Sign up for newsletter

Articles and Interviews – 2009


Here it is the top 30 for 2009. This isn't authoritative in case you thought otherwise. It's just one man's opinion about his favorite CDs of the year, which seemed a cut above everything else. It was incredibly hard figuring out a number one CD for the year between the Avett Brothers, Brad Paisley and George Strait. All three were great albums from different perspectives of country and roots music, and at any one time over the past few days, each was my favorite. Come back in a few days, and who knows? Maybe the order will change.

In fact, in going over the list of CDs out this year, it was a strong year for excellent music - it's just that most of it was on the edge and not the mainstream folks like Keith Urban or the new artists who did not sound all that unique.

Without further adieu...

1. Brad Paisley - American Saturday Night - a complete album from one of the finest guitarists out there. He gets serious on the title track instead of relying on novelty. He is solid from start to finish in a bunch of songs that never lag.... »»»

To say that Lyle Lovett has a great new album in "Natural Forces" is a newsflash akin to announcing that oxygen is now available for mass consumption at no charge. Lovett's musical quality is as automatic as a politician's promise and infinitely more trustworthy, which might lead one to believe that, at a certain level, the Texas singer/songwriter has become slightly jaded by the consistent accolades thrown his way. One would be very mistaken.

"After years of making records, I feel so, so lucky to be able to do something I like to do," says Lovett from the comfort of his bus on his current tour. "Playing music is something I still do for fun, and it's really fun to have a new record because it gives you something to talk about and a reason to go out on the road."

Lovett makes it crystal clear that he doesn't take one moment for granted in his career, nearly a quarter century between his amazing 1986 self-titled debut and his freshly released "Natural Forces,"... »»»

Much like her heroes, Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris, Patty Loveless' music has evolved and enjoyed a few reincarnations over the course of her career.

Loveless began working with Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner while still a teenager, before dabbling in North Carolina rock and roll bands for several years. She then joined MCA's Nashville roster from 1985 until 1992, releasing songs like That Kind of Girl and Chains.

Later she signed with Epic Records and won the CMA's Album of the Year for "When Fallen Angels Fly." She then broke from her commercial success to record a couple of bluegrass albums, "Bluegrass and White Snow" and "Mountain Soul" in 2001.

When "Mountain Soul" became a critical success, it wasn't long before fans began requesting a follow-up. "They were questioning last year when I was ever going to do another record such as the first ‘Mountain Soul,'" Loveless says. " So, Saguaro Records came to me about doing another record with them, and we suggested doing one to coincide with the popularity of what the first one did."... »»»

If they were asked to list iconic rockabilly artists, whether pioneering originals or revivalists, it would be easy for serious fans of roots rock to name off the great men of rockabilly. But the job of compiling a similar collection of special women rockers would not be quite so easy and obvious.

For instance, if you look up Rosie Flores' name on under the 'influenced by' section, you'll only find one name, Wanda Jackson. Where are Brenda Lee and Lorrie Collins?

And yet, you can make the case that Flores is the Wanda Jackson of her generation, as this talented singer and guitarist has been rocking since the late '70s and has recorded solo albums under her name since 1987.

Maybe it's tough to list Flores' influences because she covers so much stylistic ground. She played in Screaming Sirens, back when cow-punk wasn't (yet) cool. She also helped turn Los Angeles, that underground roots rock town south of Bakersfield, into a flourishing alternative... »»»

Since Scott and Seth Avett traded in the shredding indie rock sound of their first band, Nemo, for the front porch bluegrass vibe of the Avett Brothers nearly a decade ago, the North Carolina trio (Scott on banjo/vocals, Seth on guitar/vocals and stand-up bassist Bob Crawford) has come to define the DIY ethic.

The Avetts recorded and released their own albums (10 full lengths and EPs over the past 10 years, including 2007's acclaimed "Emotionalism"), booked their own tours and negotiated their first label deal with tiny Ramseur Records 5 years ago.

The Avett Brothers altered their formula somewhat when they signed with Columbia, but not because of their newly established major label status. In fact, the trio already had close to 30 songs written before meeting with legendary producer Rick Rubin, who eventually helmed the sessions that resulted in their amazing new album, "I and Love and You."

