||On The Ropes|
|Luther Dickinson||Blues & Ballads|
|Peter Wolf||A Cure For Loneliness|
|Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals||Call It What It Is|
|Devil Makes Three||Redemption & Ruin|
|Joe Ely||Panhandle Rambler|
|Buddy Miller & Friends||Cayamo Sessions At Sea|
|Dwight Yoakam||Swimmin’ Pools, Movie Stars…|
|Lori McKenna||The Bird & The Rifle|
|Jason Isbell||Something More Than Free|
|Yarn||This Is The Year|
|Various – The Songs Of Blind Willie Johnson||God Don’t Never Change|
|Randy Rogers Band||Nothing Shines Like Neon|
|Corb Lund||Things That Can’t Be Undone|
|Turnpike Troubadours||Turnpike Troubadours|
|Willie Sugarcapps||Paradise Right Here|
|Luke Bell||Luke Bell|
|Jim Lauderdale||Soul Searching|
|Bottle Rockets||South Broadway Athletic Club|
|Teddy Thompson & Kelly Jones||Little Windows|
|Miss Tess||Baby, We All Know|
|Los Lobos||Gates Of Gold|
|Bill Kirchen & Austin de Lone||Transatlanticana|
|Southern Culture On The Skids||The Electric Pinecones|
|Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin||Lost Time|
|Black Lillies||Hard To Please|
|Green River Ordinance||Fifteen|
|Jack Ingram||Midnight Motel|
|Patty Griffin||Servant Of Love|
|Amanda Shires||My Piece Of Land|
|Chris Isaak||First Comes The Night|
|Sierra Hull||Weighted Mind|
|Reckless Kelly||Sunset Motel|
|Shovels & Rope||Busted Jukebox Volume 1|
|Grant Lee Phillips||The Narrows|
|Todd Snider||Eastside Bulldog|
|Seth Walker||Gotta Get Back|
|Charlie Faye & The Fayettes||Charlie Faye & The Fayettes|
|Drive-By Truckers||American Band|
|William Bell||This Is Where I Live|
|Derek Hoke||Southern Moon|
|Sarah Borges||Good And Dirty|
|Frankie Lee||American Dreamer|
|Steve Martin & Edie Brickell||So Familiar|
|Earls Of Leicester||Rattle & Roar|
|Hiss Golden Messenger||Heart Like A Levee|
|Billy Bragg & Joe Henry||Shine A Light|
|Sean McConnell||Sean McConnell|
|Malcolm Holcombe||Another Black Hole|
|Tim Easton||American Fork|
|Mary Chapin Carpenter||The Things We Are Made Of|
|Rob Baird||Wrong Side Of The River|
|Brent Cobb||Shine On Rainy Day|
|Janiva Magness||Love Wins Again|
By Paul T. Mueller – With his new album Silver Tears, Aaron Lee Tasjan nails an impressive achievement – channeling a roster of worthy influences while remaining true to his own voice and vision. Tasjan, an accomplished singer-songwriter and guitarist based in East Nashville, leads off with “Hard Life,” which does in fact deal with difficulties, but in a bouncy pop style that brings to mind Harry Nilsson. “Little Movies” casts life in cinematic terms – “Watch the day unfold in little movies / With silver tears that sparkle from my eyes” – recalling John Lennon in both its arrangement and its lyrics. The dramatic “Ready to Die” evokes Warren Zevon in its fatalistic lyrics (“I’m ready to die / For a worthy cause / It’s ’cause I’m tired of feeling bad”).
Tasjan, who’s done stints with the New York Dolls and drivin n cryin in addition to his solo work, is a master of many musical styles, as shown here on the introspective ballad “Refugee Blues,” the soulful twang of “Memphis Rain,” the quiet folksiness of “On Your Side,” the bluesy New Orleans vibe of “12 Bar Blues,” and the exuberant R&B of “Success.” All of it is driven by richly textured instrumental support, not least of which are Tasjan’s excellent guitars. It’s also peppered with lyrical wisdom. “One day, they said the future / Was flying cars and a ride on a rocket,” Tasjan sings in “Till the Town Goes Dark.” “Time passed and all I got / Was America today and a TV in my pocket.” Credit to producer Eli Thomson and a fine group of supporting musicians.
In “Success,” Tasjan observes, “Success ain’t about being better than everyone else / It’s about being better than yourself.” Given that Silver Tears is his strongest and most consistent effort to date, that makes Aaron Lee Tasjan, by his own lights, a success. Listeners are likely to agree.
