Tuesday, December 26, 2006

In House #1772: Best of 2006: Roots and Americana Singles

All in all, it was an exceptional year for music that twanged in 2006. There was plenty around from both old-timers and newcomers, and even new releases from some dearly departed artists. The lines between genres continued to blur, as established indie artists like Cat Power, Rilo Kiley's Jenny Lewis, Stars' Amy Millan, and M. Ward released roots-leaning efforts in a seemingly well-orchestrated attempt to throw a wrench into genre-divided best of the year lists.

Willie Nelson made up for a recent lull with two solid efforts in 2006: the swinging tribute to Texas songwriter Cindy Walker, You Don't Know Me, and the Ryan Adams-produced Songbird, which also featured the backing of Adams' band The Cardinals. The latter included some reworked Nelson classics as well as covers of songs by the likes of Leonard Cohen ("Hallelujah"), Gram Parsons ("$1000 Wedding"), and Fleetwood Mac ("Songbird").

The year also saw stellar efforts from artists who only seem to do great work. This included Wayne Hancock's Tulsa, a driving album if there ever was one, and singer-songwriter Dan Bern, who continued to position himself somewhere between Bob Dylan and Buddy Holly with the wry songwriting and energy found on Breathe. Oh yeah, Dylan himself returned, too.

One of the most interesting releases of the year was also its most successful comeback: Jerry Lee Lewis' Last Man Standing was an aptly-titled celebration of six decades of rock n'roots n'roll. The outing featured guests appearances by everyone from Neil Young to Merle Haggard to Jimmy Page and showed that The Killer ain't done quite yet. Elsewhere, the Queen of Rockabilly Wanda Jackson issued a solid tribute album to the music of former boyfriend Elvis Presley. I Remember Elvis sounds nothing if not vintage, and Jackson's trademark pipes are impressively strong on classics like "Blue Moon of Kentucky," and "Mystery Train."

Yes, the old folks were impressive, but youth was served in 2006, too, with several impressive debuts of note. These included Angela Desveaux's Wandering Eyes, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals' Nothing But the Water, Matt Masters' Centennial Swell, and Boston-based singer-songwriter Eilen Jewell, whose self-released Boundary County was picked up for distribution by Signature Sounds before the year's end.

In House #1772.

Airdate: 12/26/06
Focus: Best of 2006: The Roots and Americana Singles.

Willie Nelson, from Songbird:
"Songbird" (MP3)
Wayne Hancock, from Tulsa:
"Shootin' Star From Texas" (MP3)
Jerry Lee Lewis with Neil Young, from Last Man Standing:
"You Don't Have to Go" (MP3)
Angela Desveaux, from Wandering Eyes:
"Heartbeat" (MP3)
Mark Pickerel & His Praying Hands, from Snake In the Radio:
"Forest Fire" (MP3)


In House PODCAST #227


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