1. Honeyhoney- Billy Jack Album
I missed this one when it came out in October of 2011 and it just could have cracked my top ten albums had I heard it earlier. This is their second album and it’s a little slower tempo than their first album, First Rodeo. This time around, however, the lyrics are just as interesting and the arrangements are more intricate and impressive than their past work. It crosses genres consistently, covering country, bluegrass, soul, rock and roll and Americana stylings seamlessly. Highlights include the anti-entitlement lesson in “Turn That Finger Around” and a fantastic rocking little red light district number, “Let’s Get Wrecked.”
2. Jason Eady Live Performance
Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to hear Jason Eady, a rising independent singer/songwriter from Texas play an intimate hour long set here in Northern California. Eady is a transplant originally from Mississippi and those Delta blues run deep in the lyrics and soulfulness of each tune. He played several songs off of his upcoming April release AM Country Heaven including a track called “Old Guitar & Me” that has taken the early lead in my own personal song of the year thus far. Eady is a storytellers storyteller. With just he and his acoustic guitar, he wove tales of gospel and sin and blended them together like a shuffled deck of cards. You can watch his closing number that we recorded of "Cry Pretty" HERE.
3. Lionel Richie- Tuskagee Album
Born back in the early 70’s, I was immersed in music by the time the 80’s rolled around. And as a child of the 1980’s, I cut my early pop teeth on the songs of Lionel Richie. Outside of Michael Jackson and Madonna, there was no bigger star than the Commodore himself. Even then, he gave a glimpse of his country music roots with songs he either cut with or wrote with artists like Alabama and Kenny Rogers. I’ve had the privilege of listening to a preview of Richie’s new all-country album for nearly a month now (although it doesn’t come out until 3/26/12) and it’s like old-home week. Favorite hits of his heyday are reinterpreted as duets with today’s biggest country stars and they all fit like a glove. Each one is like a mini-flashback. The best of the bunch is “Deep River Woman” sung with Little Big Town. It’s harmony bliss.
4. Lewi Longmire Band- “Vanport 1948”
On Memorial Day in 1948, the Columbia River, swirling fifteen feet above normal, punched a hole in a railroad embankment that served as a dike, starting a flood that would leave 18,000 people homeless and alter race relations in Portland forever. For eight years, the embankment had kept the river out of a newly developed 648-acre complex called Vanport, then the largest public housing project in the United States.
Longmire, a longtime Portland Americana musician and singer/songwriter, masterfully tells this story in song on this summer of 2011 release called Tales of the Left Coast Roasters.