Favorites of 2010

I know – it’s already mid-January and I’m just getting around to posting my favorite CDs of 2010.  I wait because I still discover new music in December when everyone is writing their annual obituaries for the year that has not yet died. Anyway, here is the annotated list of my favorite recordings from 2010:

1) April Smith and the Great Picture Show – Songs From a Sinking Ship

A wonderful,  eclectic mix of high-energy toe-tapping pop with a folky, jazzy edge.

2) Natalie Merchant – Leave Your Sleep

A fascinating, genre-hopping collection of entertaining poems set to music

3) Mumford and Sons – Sigh No More

Indie music’s darlings of 2010 are really worth all the hype, with their appealing, energetic acoustic pop. When was the last time you heard the pop music world this excited at a group that so prominently features banjo?  I mean, really?

4) Lynne Hanson – Once the Sun Goes Down

Canadian singer/songwriter Lynne Hanson has a voice made for singing Americana – world weary and husky like Lucinda Williams. On this album, she benefits from smart, full production and brings a strong crop of songs.

5) Catherine MacLellan – Water in the Ground

Another Canadian singer/songwriter, Catherine MacLellan has a lush, rich, entracing voice that rises above  sparser, acoustic production.

6) Johnny Clegg – Human

Welcome back, Johnny Clegg.  Your new album is like getting a letter from an old friend.  Please write sooner next time.

7) Richard Thompson – Dream Attic

The best smoking hot rock and roll album Richard Thompson has released in years.  There’s definitely an edge from the live recording.  Yet, somehow nominated for a GRAMMY in one of the folk categories.

8.  Red Molly – James

Red Molly just continues to produce solid folk recordings built on multi-instrumental wizardry, tight three-part vocal harmonies and well-chosen covers. I particularly love their cover of  “Black Flowers” by Lynn Miles, one of the great recent coal mining songs

9)  Rebecca Loebe – Mystery Prize

Singer-songwriter Rebecca Loebe mixes wit and humor into a thoroughly interesting album filled with lyrical twists and turns.

10)   David Wax Museum – Carpenter Bird

I am a sucker for the interesting things that happen when genres and cultures collide, so it should be no surprise that I’ve fallen hard for the exciting blend of Mexican folk music and Americana provided by David Wax Museum.

Every list like this leaves out a lot of really good music.  Here is the short list of artists on the edge, in alphabetical order:

  • Brooks Williams – Baby O!
  • Carolina Chocolate Drops – Genuine Negro Jig
  • Darrell Scott – Crooked Road
  • David Rawlings Machine – A Friend of a Friend*
  • Freedy Johnston – Rain on the City
  • Great Big Sea – Safe Upon the Shore
  • Johnny Flynn – Been Listening
  • Lake Street Dive – Lake Street Dive
  • Maura Kennedy – Parade of Echoes
  • Mavis Staples – You Are Not Alone
  • Noah Earle – This is the Jubilee
  • Peter Himmelman – The Mystery and the Hum
  • Robert Plant – Band of Joy
  • Roosevelt Dime – Steamboat Soul

*Released 2009 but I didn’t get my hands on it until 2010

2011 is already off to a good start with really fine new releases from Lynn Miles, Amos Lee, Kate Jacobs, Abigail Washburn and David Wax Museum in my hands and the year is only two weeks old.

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