Americana Music News – Kacey Musgraves has a new holiday album, aptly titled A Very Kacey Christmas. She talked about the unconventional collection of Yuletide tunes in an interview on WMOT Roots Radio at the Family Wash in East Nashville yesterday.
There are standards – “Let It Snow” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” among them – but plenty of surprises as well. There’s the obscure 1953 hit “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” and a cover of “The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late.)”
Americana Music News – Aaron Lee Tasjan dropped by the Family Wash in Nashville today to sing a few songs on a WMOT Roots Radio broadcast in support of his new album “Silver Tears.” Here he talks about the new recording and an unusual promotional tour.
New and recent releases:
The Mavericks – All Night Live, Vol. 1 – Mondo Mundo Records – The Mavericks have had an extraordinary resurgence in recent years, emerging as top Americana music artists. All Night Live, Vol. 1 is packed with vibrant live versions of songs, largely from recent albums, plus a charming cover of Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon. The collection is the first release on the band’s new Mondo Mundo label, and lead singer Raul Malo told the Tennessean there are “so many freakin’ volumes” to come in the “All Night Live” series. A new studio album is expected in April 2017.
— Americana Music News (@KenPaulson7) October 23, 2016
Blind Pilot – And Then Like Lions – ATO Records – Third album from the Portland-based band, now on tour in California.
Jesse Dayton – The Revealer – Blue Elan Records – The ninth album from Jesse Dayton includes standout track “Holy Ghost Rock ‘n’ Roller,” now getting good play on WMOT. He’s on tour through early December
Dale Watson – Under the Influence – BFD – Dale Watson revisits honky tonk and country classics on this new collection, including covers of Doug Sham, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, Conway Twitty, Lefty Frizell and Mel Tillis.
Becky Warren – War Surplus – Here’s a novel album concept. Nashville-based Becky Warren tells the story of a solider in Iraq and his girlfriend, with songs alternating their points of view. Warren goes on tour with the Indigo Girls beginning October 27.
Cris Jacobs – Dust to Gold – American Showplace Music – Second album from Cris Jacobs, on tour through October and November.
David Nipper – EP – Fresh collection from talented Nashville singer-songwriter David Nipper. He’ll appear in the round at the Commodore Grill in Nashville on November 10 with Phil Dillon and Dave Gibson.
By Paul T. Mueller
In the Dark marks a couple of changes of direction for Houston-based singer-songwriter Matt Harlan. He’s now part of a duo; his musical partner and wife, Rachel Jones, has contributed to previous projects, but this time she gets equal billing on the CD cover and a much-expanded vocal role, of which she’s more than worthy. And his songs are more about poetic abstraction – images and feelings – than the narrative of such earlier efforts as “Elizabethtown” and “Old Allen Road.”
Case in point: In the title track, nothing much happens except some sitting – in a bar, at home – and watching the night give way to the day. The stylistic shift might be frustrating to fans of Harlan’s storytelling skills, but there’s a place for quieter, less linear songs as well. Harlan and Jones are good at this kind of thing, using their understated but expressive vocals as a vehicle for Harlan’s literate lyrics. All of it is supported by his excellent guitar playing and contributions from some talented guests.
The album’s only song not written or co-written by Harlan, “My Mother’s Song (at Seventeen),” does feature a narrative of sorts. Written by Steve Dodson and Danny Jones, it’s a dialogue of conflict and reconciliation between a parent and a child. “You look at me and disagree,” Jones sings, “and shake your head and sigh.” Guest vocalist Allison Fisher replies, “The thing that you don’t understand is – we sing a different song.” Later they harmonize on a conclusion: “The thing that you don’t understand is – we see a different light.”
Time is a recurring theme on In the Dark. “Move Slow” envisions “every day [as] a gift from somewhere else” and admonishes us to seize the day: “Just imagine all the time we’ll never get to dance out in the thunderstorms.” “Strangers on the Hill” laments the passage of time (“Simple story: Time drifts by”) while casting a critical eye on how we choose to pass that time: “Obligations, tensions high: trying to live like the strangers on the hill.”
Time and change also figure in “Mozart,” which closes the eight-song set. “Mozart will always be Mozart, just like disco will always be dead,” Harlan sings, but in contrast, “as long as I’m living I’m changing, with each drop of sweat that rolls off of my brow.”
Matt Harlan and Rachel Jones share production credit; contributors include Tony Barilla on accordion and keyboards, Steve Candelari on drums and Willy T Golden on lap steel.