Best of Americana

What exactly is “Americana “music? It can be argued at length, but perhaps the best way to explain it is  to give my list of favorite recordings that I consider outstanding examples of the genre. Drum roll please... 

Guitar Town - Steve Earle 

This was the record that put Steve Earle on the map. It rocks and has enough twang to earn some success on the country charts. Key tracks: “Fearless Heart,” “Someday” 

Trace - Son Volt 

After the break-up of Uncle Tupelo, Jay Farrar released this stunning collection with new band mates as Son Volt. This 1995 release still holds up as an example of brilliant songwriting. Key Tracks: “Windfall” “Tear Stained Eye” 

Poor Man’s Dream - Tom Russell 

Tom Russell has flown under the radar for most of his career. He has produced one of the most impressive catalogues of any American songwriter and is still going strong. This 1989 record is a great introduction. Key Tracks: “Eyes of Roberto Duran” “” Blue Wing" 

Time (The Revelator) - Gillian Welch 

This contemplative 2001 release is a masterclass of understated excellence. Accompanied, as always by partner David Rawlings, this undoubtedly the high point of her career. Key Tracks: “April 14th (Part One)” “I Dream a Highway” 

The Missing Years - John Prine 

This alum is all over the place, stylistically. From folkie finger picking cuts “All the Best” to the radio friendly rock oriented “Take a Look at My Heart” produced by Tom Petty bassist, Howie Epstein, this includes several great songs and remains one of Prine’s bestselling albums. Key Tracks: “Picture Show” “Everything is Cool” 

Out of California - Dave Alvin 

Dave Alvin is Americana. After leaving The Blasters, he began a stellar career that includes this live recording. Armed with a full band, including the late Chris Gaffney, this encompasses everything from blues to straight ahead rock-and-roll. Key Tracks: “Out in California” “Blue Boulevard" 

All These Dreams - Andrew Combs 

This 2105 recording has been in steady rotation since its release. This Nashville based singer/songwriter has been compared to Glenn Campbell or Mickey Newbury for his countrypolitan sound, but don’t let the easy going vibe be taken lightly. Key Tracks: “Rainy Day Song” “Nothin’ To Lose” 

Southeastern - Jason Isbell 

The release that made everyone stand up and take notice. The former Drive By Trucker gave up alcohol and in the process became an artist who seems incapable of releasing a poor record. Key Tracks: “Elephant” “Cover Me Up” 

Gloryland - Kevin Gordon 

 Gordon’s music has inherited the swampy sound of his native New Orleans. Several cuts were inspired by growing up in the South, as with the “Colfax/Step in Time.” This 2011 recording just never grows old. Key Tracks: “Pecolia’s Star” “Trying to Get to Memphis”

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