Americana Music Awards 2018: We Can Do Better

Executive Summary:  Jason Isbell won the Americana awards.  Again.  And he deserves it.

The Americana Honors & Awards honored and awarded the toast of Nashville for 2018, as voted by the members of the Americana Music Association.  I was once one—a member, not an honoree, by gosh.  I still self-identify as an Americana fan… much as I self-identify as a member of a political party.  I am an Americana fan as I understood Americana when I first became an Americana fan.  The current party is interesting, but I getting more and more difficult to decipher.  That as it may be…

Long version—the nominees, with winners emboldened:

Album of the Year:
“All American Made,” Margo Price, Produced by Jeremy Ivey, Alex Munoz, Margo Price and Matt Ross-Spang
“By The Way, I Forgive You,” Brandi Carlile, Produced by Dave Cobb and Shooter Jennings
“The Nashville Sound,” Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Produced by Dave Cobb
“Rifles & Rosary Beads,” Mary Gauthier, Produced by Neilson Hubbard

Artist of the Year:
Brandi Carlile
Jason Isbell
Margo Price
John Prine

Duo/Group of the Year:
I’m With Her
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real
Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats

Emerging Act of the Year:
Courtney Marie Andrews
Tyler Childers
Anderson East
Lilly Hiatt

Song of the Year:
“A Little Pain,” Margo Price, Written by Margo Price
“All The Trouble,” Lee Ann Womack, Written by Waylon Payne, Lee Ann Womack and Adam Wright
“If We Were Vampires,” Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Written by Jason Isbell
“The Joke,” Brandi Carlile, Written by Brandi Carlile, Dave Cobb, Phil Hanseroth and Tim Hanseroth

Instrumentalist of the Year:
Daniel Donato
Brittany Haas
Jerry Pentecost
Molly Tuttle

I have no beef with Jason Isbell, or John Prine for that matter, and I like the Tyler Childers, too, even if Childers isn’t so sure what Americana is either.  My last.fm profile says I’ve listened to Brandi Carlile, but not much.  I liked Margo Price’s initial release but she’s gone off the liberal deep end—Isbell isn’t afraid to get political, but he’s not a one-trick pony either.  I’m With Her, Lukas Nelson, and Nathaniel Ratliff are good, too, but just good, not great to date.

No, my difficulty in deciphering is more that I like Jason Isbell, but I have such high expectations I really think he can do a LOT better than “If We Were Vampires”.  I have high expectations for many artists that I think can do better.  We can all do better.

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