And on to the third chapter.
30. Jamie Lin Wilson – Jumping Over Rocks
Starting this chapter with the new Jamie Lin Wilson album Jumping Over Rocks. She is americana/country songwriter from from D’Hanis, TX. Her music has been a big part of these last months of the year, because I also ended up buying her earlier album. An incredible songwriter and storyteller. Death & Life is one of the songs of the year.
29. Daniel Markham – Hyperspeed
Staying in Texas, but moving to Denton. A long time favourite Daniel Markham shifted to Hyperspeed and managed to deliver a 14 song album that lasts 30 minutes. And a damn good one too. The opener Velvet Elvis the highlight, but everything else works too.
28. Becky Warren – Undesirable
Becky Warren made a powerful and humane american rock’n’roll album. It’s about the people and for the people who have been given a tough hand. It kicks your ass and it makes you think. The singles We’re All We Got and The Drake Motel are remarkable and the rest don’t fall far behind.
27. Foxwarren – Foxwarren (Anti- / Arts & Crafts)
Foxwarren’s self-titled debut came out late in the year, so at this point it’s pretty impossible where to drop it on this list. But this ranking is silly anyway, so I suppose it don’t really matter. This is Andy Shauf’s new project and I’ve been a big fan for several years. Ok, actually this is more like his old project, because this band consists of his childhood friends Darryl Kissick, Avery Kissick and Dallas Bryson and the first recordings took place ten years ago. There’s a song or two that I’m not so sure about, but for the most parts I’ve loved this during our first weeks together.
26. Doug Paisley – Starter Home (No Quarter)
Another long time favourite from Canada. This new Doug Paisley album again contains so much fabulous storytelling and warm and delicate sounds. Title track Starter Home and Drinking with a Friend are a songwriting masterclass. Outstanding record once again from the maestro.
25. John Calvin Abney – Coyote (Black Mesa Records)
Next stop Oklahoma and the latest John Calvin Abney album Coyote. This wonderful album falls somewhere between folk storytelling and soft, dreamy pop music. Excellent songwriting and it sounds so warm and beautiful.
24. American Aquarium – Things Change (Last Chance Records)
One of the premier alt.country bands of today, American Aquarium from North Carolina dropped their new album into my heart back in the summer and it has stayed there ever since. BJ Barham is an excellent storyteller who also isn’t afraid to take a stand. The album opener The World Is On Fire is a powerful song about the election of you know who. However, that’s just one highlight. This one is full of captivating songwriting.
23. Colter Wall – Songs of the Plains (Young Mary’s Record Co)
Back to Canada and Saskatchewan. Colter Wall is singing stories of the past and present with his deep baritone voice and does it masterfully.
22. Michael Nau – Michael Nau & The Mighty Thread (Full Time Hobby)
Michael Nau has again written a really charming, gentle and endearingly beautiful album. This is actually the best one yet and full of magnificent songs. So sweet & lovely, but also with depth & detail. If it feels like the walls are closing in on you, put on the headphones and a Michael Nau record on and he will make you some room to breathe.
21. Clint Michigan – Centuries (Kiam Records)
Clint Michigan has been a big favourite ever since Slowcoustic posted the Coeur d’Alene video five or so years ago. Their new indie folk album Centuries is personal, honest, deeply moving and somehow extremely powerful in all its fragility.
20. H.C. McEntire- Lionheart (Merge Records)
H.C.McEntire has previously written a lot of amazing music for her band Mount Moriah. This outstanding solo debut contains southern country sounds, folk rock songs and soulful gospel hymns. It’s personal, moving and eternally beautiful.
19. Izaak Opatz- Mariachi Static (Mama Bird Recording Co)
Lyle the Intern has done his job well, because the top 20 will be heavy on Mama Bird releases. First one is this lighthearted collection from a heavyweight songwriter. Sure there’s some sadness too, but everything is delivered with a charming smile. Montana mountain man Izaak Opatz released the album originally last year, but I don’t have to bend the rules that much, because it was reissued on vinyl by Mama Bird this summer.
18. Jennifer Castle – Angels of Death (Paradise of Bachelors / Idee Fixe Records)
Next up is one of the finest Canadian songwriters Jennifer Castle. Her new album revolves around lightweight topics like death, grief and mortality, but does it without dragging the listener down. Almost wizardry to write such a beautiful record about these things that I’ve been dead scared of since I was a child.
17. John Prine- The Tree of Forgiveness (Oh Boy Recordings)
The trouble with an including this moving new John Prine album The Tree of Forgiveness is that how can I really put anyone above him in this silly ranking system. This legendary man wrote classic albums before most of the other ones had even been born and the new album shows that he is still capable of doing it. Incredible album.
16. Daniel Romano – Finally Free + Human Touch / Nerveless (New West Records / You’ve Changed Records)
Canadian musical mastermind Daniel Romano actually released three amazing albums this year (+ Ancient Shapes stuff), but I was cruel and in the end I only gave him spot. These all would have made the cut, but it would have meant dropping two more artists and I just wasn’t prepared for that. Human Touch is probably my favorite of the bunch and probably would have been in the top 10. However, in this silly ranking system, I’ll go with the new mysterious Finally Free album which is the only one still available (the other two were only available in January). The highlight All The Reaching Trims can do the honors and close this third chapter of this list.