Hopefully you’ve at least heard of some of them.
1. Jo-El Sonnier, Where’s That Music Comin’ From? (MusiCache LLC): Heartfelt English language album by Cajun music accordion/vocal legend leads with “Acadiana”‘s midtempo tribute to his South Louisiana home, then runs the gamut from regional-flavored swamp rock to pure country balladry in showing his pop versatility beyond his traditional Cajun music mastery.
2. Laura Cantrell, Kitty Wells Dresses: Songs Of The Queen Of Country Music (Diesel Only): Today’s young country queens can’t hold a candle to Kitty Wells, or for that matter, Laura Cantrell–who can.
3. Nick Lowe, The Old Magic (Yep Roc): The old singing-songwriting magic indeed, from the old “pure pop for now people” master tunesmith–still Jesus of cool.
4. Nikki Jean, Pennies In A Jar (S-Curve): Bold in concept, Nikki Jean’s debut album, which features her co-writes with legendary songwriters including, Burt Bacharach, Jimmy Webb, Bob Dylan, and Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil, is remarkable in execution.
5. Alison Krauss & Union Station, Paper Airplane (Rounder): First Krauss album with Union Station since 2004 (and first from her since Grammy-winning Raising Sand with Robert Plant) is simply exquisite.
6. Connie Smith, Long Line Of Heartaches (Sugar Hill): They don’t sing country music like this anymore unless they’re Connie Smith, and here she makes as perfect a pure country record as can still be made.
7. Greg Garing, Greg Garing (L.E.S. Rcords): Brilliant genre-bending singer-songwriter Garing’s first studio release since 1997’s Alone straddles horn-driven r&b and hard country and bluegrass, western swing and haunting pop ballads–and somehow it all works.
8. Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Del McCoury Band, American Legacies (McCoury Music): Top bluegrass band meets top Dixieland Band and everyone gets along famously.
9. Ledisi, Pieces Of Me (Verve Forecast): Breakthrough album for spectacular r&b vocalist/songwriter–and positive self-empowerment role model–Ledisi.
10. Garland Jeffreys, The King Of In Between (Luna Park): Up there with Lou Reed among New York’s great rock songwriter-poets, Jeffreys makes a welcome return to form with vivid Stones and reggae-tinged Brooklyn-centered cityscapes.
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