"We had all but one," says Scott Avett. "We had started recording before we met with Rick."... »»»

Deer Tick vocalist/guitarist/songwriter John McCauley III is clearly a guy who lets his music do the talking. And on the day of our interview, the Providence, R.I. native is letting his talking do the drinking as he simultaneously enjoys a sunny Colorado afternoon and a margarita before getting ready to drive to Portland, Ore. for the next night's show.

"Wasting away again," says McCauley with an audible smile.

Given Deer Tick's fast track evolution and their fairly relentless road ethic - their current tour has them criss-crossing the country until early November and then heading off to Europe weeks later; they play in Amsterdam on Thanksgiving Day - wasting away isn't something that they do with any regularity.

When he contemplates the shifts from the first Deer Tick album, 2007's "War Elephant," to the band's latest, the June-released "Born on Flag Day," McCauley's answer is reflective of the fact that he doesn't spend an inordinate amount of time navel gazing about his work.... »»»

Time and tide do funny things to memory. When Matt Ward thinks back to how Monsters of Folk - the new multi-genre indie super group featuring Ward, Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis and My Morning Jacket's Jim James - came to be christened, he recalls that the name blinked into consciousness as though "it just came down out of the sky."

As poetic as Ward's description sounds, the explanation probably lies a little closer to Mike Mogis' recollection.

"Our tour manager was like, "You guys are like the monsters of folk,'" says Mogis. "It was very organic."

The general consensus of how the group actually got started seems to be consistent. Various touring combinations of MMJ, Bright Eyes and M. Ward (Matt Ward's solo persona when he's not with actress Zooey Deschanel in the duo She & Him) resulted in after show jams and eventual we-should-do-something-together-sometime discussions.

"When people ask, "Who thought of the idea?,' I honestly can't remember, and I don't think anybody can," says Mogis. "It was that synonymous in our feelings and thinking. We all kind of felt that it already existed."... »»»

Hot Club of Cowtown is a complex band filled with surprises. Evidence: The two singers trade off lead vocals, but the band also plays a lot of instrumentals. They've been successful as a traditional guitar, violin and stand-up bass combo, but recently added a drummer to mix things up on their latest CD, "Wishful Thinking."

The band, which reformed after a hiatus, is complicated not only musically, but also logistically. Founding members Elana James and Whit Smith live in different states: James in Texas and Smith in Oklahoma.

Catching up with the James and Smith on their last night in their respective homes before they continued their tour in the United Kingdom revealed potential good news for the band. James, who lives in Austin, was delighted when Smith announced he might move from Tulsa, his home of two years, back to Austin. That would leave bassist Jake Erwin in Dallas, but the prospect of a shorter commute for all three to rehearse left James enthusiastic.... »»»

For an artist, a famous name could be both a blessing and a curse. But Holly Williams does not see it that way. The Williams in question is the daughter of Hank Jr., which also would make her the granddaughter of Hank Sr. She also is the half-sister of Hank III.

The pressure presumably would be there, but Williams, who just released her second disc of country, rootsy and singer/songwriter sounds, "Here With Me," after a five-year gap due largely in part to a bad car accident involving her sister, is not shy about embracing the family mantle.

"I don't really feel the pressure of an expectation to live up to," she says while en route to Nashville from eastern Tennessee.

But after a major car crash with Hillary, Williams was unsure about her musical career. Her debut , "The Ones We Never Knew," was out in October 2004 on Universal South, but it wasn't happening. After more than a year of touring, "I just wanted a change of pace," she says, indicating she was ready to leave the label. "I decided to see if anything else was out there."... »»»

After first coming to the attention of the bluegrass world with his head-swiveling, jaw-dropping rhythm and lead guitar work in Ricky Skaggs' band a decade and more ago, North Carolina native Bryan Sutton, 35, finds himself among the most in-demand session players in Nashville.

But he also spends time on his own career, having just released his fourth solo Sugar Hill release, "Almost Live," on which he's joined by an ample cast of his peers, billed as "and Friends." The disc is the first since 2006's "Not Too Far from the Tree."

"I'd always wanted to be a session player. I spent a lot of years when I was in high school hanging around recording studios in Asheville and just got the bug to do that kind of work. (I) never had much desire to be on the road a lot, so the move to Nashville was really about pursuing the career of a session musician."

