What's on your list? Let me know in the comments.
Ben Bedford - "What We Lost" (Waterbug)
Springfield, Ill.'s Ben Bedford released his third album this year; it features 10 more of Ben's wonderful musical vignettes, again produced by Chas Williams, with Ben's wife Karie singing harmony.
Catherine Britt - "Always Never Enough" (ABC Universal)
A dozen originals, plus one Guy Clark cover and a duet. Bill Chambers produces with Catherine, gathers a stellar Austin guest list -- Eliza Gilkyson, Carrie Rodriquez, Jimmy LaFave, Gurf Morlix, Warren Hood and Lloyd Maines -- plus bonus acoustic sessions. This is my album of the year.
Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson - "Wreck & Ruin" (Essence Music)
The stunningly prolific (three recent releases) queen of Australian roots music with her equally talented husband. Thirteen original tunes plus a bonus disc of covers of their five favorite young Aussie singer-songwriters, and three young kids: How do they do it?
J.P. Cormier - "Somewhere in the Back of My Heart" (Self-released)
Nova Scotia's amazing muti-instrumentalist, producer, singer-songwriter -- who survived a near fatal accident in 2009, falling asleep after a gig -- released his first new CD of original material in five years. Well worth the wait.
Rodney Crowell & Friends - "KIN: Songs By Mary Karr & Rodney Crowell" (Vanguard)
Mix the talents of Rodney Crowell with poet/writer Mary Karr and add the musical talents of Norah Jones, Vince Gill, Lucinda Williams, Lee Ann Womack, Rosanne Cash, Kris Kristofferson and Emmylou Harris -- and let Joe Henry produce: How can you miss?
John Fullbright - "From the Ground Up" (Blue Dirt)
About five or six years ago Larry and Kathy Weir returned from Woody Guthrie's birthday celebration in Okemah, Okla. and raved about a brilliant, teenage Okemah singer-songwriter, John Fullbright. Larry was a tough critic -- enough said!
Matt Harlan & the Sentimentals - "Bow and Be Simple" (Berkalin)
Matt weaves nine wonderful short stories with the superb backing of his Swedish friends for one of the year's best, under-the-radar releases.
Hardin Burns - "Lounge" (Ithaca)
Guitar wizard Andrew Hardin joins Jeannie Burns of the Burns Sisters for a wonderful debut of original tunes. It's produced by Andrew, and former bandmate Fats Kaplin pitches in.
Gretchen Peters - "Hello Cruel World" (Scarlet Letter)
One of Nashville's best and most accomplished singer-songwriters with 11 new gems, featuring a duet with Rodney Crowell, a co-write with Tom Russell and an amazing group of musicians led by her husband and co-producer Barry Walsh.
The Trishas - "High, Wide & Handsome" (Fatty Four Music)
Fifteen originals from this terrific all-girl quartet. Liz Foster, Jamie Wilson, Kelley Mickwee and Savannah Welch (daughter of Kevin) really deliver the goods. I can't wait to see them live. My apologies to the many artists who released great music this year that I didn't mention; my second 10 could easily, without hesitation, replace this list and I'm sure there are more than 10 I never heard that are worthy. But as always one of my greatest joys of the year is sharing this music with you.