Can’t say that I’m loving country music in its 2009 version, though my steadfast allegiance to the genre runs deep, so I hold out hope as a new decade is about to begin. Tonight, I’m recommending ten tracks from albums that were released this year. I’ve avoided singles so there’s some sense of discovery. I look forward to discovering music that I missed through the comments!
Recommend Ten Tracks: 2009 Edition
Lorrie Morgan, “I’m Always On a Mountain When I Fall” from A Moment in Time
I love the effect that was created by having this album recorded live in the studio. It’s like hearing her in a smoky nightclub. This is by far my favorite track on the album, a loser’s lament that was quite worthy of revival.
Aaron Tippin, “Prisoner of the Highway” from In Overdrive
He already has the default voice of the overworked working man, so his world-weary vocal is a perfect fit for this song about an imprisoned by the freedom of the road.
Miranda Lambert, “The House That Built Me” from Revolution
I find her new album to be a bit unwieldy as a whole, but I love this particular track about a woman asking the new owner of her childhood home to allow her some time alone with the place that raised her. Having just sold our family home of thirty years, this song has been resonating with me, as we truly can’t go home again.
Todd Snider, “Money, Compliments, Publicity (Song Number 10)” from The Excitement Plan
The wry and witty folkster at his most wry and witty, yet still spilling out nuggets of brilliance from the corner of his mouth.
Carrie Underwood, “Someday When I Stop Loving You” from Play On
Don’t count me among the folks that wish that Underwood would just stick to simple songs like this with quiet arrangements that showcase her voice at its most tender. I like my pop-country and want some more, thank you very much. But for those of you who just want to hear that voice and the barest of accompaniment, this track is golden.
Patty Loveless, “When the Last Curtain Falls” from Mountain Soul II
Given the preference, I’ll take my Patty Loveless down from the mountain. I love that pure country voice contrasted against electric instrumentation. But the best reason to listen to Patty Loveless is to hear her wrap her voice around complicated and truly adult material that reflects the reality of life and love. This track could stand toe to toe with the best of her material to date.
Tim McGraw, “If I Died Today” from Southern Voice
It’s not nearly as accessible an assessment on one’s own morality as “Live Like You Were Dying”, but it’s a heck of a lot more believable than sixteen seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu.
Love and Theft, “Slow Down” from World Wide Open
He’s talking to life and it’s a sadly beautiful conversation.
Holly Williams, “Birds” from Here With Me
This song is hauntingly gorgeous, a requiem for a dying love and a wishful hope for the new love that has yet to come.
Keith Urban, “Thank You” from Defying Gravity
Urban’s explorations of his demons have produced some of his best tracks, like “You’re Not My God”, and this one is a winner, a love letter to the wife that helped pull him away from the precipice.
1. Quitter – Carrie Underwood: Say what you will about a country artist having a golden Pop producer write and produce a song for her, but this song is great. The cute confession, the understates vocal to match, and the ridiculously catchy melody Max Martin is known for combine to create country-pop (or contemporary country, as Underwood prefers) song – one that Team Underwood would be stupid not to release (to all formats, but that’s a WHOLE nother story).
2. What Can I Say – Carrie Underwood: Power ballads have never sounded as good as this duet between Underwood and the Sons of Sylvia. The lyrics alone make this song interesting enough, but the combination of country instruments with a pop arrangement turn this, as well, into a simply stunning track. The perfect mix of vocal nuance and power, this is Underwood’s best vocal to date.
I’ll update more later, but you should all check out Carrie’s recent performance with Dolly on I Will Always Love You and her 60s medley. Those are also GREAT. I agree about Someday When I… as well. It’s heartbreaking. I promise the next 8 tracks won’t be by Carrie. LOL
I really enjoy “Thank You” and kind of feel like the wonky production has stopped some people from appreciating everything else about the song. It’s powerful regardless.
Ah, Kevin, when you take Patty “down from the mountain” she still takes the mountain sound with her.
You can take Patty out of the mountains but you cant take the mountains out of Patty, (or something like that) ;). And that’s a very good thing indeed.
I second your recommendation of “When the Last Curtain Falls” and your whole take on it.
I too, love that contrast bewtween Patty’s rustic voice and electric instumentation, but I also love the way her mountain voice is perfectly mated to Appalachian acoustics.
But no matter what particular style she chooses, Patty Loveless is always a “down from the mountain” ambassador, bringing the mountain sound to the masses.
I’ll do five for now, hit bed and come back with a second pack tomorrow:
Holly Williams, “Gone With The Morning Sun” from Here With Me
About a woman who finds herself cheating on her current partner with the memory of someone else, presumably someone she previously passed over, or possibly who died. The lyric doesn’t go too deep, but the melody in the chorus as she dreams of the person is like the perfect blend of rapture and pain. And it’s always stuck in my head.
Justin Townes Earle, “Can’t Hardly Wait” from Midnight At the Movies
A mesmerizing cover of the cryptic, spookily uplifting Replacements suicide song.
Joe Nichols, “An Old Friend Of Mine” from Old Things New
I’m planning to review this album for the site sometime this coming week. I don’t want to say much about the song except that it should be experienced without watching the awkward promotional video that accompanies it. (You can use the video to hear it; just turn your head away!)