One of the marks of a superior flatpick guitarist is the ability to command as much attention when playing rhythm as playing... »»»

Jay Farrar has traveled a winding path since reassembling the scatterlings of Son Volt five years ago. Although Farrar had been in solo acoustic mode for nearly five years, he got the original Son Volt line-up back to the studio in 2004 to record a version of Alejandro Escovedo's Sometimes for "Por Vida," the tribute/benefit album for the hepatitis-stricken singer/songwriter. Sensing a renewed vigor, Farrar proposed putting the band back together to record a new album, a plan that fell through at the 11th hour.

Undaunted, Farrar contacted friends and sessioners to piece together a new version of Son Volt for 2005's acclaimed "Okemah and the Melody of Riot;" that aggregation toured and largely remained intact for 2007's expansive and schizophonic "The Search." At its conclusion, Farrar knew that the next Son Volt album would turn toward tradition.

"'The Search' was a process of exploring what was out there, in terms of instrumentation and song structure," says... »»»

When last heard from, Charlie Robison released "Good Times " back in 2005 on Dualtone.

No new music since, and in this day and age with the music business in dire straits, waiting so long could be a death sentence for a singer. Fans move on and often aren't so ready to come back.

But the long tall Texan has a ready-made reason for his absence from the scene, which ended in June with the release of the optimistically titled "Beautiful Day" on Dualtone.

Unfortunately for him, the "good times" didn't exactly dominate all phases of his life. "Three kids and a divorce," says Robison during a telephone interview, explaining the delay. "That does consume a helluva lot of time."

The split was from Dixie Chicks member Emily Robison in what seems to be a remarkably friendly divorce. Consider that just a few weeks prior to the interview, the two went to a restaurant together with a couple, who they used to get together with when married.... »»»

In some ways, the summer will bring with it all the activities that an 18-year-old high school graduate and musician like Sarah Jarosz might expect. She received her diploma, graduated with honors, accepted a scholarship to attend the prestigious New England Conservatory of Music in Boston in the fall, and she will be playing at music festivals all summer. Oh yes...and she just released her first album on Sugar Hill Records, featuring performances by Nickel Creek virtuoso Chris Thile, bluegrass legend Del McCoury and Stuart Duncan.

Jarosz was raised in Wimberley, Texas, just outside the live music hub of Austin. Her mother played rhythm guitar and wrote songs, and her parents exposed her to all kinds of music - from rock and blues to country and bluegrass. The young Jarosz showed an interest and talent for music almost immediately; she began playing banjo and singing at 2 years old, picked up piano at 10 and slowly added clawhammer banjo, mandolin and guitar to her musical arsenal.... »»»

There's a hardscrabble folk-rock vibe on "Roadhouse Sun," the new Lost Highway album from Ryan Bingham and The Dead Horses. When asked Bingham about that sound and the equally tough songs, he replied that it comes from what he knows, what's comfortable.

The songs are stories. With the Dead Horses backing him up, Bingham is allowed to create some beautiful music, as is evidenced on songs like the dreamy Bluebird and straight-to-the-heart Tell My Mother I Miss Her So. "Songwriting is a way of getting things off my chest," Bingham says.

Fresh off the road for a few weeks, Bingham, 28, is back at his home in Topanga Canyon, a place in the Los Angeles area that has been home to hippies and rock-n-rollers for years and now counts New Mexico native Bingham as a resident. Interestingly, on his new album, he features a new song called Roadhouse Blues on "Roadhouse Sun." It's rumored that Jim Morrison of The Doors wrote his Roadhouse Blues about Topanga Canyon.... »»»

When BR549 took a hiatus three years ago, frontman Chuck Mead found inspiration in another form of collaboration, as a staff songwriter for Ten Ten Music Group, a Nashville publishing house. All the songs on his first solo effort, the self-released "Journeyman's Wager," except for a George Harrison-penned Beatles cover, come from that fruitful stint.

Mead says he still has a deal with Ten Ten, but he is no longer drawing a salary. "It was great because I learned how to sit in a room with someone with a blank piece of paper and come out with something. It's pretty intimate thing to do, and some experiences are better than others, but given the right person you can come out with something pretty damn good like that with a couple of people bouncing ideas off each other."

"There's a craft to it," he says, "but there's also learning from the other person and incorporating it into your own writing that you maybe consider too personal to write with anybody else."... »»»

The first notes of The Greencards' "Fascination," the title track of their third CD, announce a new direction for the band formerly associated with the next wave of bluegrass. The song starts softly, almost imperceptibly before the mandolin strings are carefully plucked and the vocals of Carol Young soar in, smooth and confident.

