Albums of 2016

Richmond Fontaine – You Can’t Go Aback If There’s Nothing To Go Aback To

When Richmond Fontaine singer/ songwriter Willy Vlautin announced, at the alpha of 2016, that the alt-country stalwarts were assuredly calling it quits the account came as a complete abruptness to all but the combo’s abutting confidantes. Even admitting RF had taken a aback seat, as Vlautin recorded a brace of abstract albums with his awakening country-soul accouterments The Delines, it was affected that the Portland based bandage would artlessly aces up area they larboard off with 2011’s The Top Country.

In accuracy The Top Country was something of an asperous and afraid almanac which fell someway abbreviate of its author’s ambitions, abrogation Vlautin doubly bent to accomplish a final anthology that would acquiesce the bandage go out on a high. The aftereffect was the august You Can’t Go Aback If There’s Nothing to Go Aback To, a adorable Americana masterpiece surpassing, even, the groups own complete battleground in the acreage Post to Wire (2003). So there was a argent lining to the band’s breach up afterwards all as Richmond Fontaine delivered a arresting agreeable departing attempt that will answer down the decades.

Courtney Marie Andrews – Honest Life

Being answer as a ‘phenomenal songwriter’ by none added than Ryan Adams absolutely accumulated the burden on Courtney Marie Andrews to buck something absolutely out of the accustomed on her latest anthology Honest Life. It’s fortunate, then, that Andrews isn’t absolutely your boilerplate recording artist; for starters, she’s a crammer – Honest Life is her sixth anthology in eight years (tellingly, though, it’s her aboriginal aback 2013), she’s aswell appear a six- clue E.P Leuven Letters, and managed to charge in a biking bout or two as abetment diva with her compatriots from Phoenix; Jimmy Eat World.

While Honest Life doesn’t in actuality get a European absolution until January next year, it’s been acquiescently accustomed stateside (not a analysis goes by afterwards a allegory to Joni Mitchell!). The admirable leadoff individual “How Quickly your Affection Mends” is every bit as acceptable a country song as Margo Price’s complete “Hands of Time” and leaves no one in any agnosticism as to Andrews’ actuating way with a lyric –

‘Empty promises and a torn affection / Hiding in the bath of this bar / Bridge out your name in my apperception / I’ll cantankerous out castigation now that you’ve beyond out abundance / The jukebox is arena a sad country song / For all the animal Americans / Now I feel like one of them /Dancing abandoned and torn by the freedom’.

Other standout advance on this country-folk archetypal are the alone carol “Table for One” and the cerebration woman’s toe-tapper “Irene”, but there absolutely are no anemic spots in what should be a career-changing album.

David Corley – Lights Out

When you accept to delay until the accomplished old age of 53 for your admission anthology to acquisition its way into the shops, you’re not about to let the dust achieve beneath your anxiety if it comes to re-booking the recording studio. It’s understandable, then, that not even a above affection advance suffered during an acclamation in Groningen 14 months ago, could anticipate Corley laying down a accelerated aftereffect to endure year’s amazing Available Light (nominated for best anthology on this actual blog endure year).

After the aberrant job he did in co-ordinating, bearing and arena on Available Light, Hugh Christopher Brown alternate to baby-sit assembly and accumulate a alert eye on our aberrant hero. Equally exhilarant but appreciably edgier than its predecessor, Lights Out already afresh meshed calm Dylan, Waits and Springsteen in thrillingly off-kilter fashion. Highlights included the blue choke of “Lightning Downtown”, the bedrock ‘n’ cycle boom of “The Dividing Line” and the angry carol “Down with the Universe”. These are aberrant and admirable tracks, with the added benefit that anniversary is articulate (sort of) in that abnormally bent and glottal voice!

Karl Blau – Introducing Karl Blau

Twenty years into a career that has, so far, adapted into indie-rock, bivouac folk and the odd dabbling with afrobeat, the bohemian singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Karl Blau abutting armament with in-demand ambassador Tucker Martine (The Decembrists, Surfjan Stevens & My Morning Jacket) to accept an absurd covers anthology that spanned anybody from The Bee Gees to Townes Van Zandt.

The adjustment of the day actuality is a accumulating of simple alert earworms for country music admirers into aberrant geniuses like Bill Callahan and Terry Allen, with the highlight getting the sorrowful, burst baritone that Blau brings to buck on his heart-achingly aboveboard awning of the Tom T. Hall carol “That’s How I Got to Memphis”. Next best is the ten minute tour-de force “Falling Rain”.

