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MIKE RITCHIE LOOKS BACK OVER 2015 ALBUMS – AND AHEAD TO SOME CRACKERS

New albums in the New Year already causing a stir – Cam Penner, Malcolm Holcombe, Dan Stuart, Norrie McCulloch, Lucinda Williams, Blue Rose Code among them.

 

Before then, here are some of my favourite releases of 2015 – in no set order. I have played all these artists on my weekly radio show, and often.

 

Enjoying myself with Celtic Music Radio and very grateful to the support I’m receiving, pleased by the kind comments about the show and I hugely appreciate the music sent or suggested by  excellent promoters, PR people, record labels and talented artistes themselves. Best wishes to you all for 2016 – and I hope all who create good music are heard by as big a number of listeners as possible. You have my admiration.

 

Here we go.

 

Iris DeMent – The Trackless Woods

Glorious set of piano led songs with lyrics taken from Russian poetry. Recorded in her living room and dedicated to her adopted Russian: just brilliant

Track:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bl-52N00Rsk

 

 

David Corley – Available Light

Totally stunning debut ­– big boy music, meaningful, collar-grabbing and heartfelt. Probably my most played album of the year.

Track (explicit): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fb7V1XZHUzU

 

 

James McMurtry – Complicated Game

The incomparable Texan never fails to please. He shifted down a gear for most of these thoughtful tracks and continued to impress. This song zings along, mind you.

Track: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0BhwLamL_8

 

 

Michael Rank & Stag – Horsehair

Really hope he doesn't stay undiscovered for too long. This, like all his music, is pure magic. Sorrowful and dark with glorious duets to savour. Marvellous.

Track: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMWCyTQbSGI

 

 

Dark Green Tree – Secret Lives

Such a stunning album from the Edinburgh-based band played with no little style and moodiness.

Track: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fs3Q5Zkxouc

 

 

Mandolin Orange – Such Jubilee

Bought on a whim after scanning a Rolling Stone magazine article about 30 great albums we’d probably never hear. It was at number 30… it is gorgeous.

Track: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RREoo7HFabc&index=2&list=RD...

 

 

Malcolm Holcombe – The RCA Sessions

Cheating slightly as this is a retrospective of the irrepressible man’s career. But he did go back into the studio to re-record them all and each one is a gem.

Track: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=juI6XO6vkWc

 

 

Phil Lee – Some Gotta Lose

Strangely enough didn’t rate this on first listen but it grew on me and in “Don’t Tell Me Now” he has created a sleazily, edgy classic.

Track: http://www.philleeone.com/audio/

 

Andrew Hawkey – What Did I Come Up Here For?

The man from wild hills sent me his album, filled me in on the back story, was pleased when I played it on the radio and met up again with the girl he let go in this song some 30 years later. Call me a softie. Great songs.

Track: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zwujZ0xb2FI

 

The Mike & Ruthy Band – Bright As You Can

This is a mighty fine teasing mix of sounds – bluegrass, straight down the road country, alt folk, blues and soul. Delicious. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SsH0On0Ny_c

 

And pushing hard and played a lot were:

 

Cale Tyson – Introducing Cale Tyson

Pharis & Jason Romero – A Wanderer I’ll Stay

The Wynntown Marshals – End of the Golden Age

Dean Owens – Into The Sea

Dave Rawlings Machine – Nashville Obsolete.

 

There will be some I’ve overlooked – that’s the problem with these summaries. Good fun, though.

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Year 2016

1
Levi Parham
90 pts.
These American Blues
Music Road Records
GC,JBO,TK
2
Martha Fields
86 pts.
Southern White Lies
Independent
BP,BH,FB,JAB,RW,SP
3
Carter Sampson
75 pts.
Wilder Side
Independent/CRS
AN,CRS,JB
4
Anna Elizabeth Laube
65 pts.
Tree
Ahh...Pockets! Records
DH,NC
5
Michael McDermott
60 pts.
Willow Springs
Pauper Sky Records
BK,MM
6
Shovels & Rope
54 pts.
Little Seeds
New West
 
7
Robert Ellis
53 pts.
Robert Ellis
New West Records
DHO
8
Sturgill Simpson
52 pts.
A Sailor’s Guide to Earth
Atlantic Records
JJ,JF
9
Douglas Greer
50 pts.
Baja Louisiana
Zilker Park Records
HDB,ML
10
Lucinda Williams
46 pts.
The Ghosts Of Highway 20
Highway 20 Records
EM
11
Buddy Miller & Friends
44 pts.
Cayamo Sessions at Sea
New West Records
 
12
Wink Burcham
43 pts.
Cleveland Summer Nights
Continental Song City
 
13
Eric Brace & Peter Cooper
42 pts.
C&O Canal
Red Beet Records
BR
14
Brent Cobb
41 pts.
Shine On A Rainy Day
Elektra Records
HH
 
Daniel Romano
41 pts.
Mosey
New West
CVL
 
Leonard Cohen
41 pts.
You Want it Darker
Sony Music
HO
17
Christian Kjellvander
40 pts.
A Village: Natural Light
Tapete Records
BM
18
Drive-By Truckers
39 pts.
American Band
ATO Records
AR,EZ
19
Birds of Chicago
38 pts.
Real Midnight
Five Head Entertainment
LM,SZ
20
John Prine
37 pts.
For Better, or Worse
Oh Boy Records
FS,MB
21
The Cactus Blossoms
36 pts.
You’re Dreaming
Red House Records
GS,HD
22
Richmond Fontaine
35 pts.
You Can’t Go Back
Décor Records
FCE
23
Gillian Welch
34 pts.
Boots No.1: The Official Revival Bootleg
Acony Records
LK,PR,TJ
24
Sarah Jarosz
33 pts.
Undercurrent
Sugar Hill
RM
25
Joe Purdy
32 pts.
Who Will Be Next?
Mudtown Crier Records
AL
 
The Devil Makes Three
32 pts.
Redemption & Ruin
New West

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