Young, founding member, songwriter and primary vocalist for the Greencards, explains why the band wanted to change gears on their first CD on Sugar Hill Records.

"We've been playing together for a bit more than six years," says Young by phone while her tour bus is on the way to St. Louis. Her voice has the familiar Aussie cheerful lilt and bares little resemblance to the nuanced chanteuse on the albums. "There is a creative aspect that grows. You really have no power over that. It just happens. We love playing music, and we love playing live shows, and pushing ourselves every night is a big part of it. And while we love traditional music and... »»»

Alecia Nugent is quick to point out that there's more than a little irony in the title of her third album. Around the time her second album, "A Little Girl…A Big Four Lane," hit the stores, prominent Music City journalist and critic Robert K. Oermann dubbed her a "hillbilly goddess" (which he reaffirms in his liner notes for the new disc), and the sobriquet has stuck to her since, despite the fact that her central Louisiana hometown of Hickory Grove is singularly lacking in hilltops and hollers.

Taking advantage of the opportunity to try out her own developing talents as a tunesmith, she co-wrote the album's title track with Sonya Kelly and Carl Jackson, who continues as her producer. An up-tempo testament to the virtues of the kind of gal who prefers the Tennessee version of Paris to the French one, Nugent laughs as she agrees that the song was a blast to write.

"We toyed with the idea of writing the Hillbilly Goddess song for a while because I was afraid that... »»»

At first blush it would seem an odd fit, backing a female folk-bluegrass singer working on her debut album with Elvis Costello's drummer, Tom Petty's keyboardist and plopping Led Zeppelin's bassist in the producer's chair. Sure, her brother gets to accompany her on guitar, and a former band mate adds a mandolin run here and there. Yet her steel guitarist isn't known for his Nashville riffs, but, instead, for West Coast-influenced licks for rockers Peter Case, Sheryl Crow and Wilco.

It would appear to be a recipe for disaster, a one-album flameout. But in the end, does it all fit? In a word — harmoniously.

To understand why Sara Watkins assembled a studio full of rock luminaries for her self-titled debut on Nonesuch Records — as well as the likes of Tim O'Brien, Ronnie McCoury and Gillian Welch - takes an understanding of just who she is professionally. Watkins, of course, is one-third of the Grammy-winning, gold record-selling band Nickel Creek, which broke down so... »»»

When Dave Alvin thinks back on the single tragic event that sparked his two latest albums, he recalls teetering on the edge of believing that it happened at all.

"This kind of got started as a reaction to the death of my best friend Chris Gaffney, who was a singer, songwriter, accordionist, guitarist and my spiritual advisor," says Alvin. "He'd been playing with my band, the Guilty Men, for years when he wasn't playing with his band, the Hacienda Brothers. So, the first couple of gigs that we did after Chris passed away, I was literally looking for him onstage. There were moments where I'd forgot that he'd passed away. I was like, 'Where's that harmony? Where's the accordion?'"

When Gaffney lost his long battle with liver cancer last April, Alvin found himself needing to express his loss in some creative fashion while simultaneously experiencing an almost incapacitating amount of grief. One of Alvin's first thoughts was that Gaffney had been largely unheralded as a songwriter in his lifetime and that he deserved a proper tribute to that aspect of his career.... »»»

"I'm a viper of melody/I can roll in most any key/When I open up my heart and sing/I can make the bad times swing" - Viper of Melody

A throwback juke joint crooner with a passion for rockabilly, swing, jazz, the blues and honky tonk, over the course of 14-plus years, Wayne "The Train" Hancock has recorded a string of studio albums praised by critics and music fans alike starting with "Thunderstorms and Neon Signs' in 1995.

Now with the release of "Viper of Melody," Hancock's fourth album for the Chicago-based Bloodshot Records label, Hancock opted to break from his regular routine. Yes, he was once again joined in the studio by his longtime producer and musical collaborator Lloyd Maines, but he recorded the new album live with the members of his touring band at that time – Huckleberry Johnson (upright bass), Anthony Locke (steel guitar) and Izak Zaidman (electric guitar).