Aled Rheon – A Gorgeous Charge

2016 saw bilingual singer/songwriter Aled Rheon buck his actual aboriginal English accent recording and it accepted to be an complete joy, with a scattering of admirable folk-pop abstract to be begin a part of its 5 above tracks. The E.P. bliss off with a claimed favourite, the tender-hearted carol “September” (after a annealed drink, or two, I’ve even been accepted to cheep that “September” is the song of the century), so it comes as a absolute abruptness to acquisition its accompaniment piece, “Wrap up Warm”, arising as this collection’s top point.

Rheon is able to address songs that, on aboriginal listen, almost assume able to abutment their own weight, yet anon reveal, bandage by layer, an buried gravitas. A prime archetype is “Wrap up Warm”, cautiously bizarre actuality by a comfortable cello, which starts out with Rheon touchingly dispensing all address of practical, affectionate admonition from ‘eat your greens’ to ‘call me if you get there’, and ends with the accompanist adopting the role of abstruse accompaniment –

‘Find your friends, accessible your apperception / yield those books off the shelf and get a faculty of yourself / Fool around, acquisition what’s appropriate / aces your boundaries and aces your fights… / Acquisition your feet, or yield flight / It’s a big apple out there, so yield a chaw / Acquisition the one, authority on bound / The future’s pulling, clocks are ticking’.

It’s a beautifully advised lyric with a achievement to match, as Rheon’s contemplative and aerial articulate manages to accomplish James Taylor complete like Jello Biafra!

While a admission anthology may be some ambit off, we should calculation our blessings; A Gorgeous Charge is a agreeable abundance absolute that will cosset the affection and body adjoin the long, winter nights to come.

Margo Price – Mid West Farmer’s Daughter

Mixing calm bank amusement and determined anecdotal balladry fabricated Mid -West Farmer’s Daughter one of the a lot of alarmingly acclaimed albums of the year, notching up baronial positions in the end of year acclamation at NME, Uncut, Rolling Stone, Mojo and anywhere abroad you ability affliction to look. It’s not harder to see why – Price is one sassy, soulful, shit-kicking country diva in the authoritative (not that the deplorable, ultra- bartering and advisedly non-country Country Music Association would agree). Price is a able songwriter too, with an eye for a lyric that cuts appropriate to the hunt and a agonizing backstory that could accommodate abundant actual for a half-dozen uncompromising albums in the above vein.

The aperture ballad of “Since You Put Me Down” showcases her no nonsense, confessional access –

‘Since you put me down / I’ve been bubbler just to asphyxiate / I’ve been lying through the cracks of my teeth / I’ve been waltzing with my sin / He’s an animal angry accompanying / He’s a bifold – crossing, aback cutting thief’.

Often compared to country legends like Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton, songs like the aces opener “Hands of Time” absolve all the columnist advertising and more!

Dori Freeman – Dori Freeman

2016 has been a arch year for countryesque Americana and Dori Freeman’s eponymous admission is a abuse abreast absolute archetype of why; there’s a aloof integrity, a singer/songwriter’s artlessness and a country singer’s air of angry affront that cements these ten accomplished songs deeply together.

Late in 2014, Freeman beatific an unsolicited song, via Facebook, to the admired artist Teddy Thompson who was artlessly agape out by the track, abandoning that it alone took him ’10 to 12 abnormal to realise that “Lullaby” was great’ and to actuate that he capital to get on lath as Freeman’s producer. Just a few months, and one Kickstarter attack later, the 24 yr old from the baby boondocks of Galax, Virginia was in Thompson’s New York flat laying down the audience for her amazing debut.

The aces of a bonanza crop are the above “Lullaby”, the affecting “Where I Stood” (which appearance a accord from Thompson himself) and the starkly admirable “Go on Loving”, on which Freeman’s country convulsion veers against the articulate appearance of a assertive Iris Dement. Now, if that isn’t advocacy enough!

Borders – Climbing Trees

Climbing Trees’ admission anthology Hebron (2013) was an all-embracing masterpiece, aggregate calm elements of folk, gospel, alt-country and indie-pop in a exciting beverage that the band, alone half-jokingly, codification as “Cymrucana”. Its long-awaited follow-up, the Welsh Music Prize nominated Borders, was a added focused affair, with the administration of biking acutely appear the mainstream. Identifiable traces of the old Climbing Trees’ complete underpinned the record, though, abnormally on the poppy “Amber” and the ethereal, harmony-coated “Fall”, but it was the stupendously addictive “Lost”, with its super-size me chorus, that testified to the actuality that actuality was an anthology with added analgesic hooks than a Chicago meat-packing bulb at Christmas!

As for which way the bandage will yield things in 2017, who knows, but a apple-pie barber and a apparel change ability just about-face these roots rockers into a Valley’s adaptation of The Killers!