Everybody else has had a say, now it’s our turn.
2018 has been another banner year in the world of Americana and country and we’ve all enjoyed some great music along the way. For those of us who adore authenticity in our chosen tunes, there have been some rocking records, super singles and great gigs to enjoy across the last twelve months.
With that in mind, we’ve put together – in no particular order – a list of the albums that have entered our way of life in 2018 and it’s a collection of classics that is both timely and timeless… enjoy!
Black Deer’s Favourite Albums of 2018
Everybody else has had a say, now it’s our turn.
Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit – ‘Live From The Ryman’
What do you mean we’re not allowed a live album? This is the closest we’ve come to a greatest hits collection from Isbell since he headlined in the deer park last summer! Choice cuts such as ’24 Frames’, ‘Flagship’ and ‘If We Were Vampires’ dominate the live set, recorded inside the hallowed walls of Nashville’s legendary Ryman Auditorium, and it’s a release that has crowned a fantastic few years for the songwriter. America’s greatest band right now? They’re in the top one.
Courtney Marie Andrews – ‘May Your Kindness Remain’
The title-track from the Arizonian’s sixth record has dominated this year’s ‘best song’ lists and sets the tone perfectly for this country soul album. With devastating vocals, killer melodies and gorgeous instrumentation, Courtney Marie Andrews has delivered the first classic of her career and critics and audiences certainly seem to agree. ‘May Your Kindness Remain’ reminded us all that great albums will stay with you forever.
Rosanne Cash – ‘She Remembers Everything’
For her first album since 2014’s award-winning and nostalgia-driven ‘The River & The Thread’, Rosanne Cash placed the spotlight on the here and now with a set songs ringing clear and singing of present danger with strict attention paid to rhythm and tunes. Once again co-writing with husband and guitarist John Leventhal, Cash proves that keeping it in the family is often the right foot forward for great country songs.
Simone Felice – ‘The Projector’
Since moving on from The Felice Brothers, singer/songwriter Simone has proved popular as a producer, scoring big hits for The Lumineers and Bat For Lashes. But it’s as a solo artist that this magical musician really starts cooking. ‘The Projector’ is a concept record looking down the dark alleys of America and not liking what it sees. However, the muted electric guitars and big-hearted melodies of the likes of ‘Hustler’ and ‘Your Hands’ shine humane lights in the apocalyptic darkness.
Robert Vincent – ‘I’ll Make The Most Of My Sins’
2018 was a big year for ‘Whistling’ Bob Harris favourite Robert Vincent and the lilting laments offered on the Liverpudlian’s second record didn’t disappoint. Simple songs sung well and played precisely never go out of fashion and Vincent was rewarded when ‘I’ll Make The Most Of My Sins’ was named ‘Album of the Year’ at the AMA UK Awards. A richly deserved accolade for a record brimful of rewards.
Pistol Annies – ‘Interstate Gospel’
If 2018 needed a record to define the year, then Pistol Annies damn near delivered it. ‘Interstate Gospel’ provided melodic portraits of women with fire in their eyes and guitars in their hands, as Miranda Lambert, Angaleena Presley and Ashley Monroe gathered glowing praise for an album alive with authenticity and anger. Me too? How about these three.
The Wandering Hearts – ‘Wild Silence’
Polished country pop is easy to sneer at, but not so easy to create. That The Wandering Hearts arrived with industry wind in their sails provided them with a head start that the four-piece have taken full advantage of. Debut record ‘Wild Silence’ was still busy being born when the group rocked Black Deer last June, but the songs will be all grown up when they return to the deer park this summer.
Old Crow Medicine Show – ‘Volunteer’
The best band Bob Dylan never had continue to release classic albums over twenty years into a recording career that shows no signs of slowing down. Made with Americana’s man-of-the-moment Dave Cobb behind the desk, ‘Volunteer’ wore the weight of its familiar clothes lightly and managed to sound brand new whilst helping fans to look back, too. It’s quite the magic trick to pull off and offered living proof that Old Crow are here to stay.
Brandi Carlile – ‘By the Way, I Forgive You’
With six nominations for the upcoming Grammys 2019, Brandi Carlile is riding the crest of a wave. Surfing in on a “delicate masterpiece” review from rolling Stone, ‘By The Way, I Forgive You’ has proved a killer hit with all who have heard it and fell for the record’s slow-burning charms. A future classic? It’s already in our hearts.
John Smith – ‘Hummingbird’
It’s always tough to define UK Americana, but whatever qualities you need to qualify, John Smith has them in abundance. Great picking, lovely singing, incisive lyrics and inventive melodies all form the heart of classicist Smith’s albums and this year’s ‘Hummingbird’ brought the best of his talents together for the first time on record. The man once dubbed ‘the future of folk music’ proved his time is now with a set of songs light to touch and easy to hold on to.
Time to tuck on in and remind yourself just how good a year it was for Americana & Country music.
See you in the deer park in 2019…