"It seems like the music is best when it is live, so we just play three takes of each song, sometimes four," says Hancock in a telephone interview, adding, "The album came off without a hitch - it was easy, it was easy to record."... »»»

John Doe came to fame as the singer/bassist in X, the seminal L.A. punk band. In the late ‘70s, he, along with his then-wife Exene Cervenka, helped define American punk rock. But some were surprised when these two put out "Poor Little Critter on the Road," the debut for a side project called The Knitters in 1986. Among its couple of new songs, and an X re-do, was a beautiful version of Merle Haggard's Silver Wings, which revealed that Doe had both the skills and the true love to play country music.

Many may have been caught off guard by this unusual turn of events, but in truth, everybody should have seen it coming. After all, Doe hinted at his sincere knowledge of roots music back in 1983, on X's "More Fun in the New World" record. In a song called I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts, he complains: "Woody Guthrie sang about b-e-e-t-s, not b-e-a-t-s."

In one sense, these words were an appalled reaction to the overly synthetic rock scene at the time.... »»»

Even saying that 2008 was a great year for Dailey & Vincent may be an understatement. The bluegrass duo dished out a well-received debut disc, scored a big hit single in bluegrass circles with By the Mark, played a zillion concert dates and cleaned up at the International Bluegrass Music Association awards last fall.

But that was then, and "Brothers From Different Mothers," their dozen-song sophomore release, is now.

Jamie Dailey & Darrin Vincent indicate during a telephone call from the Nashville area where they both live that their initial success resulted from adhering to a more traditional form of bluegrass. "We went in with the intention of not making our music overly produced, keeping it clean, keeping it real, keeping it traditional," says Dailey, who logged time with Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver before embarking on this venture. "A lot of music is going what we call way left. We were trying to keep ours way right. I told Darrin if everybody's taking a left, we need to go right. That might be some of it."... »»»

After beginning his musical ascension as lead singer with the eclectic country band The Mavericks during the 1990s, Raul Malo has continued to shed the shackles of limitations heaped upon him by the Nashville machine and corporate labels. He has never cared being forced into a particular genre. That is why now free of all conceived expectations, Malo came out swinging once again with his first original solo material in seven years.

On "Lucky One," Malo draws from his past to create a record full of diversity. "I grew up in Miami, and listened to all music, with no prejudice or conceptions of what genres even were at that time," says Malo, 43. "Music was music to me. My parents were Cuban, so I was always around different styles of music growing up. We had all the great rock and roll records from the '50s and '60s, plus all of the Cuban music. On Saturday nights I would sit in front of the TV and watch Lawrence Welk and Hee Haw. I never knew Hee Haw was country music. I just knew that it was different and liked it."... »»»

With only a cursory glance at our economy, it's safe to say America is down in an emotional valley, rather than riding high upon a hill. Unemployment is on the rise, the housing market has tanked, and the stock market is seemingly in a schizophrenic state of confusion. America's history is comprised of both "Hills and Valleys."

"I think the hard times...I won't say it makes people more honest, but it makes ‘em search a little bit deeper about some things, and then maybe honesty comes into play on some levels," says Butch Hancock, who is one-third of Texas' fabled The Flatlanders, releasing a new disc, "Hills and Valleys" in late March.

I think it's an age old malady of the human species that we lie to ourselves. We lie to each other a lot. But we lie to ourselves more than anything else. Hard times or good times, it doesn't matter which. The hard times…it gives a little bit of shock, and we stop and take a step back and maybe have a chance to reassess. And that's... »»»

Put the words and the rootsy, restless music aside for a moment. "Midnight at the Movies," the second Bloodshot Records release from 27-year-old Justin Townes Earle, has another striking element: the generous, double-panel photo spread inside the CD package that seemingly features everybody involved with the album's creation. The photos fall somewhere between candid shots and formal sittings. Think senior pictures if, that is, you went to an especially cool high school and the photo backdrop was funky antique-yellow wallpaper.

"I kind of have a bit of an obsession with portraits," says Earle, on the phone from Nashville. "I like to go to thrift stores and find other people's family portraits. I find something very fascinating about them; I have them all over my house."

