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Thursday, 17 July 2014 10:50

Midyear 2014 top 10 albums and songs: Songwriters Showcase edition

Reagan Boggs Reagan Boggs
Written by Ed Becker
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Here's my list of favorite albums and songs, from the singer-songwriter and Americana genres -- of the first half of 2014.

Hannah Aldridge - Razor Wire (Troddenblack Entertainment)

My favorite new discovery so far this year, a big voice that can tackle drop dead gorgeous ballads or shake the walls and she wrote or co-wrote 9 of the 10 tunes.

Blackie and the Rodeo Kings - South (File Under: Music)

A great acoustic effort from Colin Linden, Stephen Fearing, and Tom Wilson, originally formed in 1996 to pay tribute to the late Willie P. Bennett; when I miss the music of the Band I play these guys.

Reagan Boggs - Quicksand (Reckless Bess)

It's been almost seven years since we last heard from Reagan; it was worth the wait. A Larry Weir favorite.

Adam Caroll - Let It Choose You (Gypsy Shuffler Music)

Adam went to New Orleans and bought a squeezebox and washboard and added some zydeco flavor to this Lloyd Maines produced effort. The Texas wordsmith and his talented wife Chris will make their St.Louis debut on September 11, 2014 at Joe's Cafe. Can't wait!

Rodney Crowell - Tarpaper Sky (New West)

No long recording gap for the very prolific Rodney Crowell; just headlined Twangefest and is in the studio now, with Emmylou for for a second volume of duets.

John Fullbright - Songs (Blue Dirt)

Great followup to his Grammy-nominated debut, the former Turnpike Troubadour from Okemah, Oklahoma would make Woody very proud.

NQ Arbuckle - The Future Happens Anyway (Six Shooter)

Waited five years for the return of the "Bar Room Poet" Neville Quinlan and his Toronto-based band; great followup to his Juno award-winning collaboration with Carolyn Mark "Let's Just Stay Here."

Puss n Boots - No Fools, No Fun (Blue Note)

Just got this in the mail, and when I saw the name and cover I almost threw it out. Then I noticed Norah Jones' name and gave it listen; it's been in my CD player ever since. Norah and friends Sasha Dobson and Catherine Popper unleash the twang with great originals and wonderful covers by the likes of Tom Paxton, Roger Miller, Wilco, Neil Young and Rodney Crowell.

Various Artists - The 1861 Project Volume 3: Franklin (Cohesion Arts)

The third and final volume, magnificently researched, written, and produced by Thomm Jutz with a who's who guest list of wonderful Nashville singer-songwriters and musicians, too long to mention. A must have set for Civil War buffs and music lovers alike in the Sesquicentennial anniversery year, a history lesson in 53 brillant novellas.

Whitehorse - The Road to Massey Hall (A Salutation to Six Stellar Songs) (Six Shooter)

Husband and wife team of Melissa McClelland and Luke Doucet with a new EP with six covers of acts that played at the legendary Toronto concert venue; great readings of songs by Bob Dylan, Gordon Lightfoot, Neil Young, Blue Rodeo and Ron Sexsmith.

Some favorite songs:

"Mr. Saturday Night" by Robyn Ludwick and Bill Chambers (Self-released)

The first families of Bandera, Texas (Robison Family) and Sydney, Australia music co-wrote and sing this preview of their upcoming CD.

"South" by Blackie and the Rodeo Kings (File Under: Music)

Great title track written and sung by Colin Linden.

"Eliza Jane" by Eliza Gilkyson (Red House)

My favorite tune off Eliza's "The Nocturnal Diaries," a near miss top 10 album.

"Razor Wire (Acoustic Version)" by Hannah Aldridge (Troddenblack Entertainment)

The stripped-down bonus version of the haunting title track.

"The Lights of Oslo" by Tom Russell (Frontera)

Don't know how this classic by Tom was never released -- the Tom Russell Band at its peak.

"When the Master Calls the Roll" by Rosanne Cash (Blue Note)

From "The River & the Thread," this Civil War tune was co-written with her husband John Leventhal and ex-husband Rodney Crowell and featuring a chorus, get this, of Rodney, Amy Helm, Kris Kristofferson, John Prine and Tony Joe White.

"Mine Until the Morning" by Radney Foster and Patty Griffin (Devil's River)

From Radney's new album "Everything I Should Have Said"; if you can get Patty to sing duet, go for it.

"Twilight" by Puss n Boots (Blue Note)

From "No Fools, No Fun." Now you can't really sing this Robbie Robertson classic better than Danko, Helm and Manuel, but Norah, Sasha and Catherine may have just done the definitive female version.

"The Briar and the Rose" by Kathleen Grace (Monsoon)

Another new discovery does a great reading of this Tom Waits tune from her wonderful new debut "No Place to Fall."

"Hospitals" by NQ Arbuckle (Six Shooter)

This catchy Neville Quinlan tune features the year's best video with the black and white vaudeville dance sequence.

And there are so many more! Thanks to all the great artists who make this job so enjoyable.

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