Here is my choice for the best albums that I’ve come across released this year (*with the exception of Ways Not to Lose which came out at the end of 06).
1. The Trumpet Child – Over The Rhine
Like a fine wine, Over the Rhine just get better with age. The husband/wife combo turn out some of their finest crafted musical gems to date on this ode to American music.
2. Here is What Is – Daniel Lanois
The sound track to uber-producer Daniel Lanois’ documentary of the same name is perhaps his overall most cohesive project to date. There is no shortage of his beautifully emotive trademark pedal steel on these tracks which range from folk, to psychedelic to ambient. Interspersed between tracks are snippets from the movie which feature conversations between Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois as they phylosophize about art, religion, and music.
3. Ways Not to Lose – The Wood Brothers
This album was released at the end of last year but has moved into my top-ten albums of my collection. Its charm is its simplicity. These two brothers turn out some incredibly soulful songs that will make you smile.
4. The Enchantment - Chick Korea and Bella Fleck
While I’ve never been a huge fan of either of these musicians in their other endevores, this combo is magical. I would have never thought of an instrumental album of piano and banjo, but it works. The music is hard to describe being a mixture of Latin, Appalachian, jazz, classical and blues. A very cool find.
5. Wilco – Sky Blue Sky
What can I say, it’s Wilco and it’s good. These guys have yet to turn out an album I didn’t like and this is no exception. This one lacks a lot of the experimental stuff that has been commonplace on other Wilco releases but has it’s own charm. The songs are less dynamic than on other releases but I find myself returning over and over to this one.
6. Give Yourself Away - Robbie Seay Band
Long live the worship band! This is a worship band CD. These songs sound like they were actually written, and practiced and recorded by an actual band, and a good one at that. In a day when so many worship albums are cliché ridden, over-produced and performed by hired studio musicians it’s so refreshing to hear a solid album by an actual band. This lends to the authenticity of the project which comes through in all of the songs.