Corky Siegel's Chamber Blues' "Different Voices"
1. Corky Siegel’s Chamber Blues, Different Voices (Dawnserly Records): Chicago blues legend’s inventive blend of blues and classical comes together big-time, broaching jazz, pop, folk and world music with guests Ernie Watts, Sam Lay, Marcella Detroit, Sandeep Das, Matthew Santos and Sons of the Never Wrong.
2.Jessi Colter, The Psalms (Legacy Recordings): Kudos to Colter and producer Lenny Kaye for creating such a sonically stunning musical accompaniment to biblical lyrics lifted from the Book of Psalms.
3. Various artists, Farewell, Alligator Man: A Tribute to the Music of Jimmy C. Newman (Valcour Records) Wonderful posthumous tribute to the wonderful Cajun country artist, featuring some of Americana genre’s finest in spanning Cajun, country, country swing and swamp pop tunes.
4. Rhiannon Giddens, Freedom Highway (Nonesuch): Americana, thy name is Rhiannon Giddens.
5. Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives, Way Out West (Superlatone Records): Walking country music encyclopedia Marty Stuart puts the “western” back in country-and-western music with superb set of choice covers (Benny Goodman’s jazz standard “Air Male Special”) and original story songs (the titletrack) in covering music territory as wide as the locale.
6. Cindy Lee Berryhill, The Adventurist (Omnivore): Beautiful and heartbreaking, Berryhill’s first album in 10 years revolves around the slow deterioration and death of her husband (pioneering rock journalist Paul Williams) after a brain injury, and her own struggle to recover.
7. Peter Himmelman, There is No Calamity (Six Degrees): Easily among the best rock singer-songwriters of his generation, Himmelman’s latest would be a worthy entry just for this lyrics from lead track “245th Peace Song”: “Scapegoating, killing, hating on the other/Isn’t it time that we finally discover/Everyone you see could be your sister and your brother….”
8. Aimee Mann, Mental Illness (SuperEgo Records): Aimee Mann says she gave herself permission to write “the saddest, slowest, most acoustic” record she could, and the result is fast-acting medication, if not a cure for its title.
9. Madison Red & The Band That Time Forgot, 21st Century Blues and Ballads (Ys Records): First album of totally original material from jazz/jump blues/swing quartet centers on the last century’s jazz and blues forms while retaining the contemporary sophistication that made preceding discs so ironically memorable.
10. Samantha Fish, Belle of the West (Ruf Records): Hard to pick between exciting young blues artist Fish’s two 2017 album releases, but eight months after releasing hard-rocking Chills & Fever (recorded in Detroit with garage rockers the Detroit Cobras) she came out with this largely acoustic delight, employing fiddle and even fife on songs sometimes approaching bluegrass blues.