The highlight of 2013 was the release of Reckless Kelly's stunning "Long Night Moon."
A lush, beautiful collection of ballads and rockers, this is some of the most superb writing of their career thus far. I don't have a favorite song on this record because each one is its own little gem. The theme of traveling weaves its way through the collection, mixed with heartache, loss, and social issues. The music here is more understated than in past albums and the songwriting is impeccable. Complex lyrics and the gorgeous instruments make this album a delightful listen time after time. (Read my full review here http://gypsysoule.blogspot.com/2013/09/long-night-moon-album-review.html)
Another magnificent release from earlier this year is Jason Boland & The Stragglers' "Dark & Dirty Mile."
A diverse collection of subject matter ranging from the Ludlow massacre to poignant love songs to sometimes not so subtle political references. The Stragglers are deeply rooted in traditional country; Boland's songs are captivating and engage the listener on a level I've not experienced with any other artist. Every song is a masterpiece, each has its own story to hypnotize the listener.
Again, it's hard to pick favorites from this set, I love every song.
Ashley Monroe's outstanding "Like A Rose" was released in March and is a mega dose of traditional country served up with a wallop of modern themes. Standout tracks include the exquisite title track, "Used," "Weed Instead Of Roses," "Monroe Suede," and "She's Driving Me Out Of Your Mind." This is real, pure country music, Monroe has a lovely voice that has a ethereal sound.
"Same Trailer Different Park" is Kacey Musgraves' breakout major label debut also released in March to much anticipation. Although the collection is full of simple melodies and beautiful vocals, it offers a heavy punch of small town realities and social issues. Topics range from positive anthems like "Silver Lining" and the infectious "Follow Your Arrow" to sad, heavy ballads such as "It Is What It Is" and "Keep It To Yourself." Standouts include the first single "Merry Go 'Round," "My House," the clever "Step Off," and "Blowin' Smoke." Musgraves sings beyond her years in a plaintive delivery of real life not heard much these days on mainstream country radio. Musgraves is a breath of fresh air in an otherwise stale country format and is breaking down barriers one song at a time.
Courtney Patton's second album "Triggering A Flood" is a powerhouse of a collection, served up with a strong vocal and amazing songwriting.
I'm a little late to the bandwagon, having just discovered Patton's music recently. Standout tracks include "Twisted," "Better Man," "Lamplight," "Light Fades," "It's A Shame" and "It's Not Easy." Patton has a traditional country voice and it shines here on these bitter songs about lost love and cheating. Patton's profound lyrics and the instruments complement Patton's strong vocal beautifully.
"Some Old, Some New, Maybe A Cover Or Two" by Cody Canada is an acoustic release recorded in Port Aransas, Texas earlier this year. Although it doesn't cover any new material, it is a wonderful collection of tunes and stories. The back stories are worth the price of the album alone.
Go buy these fantastic records, you won't be disappointed. 2013 has been an incredible year for music and here's to 2014!