These CDs (all released in 2009) represent ten of my favorites from last year, ones I like a lot. Ranking them would be silly so, as much as I enjoy doing silly things sometimes, here I chose to list them in alphabetical order by artist.
- Bearfoot, Doors and Windows (Compass) ~ When I first heard this Alaskan quintet’s previous release (Follow Me) last year, it was a revelation. This year’s release, Doors and Windows, is even better. For me, along with The Greencards, Bearfoot is helping filling the musical void left by the breakup of Nickel Creek. Must-hear: “Don’t Let Me Down”
- Big Medicine, Pine to Pine (Yodel-Ay-Hee) ~ Old-time music played with deep passion and impeccable precision, Pine to Pine is a gem. While Big Medicine’s versions of standard tunes are first-rate, it is their originals that elevates this release above those of other string bands. Big Medicine, it’s just what the doctor ordered. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.) Must-hear: “Red Rocking Chair”
- Dailey & Vincent, Brothers From Different Mothers (Rounder) ~ Their second release continued the momentum from last year’s debut, Dailey & Vincent.I’m a sucker for the “close harmony” singing style popularized by The Louvin Brothers and others. Today, no one does it better than Dailey & Vincent. Must-hear: “Winter’s Come and Gone”
- Del McCoury Band, Family Circle (McCoury Music) ~ When it comes to the classic five-piece bluegrass lineup of fiddle, banjo, mandolin, rhythm guitar, and bass, the McCourys are “it.” They know exactly what each songs needs and how to bring it out. They play bluegrass that is deep in tradition and yet fresh. Must-hear: “Sweet Appalachia”
- Dixie Bee-Liners, Susanville (Pinecastle) ~ Last year’s Ripe established the Dixie Bee Liners as a band to watch. This year’s Susansville rewarded those who paid attention to them. A concept album, a rare thing in bluegrass circles, and one that works, an even rarer commodity. Must-hear: “Susanville”
- Gibson Brothers, Ring The Bell (Compass) ~ Track for track, this release is perhaps their strongest since Bona Fide. The arrangements are rock solid, the performances are precise, and the singing … oh, the singing! The Gibson Brothers are running neck-and-neck with Dailey & Vincent in the Close Harmony Singing Sweepstakes. Must-hear: “Ring The Bell”
See the rest of the list after the jump. Read more