Buddy & Julie Miller, “Chalk” from Written In Chalk
Another cryptic one, which is somewhat typical of Julie’s writing. But there’s such a palpable sorrow to this track that it works however you interpret it. For me, it’s like hearing someone think through all the ways a relationship (whatever it is) has failed, wondering what good can come of life now.
Ryan Bingham, “Tell My Mother I Miss Her So” from Roadhouse Sun
I have no idea what he’s singing about half the time, but this is a such an awesome toe-tapper.
Just a clarification, Kevin, I think you and I are both talking in general terms regarding Patty’s voice with electric instrumentation, because the song in question, “WTLCF” is one of the thirteen purely acoustic numbers on MS II, If I’m not mistaken.
I’ll come back with my recommendations later today, but just wanted to say that I liked “Thank You”, but the production does ruin it for me. The same thing happened with “Got It Right this Time.” I think that’s happened with a lot of Urban songs for me lately, though “I Told You So” is one of my favorite funky mainstream productions of the decade, I think.
Well a few of the standouts that hit me were already mentioned, so I will scrape up 10 others that I liked and perhaps even loved
1) George Strait – Where’ve I Been All My Life
2) Miranda Lambert – Me And Your Cigarettes
3) Gene Watson – A Taste Of The Truth
4) Joe Nichols – Old Things New
5) Patty Loveless – Big Chance (2009 version even though its pretty much the 2005 version as well)
6) Tim McGraw – You Had To Be There
7) Chris Young – Raining Night In Georgia
8) Brad Paisley – Everybody’s Here
9) Martina McBride – I’m Tryin
10)Patty Loveless – You Burned The Bridge
“Big Chance” is actually the exact same recording/version as the one on 2005’s Dreamin’ My Dreams. GREAT choice highwayman!
1) Lorrie Morgan – Misty Blue
2) Patty Loveless – Prisoner’s Tears
3) Wynonna – Are The Good Times Really Over
4) Terri Clark & Vince Gill – The One You Love
5) Martina McBride – What Do I Have To Do?
6) Tanya Tucker – Big, Big Love
7) Rosanne Cash & Jeff Tweedy – Long Black Veil
8) Reba – I Keep On Lovin’ You
9) David Nail – Mississippi
10) Eric Church – Those I’ve Loved
Overall, I found ’09 to be a better year for country music than ’08 was.
1. Patty Loveless-Prisoners Tears. Nobody can sing a heartbeak song and make you feel it like patty and this is one of her best.
2. Reba- Maggie Creek Road. This is a song up there with Fancy and Georgea! I love reba singing these story songs
3. Rosanne Cash- Northern Country. The way she sings this song and the arrangments just get down deep in my soul.
4. Lorrie Morgan- Borrowed Angel. I love a good cheating song
5. Wynonna- Are The Good Times Really Over. Love how this song takes you back to a diffrent place and time.
6. Rodney Atkins-Tell a Country Boy. This feels like its my anthem
7. Janie Fricke- Graceful. A song about someone having the chance to set their life right before dying of cancer. This song is very personal to me as my dad did just that before he died from the dreaded dz!
1-Ballad of Balad-Toby Keith
3-Ain’t Killed Me Yet-Eric Church
4-I’m In-Keith Urban
5-What Country Is-Luke Bryan
6-Love You Goodbye-Tim McGraw
7-Wide Open-Jason Aldean
8-Simple Things-Rondey Atkins
9-I’m Only Jesus-Tim McGraw
How did Aaron Tippin make the original list and Phil Vassar didn’t?! I’d replace that pick with Phil’s single “Everywhere I Go” from his new CD ‘Traveling Circus’ which came out today!
The Aaron Tippin album is very good and largely overlooked.
My list wouldn’t be without To Say Goodbye by Joey & Rory. Really helped me through a tough loss.
It was 2.7 seconds on Fu Man Chu, not sixteen. what’s unbelievable about that?
1. “I Hear You Knockin'” Wynonna:
Wynonna’s ‘tude on this song is excellent.
2. “Someday When I Stop Loving You” Carrie Underwood:
3. “I’ll Have What She’s Having” Reba McEntire:
Say what you will, but this is as rootsy as McEntire gets on her new CD.
4. “What Can I Say” Carrie Underwood & Sons of Sylvia:
Great duet, definatly one of the best I’ve heard.
5. “The House Is Rockin'” Wynonna:
Wynonna’s awesome when she lets loose.
6. “Sex On Fire” Sugarland:
Their Live On The Inside album consists of many gems, but this song and Nettles’ voice is an excellent combonation.
7. “You’re Not Leaving Me” Martina McBride:
Alright, not the best of McBride’s career, but a fun performance from McBride that doesn’t force us to turn down the volume.
8. “Eight Crazy Hours” by Reba McEntire:
A great peformance from Reba that doesn’t overdo it.
The last two are from a new group (actually one person) I’ve discovered, (not country though).
9. “Hello Seattle” by Owl City:
Adam Young is a brilliant musician with catchy and addictive music hooks, although some songs he makes are silly, I liked this song.
10. “Umbrella Beach” by Owl City:
Meerly nostalgia for me, the song reminds me of the Sonic beach levels on Sonic the Hedgehog games, guess we all still have a child inside us, haha.