Saturday, December 26, 2015

Top 10 CDs of 2015 - #6 & #5

You have landed on one singer/songwriter's list of the Top 10 Albums of 2015. What makes my list more important than someone else's? Nothing. Just some ramblings from me to you. Me giving praise to CDs that got me through the year. CDs that inspired me. CDs that I think you should consider for your own collection because I am obviously egocentric and think you should like what I like.

I am releasing two CDs a day in new blog posts until I get to all ten, so you do not have to bother yourself with scrolling to get to the new information. For those jumping in mid-list. If you want to know what's come before, you can read the full blog HERE.

#6 Jason Isbell – Something More than Free: Those that know me and follow my daily drops of music on Facebook, probably thought by name alone this was going to be #1. There was a period of time when I assumed it would be too. There is no question that I think Jason Isbell is one of the best, if not the best, singer/songwriters, and not of this generation, but of all generations. For years, Nighthawks at the Diner by Tom Waits was my all-time favorite CD, and then Southeastern happened; it assumed the #1 position. During his recording process, I remember reading Tweets from Isbell indicating that he believed Something More than Free was gonna be better than Southeastern, and maybe it is, maybe its genius is above me or maybe I am such a glutton for sadness that the vibe on Free just doesn’t hit me like Southeastern did. That is not to say it is not a great CD; obviously it is. I mean, it’s on the Top 10 of the year. Isbell continues to write songs that I wish had come from my pen. He paints pictures so vivid that I can see them unfold before me like 8mm shorts. “Speed Trap Town,” “Something More than Free,” “To a Band that I Loved,” and “Hudson Commodore” were standouts for me. I think what placed this mid-pack wasn’t the songwriting but the production. I am infatuated with the starkness of Southeastern, the woody sound of Isbell’s Martin, the way that it makes me feel like he is sitting in my room singing to me. I realize it isn’t fair of me to expect an artist to duplicate the sound of previous recordings, to stay in their foxhole for another 12 songs, but life ain’t fair and I love what I love. While Something More than Free reinforces the strength of Isbell’s storytelling and word choice, the distance of the recording prevented me from becoming fully obsessed.  Knowing how calculated he is, I am sure that there is a metaphor here, maybe the distance in sound represents the distance from his demons, and for that he deserves applause.

 #5 Chris Stapleton –Traveller: I am a fucking lemming. I’ll admit it, I had never even heard of Christ Stapleton before the CMAs and his breakout performance. And even then I didn’t immediately buy the disc, but after seeing it pop-up on some respected end-of-year lists, I followed the masses, and I am glad I did. This dude is brilliant. Sincere. Eloquent. Weathered. Earnest. And he sings with the soul of an old church pastor who has caught the spirit. I thought I was gonna get a disc with a bunch of throwaways, trite modern country ditties with weak metaphors and obvious pop-culture references, but Traveller is the exact opposite. It is timeless. I could listen to “Tennessee Whiskey” on repeat and never grow tired. “Sometimes I Cry” has me coming back for more with Stapleton’s husky voice at full growl and single coils screaming into a dirty amp, but “Whiskey and You” captures the starkness that I love so much, just a woody guitar, an incredible voice, and a story that plays on the strings of emotions coursing through my body.

One’s the devil, one keeps driving me insane
At times I wonder if they ain’t both the same
But one’s a liar that helps to hide me from my pain
And one’s the long gone bitter truth
That’s the difference between whiskey and you

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