This year had SO MUCH good music released I have narrowed my list down to fifteen. But I think I've put them into an order I like, so:
1) Georgia Hard - Robbie Fulks
I've always liked Fulks, but this album flat-out RAWKS. He's a sheer genius at lyric writing, and this is his very best ever.
2) Call Me Lonesome - Dave Insley
Dave had a lockhold on my top spot until Fulks' masterpiece derailed him. I almost put him at #1 just because he's my buddy, but I figured I probably shouldn't (and rahirah said I shouldn't).
3) A Tribute To Billy Joe Shaver - Live - various artists
Billy Joe Shaver is the poet laureate of country music. This disc was the celebration of his 65th birthday, as some of the greatest names in Americana came together to perform a concert that was absolutely unparalleled (and I remember when the announcement of it hit my Austin Americana list how I WISHED I could go!). It features Dale Watson, Guy Clark, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Todd Snider, Joe Ely, Jack Ingram, and others, as well as Billy Joe himself.
4) Chicago Wind - Merle Haggard
It's Merle Haggard. He gets better every year.
5) Badlands - Marty Stuart
Marty's no longer much in the mainstream, which kind of allows him to break out occasionally and do something that's just pure art. While it's not quite the breathtaking masterpiece his last theme album, The Pilgrim was, it's still a TKO, music-wise.
6) The Real Deal - Billy Joe Shaver
What can I say? Shaver had a really good year. Makes up for the hard times he'd been going through. He's sharp as ever.
7) The Outsider - Rodney Crowell
Rodney's been on a real good streak since The Houston Kid. He refuses to be pigeonholed, and this disc just blasts genre out of the water. That's Americana.
8) Time Well Wasted - Brad Paisley
Paisley is turning into the King of happy-go-lucky, feel-good, REAL country music. He recalls the cheerful days of Roger Miller, Hee-Haw, and Ray Stevens. It's fun.
9) Garage - Cross Canadian Ragweed
The little garage band from Oklahoma has grown up. This is full-fledged solid rockin' country, just plain good music, no matter how you cut it.
10) Childish Things - James McMurtry
Powerful music and strong lyrics. Probably McMurtry's best.
11) Snow - Curt Kirkwood
12) From the Five - Stephen Bruton
13) This is Americana 2 - Various Artists
14) Blame the Vain - Dwight Yoakam
15) The Road Hammers - The Road Hammers
16) The Moon Was Blue - Bobby Bare
17) Ten in Texas - Various Artists
18) My Kind of Music - Ray Scott
1) Turn Back The Years - The Essential Hank Williams - Hank Williams
2) Penitentiary Blues - David Allan Coe
3) The Legend Of Johnny Cash - Johnny Cash
4) The Road Goes On Forever - The Highwaymen
5) Interiors - Rosanne Cash
6) The Definitive Collection - Loretta Lynn
7) The Essential Marty Robbins - Marty Robbins
8) Acoustic - The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
9) The Arizona Cowboy - Rex Allen
[Edited 10/30 to add Hank and Johnny.]
Of course, the really tough thing is, the year isn't quite over, and I have three more to review next week, including two re-issues from June Carter Cash and a new Christmas compilation album from some of the best of Americana artists (including BR549, Jim Lauderdale, John Corbett, John Prine, Joe Ely, Steve Earle & new wife Allison Moorer doing a duet, and Raul Malo). I haven't spun any of those yet.
I'm also NOT sure about the placement of some, because I'd love to cram Snow into the Top Ten, but not sure who to bump (the obvious is James McMurtry, of course, and have them change places).
And now, having finished three reviews this morning (whew), I have two more to do, and I finished The Book. It's off to format it for submission. Yeek! :)