But this collection of close-ups is clearly more than a nod to a hobby. It's an acknowledgment of everybody's contributions to "Midnight at the Movies," and it's a creative way of making the point that, in Earle's words, "It ain't just about me. I'm not some kind of super songwriting being who can do all this on his own."... »»»

It's barely six weeks into 2009, and already it's been a banner year for Ray Benson. In January alone, Benson took his band, Asleep at the Wheel, to perform in Washington, D.C., during the presidential inauguration festivities. A couple of days later, he met the newest little member of western swing's most recognizable band, as Asleep at the Wheel drummer Dave Sanger and vocalist Elizabeth McQueen brought their infant daughter Lisel to Benson's Bismeaux studios for her own little debut.

But it's the month of February that may mark one of the watershed moments for the nine-time Grammy-winning group, which for three decades has carried the torch passed along by the likes of western swing icons Bob Wills, Milton Brown, J.R. Chatwell and Cliff Bruner. In early February, the Wheel released a 12-song collection of classics with Willie Nelson handling the vocals.

Yet it's neither a Wills tribute nor a roundup of the tried-and-true western swing standards. Missing from the set list is Faded Love and San Antonio Rose. There's no Stay All Night (Stay a Little Longer) or Roly Poly.... »»»

Dierks Bentley wasn't complaining at all about his new CD, "Feel That Fire." But it comes at a time where Bentley spends a lot of time on the road, has a new daughter and always seems to be in motion. "At times, it was organic, and at times, looking back on it, it was a lot of work," says Bentley in a phone call in early January from Memphis on the opening night of a tour. "We spent two years making this record. It was the most time consuming and probably the most expensive I've ever made."

"I try to make records to encapsulate all the different elements of who I am and what I am experiencing at the time and certainly musically what I'm into. I love bluegrass music. I love traditional music. I like good rock bands. I like all the sounds. I'm willing to explore wherever my heart wants to go. Really if I had any conscious thing I wanted to do on this record, it was to combine a lot of the fun of 'What Was I Thinkin' and 'How Am I Doin' on that first record... »»»

A decade ago, Gurf Morlix was cruising through his musical life with an enviable reputation as a renowned sideman and growing credibility as a producer. His 11-year creative collaboration as guitarist, bandleader and backing vocalist with Lucinda Williams culminated with his production work on her eponymous 1988 album and 1992's "Sweet Old World."

Morlix's work behind the board for Williams ultimately led him to other production assignments for Ray Wylie Hubbard, Slaid Cleaves, Robert Earl Keen and Mary Gautier, but his relationship with his longtime boss began to crumble during the protracted sessions for her breakthrough hit, "Car Wheels on a Gravel Road," which he abandoned two years before its eventual release.

Still in all, he looks back on his time with Williams with affection. "Lucinda is a great songwriter, and I worked with her for 11 years," says Morlix, 57. "It got a little intense. You have cut some of these artists some slack because they're artists, and... »»»

Once standing on stage at the Grand Ole Opry as a rising star as the lead singer for Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys, bluegrass guitarist Ernie Thacker now struggles from his wheelchair on a daily basis.

A car accident near his home in 2006 left him paralyzed from the waist down. His survival was called a medical miracle, after suffering 12 broken ribs, a broken collar bone, ruptured spleen and a crushed aorta. Since the accident, he has battled several infection setbacks and continues to rehab each day. His largest obstacle to overcome musically has been the loss of half a lung. However, he was not deterred from completing his debut record for Pinecastle Records, "Hangman," set for release in February. "I have had to learn how to sing all over," says Thacker from his Clinchco, Va. home. "What I used to do in one breath now takes two or three. It has been very hard, but I think it is getting better. It just takes time."... »»»

Putting together a best of list gives a chance to revisit CDs good and bad that came out during the year. And the compilation, of course, is far from definitive.

While some may be hamstrung by a "Top 10," Country Standard Time is not. As a result, our best of consists of the "Top 18" plus honorable mentions. The list includes some tried and true country stars, an artist going back to her West Virginia roots, a comeback album, some great bluegrass albums, even an unknown band from Brooklyn (Yes, there is country music in Brooklyn).

Who avoided the sophomore slump? Who's the best new artist? And what took home the Kiss of Death award?

This is just one person's opinion, but here goes the best of 2008:

1. Alan Jackson - Good Time (Arista). AJ has been a solid purveyor of traditional country since the get go with odes to small town America, rural life and love, not to mention a sense of humor. Jackson proves ultra generous with 17 songs on a most meaty, enjoyable, enduring batch of songs.... »»»