They would both go on to successful solo careers, but it was the music that Ira and Charlie Louvin made together that earned them a place in the annals of history.
This is my fifth such list in as many years, and I have to say that I was mostly underwhelmed by the albums of 2008. If it wasn’t for the contributions of the other writers, who made me aware of some fine albums I might have otherwise missed, it would’ve been difficult to compile a list at all. That being said, there were at least ten albums from 2008 that I will be listening to in 2009 and beyond. #10 Jim Lauderdale & The Dream Players, Honey Songs No matter how much honey you put in the mix, the ragged words and vocals of Jim Lauderdale will cut through. The glorious contrast between Lauderdale and his sonic surroundings make for a fascinating listen. #9 Joey + Rory, The Life of a Song It’s rare for any act to make a debut album without compromise, let alone one that hails from Read More
#10 The SteelDrivers, The SteelDrivers Chris Stapleton’s voice just blows me away. As Lee Ann Womack has recently observed, he sings like a real man. He takes Travis Tritt’s soulfulness to a whole new level. With incredible harmonies and terrific songs not limited to “Blue Side of the Mountain” and “Drinkin’ Dark Whiskey”, this is a strong project that certainly stood out in 2008. #9 Jason Boland & The Stragglers, Comal County Blue I love Boland’s folk-tinged country voice, which sings these memorable fiddle laden melodies to great affect. While the lyrics can be abstract at times, they still manage to feel meaningful. I’ve come to realize that what ultimately appeals to me about this album is the fact that it reminds me of good nineties country music, which is the era that drew me to this genre in the first place. #8 Darrell Scott, Modern Hymns My admiration for Read More
Charlie Louvin Sings Murder Ballads and Disaster Songs This has been quite the year for the historically themed country album. Two of the year’s best releases have come from veteran singers exploring their roots, with Kathy Mattea collecting mining songs on Coal and Patty Loveless collecting traditional country songs on Sleepless Nights. The final month of 2008 has brought a third set of this nature, and it’s worthy of being mentioned in the same breath as those two predecessors. As part of The Louvin Brothers and then on his own, Charlie Louvin has been a cornerstone of American music, influencing generations of performers while still maintaining his own vitality. Now in his eighties, his voice is rough and shopworn, with contours only producible by time. His weathered warbling is a comfortable fit for the assortment of old tragedy songs he has collected on his new release, Charlie Louvin Sings Murder Read More
Charlie Louvin Steps to Heaven Country Music Hall of Fame inductee Charlie Louvin (one half of the Louvin Brothers) is full of praise on his latest release Steps to Heaven. By recording a religious album, Louvin expresses his deep devotion to the values espoused by Christianity, but his careful readings of these songs help create a comfort level for any listener, regardless of faith. The 81-year-old Louvin’s voice is displaying far more character with age. His husky, gritty turn on the album’s fiercest tracks are joined by a ragged, rough take on a number of these sacred songs. The production handled by Mark Nevers is never overdone, leaving Louvin’s accurate evaluations of these songs to stand alone, without the studio tricks that can plague many country-rooted albums. However, the harmony singing (the album’s mood is assisted by a gospel choir) do tend to surpass Louvin’s well-weathered vocal stylings. It’s that Read More