Records Of The Year 2021

  1. Rory Feek – Gentle Man

I’d never heard of this Tennessean Country music singer songwriter until his latest album arrived in my inbox from Country Music People. I was blown away. The songs wrap around the sad reality that his partner, in life and song, Joey, died of cervical cancer in 2016. After a hiatus he recorded this album; a galaxy of Country stars all turned up to sing on the album, Lee Ann Womack, Vince Gill, Trisha Yearwood, Alison Krauss and Dolly Parton: probably because his loss had touched everyone. The sentimentality is remarkable. It’s traditional Country with stories of everyday rural American folk. The duet with Dolly of One Angel is literally a tearjerker. Bliss.

  1.   Tylor & The Bank Robbers – Non-Typical Find

Not much Americana comes out of Idaho but when it does then it can be remarkable. I’ve loved both their recent albums of Country Rock with a terrific acoustic rock vibe and engaging lyrics.

  1.   Jacob Tovar – Another Time, Another Place

This is an artist who makes a modest living around Tulsa, Oklahoma. He’s not fêted on a big label. Tovar possesses a classic Country sound and this album of originals and covers hits the spot.

  1.   Ashland Craft – Travellin’ Kind

A winner of a US TV talent show. She has a voice that could break your heart whatever genre she sings. Here she’s got great Country pop songs with sublime tunes and a great band. She’s going to be stellar.

5. Emily Scott Robinson – American Siren

In the 70s she’d be called a ‘Singer Songwriter’ like Carole King or Joni Mitchell. In addition to great songs she has a distinct crystal clear beautiful voice. Again, this is the start of something special.

  1.   Brandi Carlile – In These Silent Days

An enormously talented woman. Her latest was a another highlight of this year’s Americana where the arrangements, compositions and that pure, soaring and occasionally achy voice drew you in.

  1.   Altered Five Blues Band – Holler If You Hear Me

Blues Rock is a timeless genre. Take a mean electric guitar that can squeal, a solid rhythm section and some B3 organ; you’re nearly there. Next add Jeff Taylor’s voice and you have heaven

8  James McMurtry – The Horses and the Hounds

McMurtry inhabits a world of unvarnished Ameriocana takes on rural USA with the struggles and little victories told to you as if he was further along the counter sharing a beer. A complete master.

  1.   Blackberry Smoke – You Hear Georgia

A pastiche of 1970s Southern Rock that mines the sound of Little Feat, Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Allmans with a soupçon of Country. A wonderful album that shows there’s a market for this stuff.

  1.   Thorbjørn Risager & Emil Balsgaard – Taking The Good With The Bad

This Danish duo have been important international blues artists for a couple of decades. Usually part of a larger band here they’ve delivered a sensational traditional New Orleans fused piano driven gem.

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