Black Friday. Small Biz Saturday. Sunday. Cyber Monday. Whatever Whenever.
There’s no good excuse not to buy somebody you love some good music for Christmas. Or Hanukkah, Or Kwanzaa, Or Yuletide. Or Whatever.
The Americana Radio Charts et al are bursting with late year releases of Roots and Traditional Country music. New stuff is Autumn is good for stocking stuffers even if they won’t garner enough spins for many Top 10 year-long lists. So while you wait for my Top 10 (or Top 20 or Top 30 or whatever) lists, here’s three ladies & a cowboy to start off your Xmas shopping:
Lee Ann Womack—The Lonely, The Lonesome & The Gone: Lee Ann Womack, a Nashville veteran, goes home to deliver 14 tracks of country gold. Released in October, Wikipedia (where I borrowed the cover image) quotes (apparently Rolling Stone with unclear attribution) “I wanted to get out of Nashville, and tap the deep music and vibe of East Texas. I wanted to make sure this record had a lot of soul in it, because real country music has soul. I wanted to remind people of that.”
Margo Price—All American Made: Margo Rae Price knocked Lucas Nelson off the top spot on the AMA radio chart this week with her sophomore album that features a duet with his father, Willie Nelson. Increasingly noticed as an outspoken critic around Nashville. I like the first 11 tracks on this album (and unclick the title track that would be right at home on a Steve Earle album). Price is a great songwriter and performer. She may take her craft down Earle’s blatantly political track. I’m hoping she matures more subtle like Nelson. We’ll see. For now, this is a sure bet if you have cousins in the Resistance.
Dori Freeman—Letters Never Read: Dori Freeman‘s cut “Where I Stood” was my favorite (or at least most played) song of 2016. Dori is also opinionated in an already subtle, quieter manner that strikes me as both mature and wise like an ancient murder ballad come to life (except this time the villain gets the knife). The Galax, Virginia, singer-songwriter’s follow up to her self-titled debut continues to draw on both Appalachian country-folk traditions and modern sensibilities. The album has also drawn kudos from Rolling Stone and NPR.
Ned LeDoux—Sagebrush: First off, yes, Ned LeDoux is the son of famed country & western artist and rodeo cowboy Chris LeDoux of Kaycee, Wyoming (pop. 263), and played in his father’s band. Yet while he rides for the brand keeping that tradition alive, Ned wears his 0wn hat. Sagebrush is a full-length debut building on the 5-song Forever a Cowboy EP released in 2016. I’m partial to “Johnson County War” but you’ll find a variety from rodeo to radio-friendly tunes that will keep your Christmas stocking two-stepping.
After you’ve filled your Amazon cart (or amazed your local record shop with your amazing good taste in music), go ahead and check out:
- Folkish: Nora Jane Struthers—Champion
- Folkish Trio: The Wailin’ Jennys—Fifteen
- Jamin’ Country Folky (more country than Music Row): Turnpike Troubadours—A Long Way from Your Heart
- Neotrad Texas Country: Whitney Rose—Rule 62
- Pop Country (it’s Texas if you gotta): Granger Smith—When the Good Guys Win